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West Ham United
15 May 2011
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: M. Oliver
• Attendance: 60023
90' + 4'
FULL TIME. ARSENAL 1-2 ASTON VILLA. It's three points for Aston Villa thanks to a first half brace from Darren Bent. Van Persie got a late consolation for the Gunners but despite all of their hardwork, a combination of superb defending from Collins and Dunne combined with debatable decisions from Michael Oliver has condemned Arsenal to defeat.
90' + 3'
Dunne, not for the first time today clatters into the back of Van Persie to give Arsenal a free-kick 20 yards from goal. Van Persie rolls the ball to Vermaelen who smashes the ball into the wall and the chance is gone.
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Ashley Young
Goal Robin van Persie
FOUR MINUTES ADDED ON.
GOAL!! ARSENAL!! VAN PERSIE!! ARSENAL 1-2 ASTON VILLA. Maybe there is hope for the Gunners! A goalmouth scramble results in the ball dropping to the feet of Van Persie six yards from goal and he prods the ball past Friedel to give Villa a nervy last few minutes.
Not much happening at the moment as Arsenal seem to have ran out of ideas on how to break down this stubborn Villa rearguard. The fans are leaving in their droves and Arsenal aren't going to be sending their fans home happy in their final home match of the season.
Yet another stop from Friedel as he sprints off his line to prevent Van Persie from getting a goal back from Arsenal. Fantastic goalkeeping from the veteran American.
Aston Villa are camped inside their own box but the Villa fans are loving every minute of this, jumping up and down celebrating their sides two goal lead and very likely three points.
Yellow Card Nicklas Bendtner
More frustration for the Arsenal players and fans as Chamakh heads home only to see his goal disallowed for a supposed push in the back of Kyle Walker. Replays show the decision was harsh and yet again Aston Villa are let off by a refereeing decision.
Two expert saves from Sczcesny prevents Aston Villa from putting the game out of the reach of Arsenal. First Ashley Young tests the keeper from range and from the keeper's parry Downing fires a strike that Szczesny does well to hold onto.
More of the same from Arsenal as some expert close control allows Gibbs to reach the byeline and clip in a cross into the six yard box, only for Villa to clear the ball away once again.
The Arsenal players are still floating high balls into Villa's penalty area but Dunne and Collins are heading everything away. Arsenal have conceded the most goals in the Premier League from set-pieces this season and their lack of an aerial threat is evident going forward today.
Arsenal are dominating possession yet they still don't look like scoring against a Villa defence that looks solid as a rock. James Collins and Richard Dunne have been top class today.
Yellow Card Richard Dunne
Yellow card for Dunne as he clatters into the back of Chamakh around 35 yards from the Aston Villa goal. Van Persie whips in the resulting free-kick only to see his delivery comfortably headed clear.
Arsene Wenger decides to replace Arshavin with Nicklas Bendtner and the home side now have three centre-forwards on the pitch along with the attacking talent of Wilshere and Walcott. It's all or nothing for the Gunners now!
Fabulous football from Arsenal and they must be wondering how they aren't back in this match. The intricate football that they are famous for is shown as Van Persie slides the ball back to Gibbs who tries to smash the ball in the back of the net but Friedel makes a world class save to keep his clean sheet intact.
Arshavin tries to link up with Chamakh and plays the striker in behind the defence, only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside.
Arsenal have started the second half brightly but Villa look extremely dangerous on the counter-attack with Downing a constant threat down the right-hand side.
Arshavin tests Friedel with a fierce right-footed drive that the American does well to hold onto.
Alex Song has only been in the centre of defence for 60 seconds and he lets the ball roll underneath his foot allowing Bent a run through on goal. Luckily for Song Bent is forced wide and hits a scuffed left-footed shot straight at the keeper.
Villa restart the game after Marouane Chamakh comes on for Sebastien Squillaci. Alex Song drops back to centre-back alongside Thomas Vermaelen.
45' + 2'
HALF TIME. ARSENAL 0-2 ASTON VILLA. A brace from Darren Bent separates the two sides at the break and Arsenal fans boo their players and in particular the referee off the pitch at the half-time whistle as Michael Oliver has made some truly remarkable decisions in the first half. Huge second half needed for Arsenal but a wonderful display of finishing from Bent gives Villa a two goal cushion at the break.
Referee Michael Oliver is really infuriating the Arsenal fans with a string of debatable decisions in this first half. Van Persie turns Dunne beautifully and plays the ball across goal for Aaron Ramsey who would have had only the keeper to beat, however the referee blows for a foul by Van Persie on Dunne which no one else seemed to see but the referee. Terrible decision and Arsenal fans and players are livid.
Sagna has been superb as an attacking outlet in the opening 45 minutes and again rampages down the right-hand side only to be stopped in his tracks by a combination of Luke Young and Richard Dunne. Very good defending from the Villa men.
More pressure from Arsenal results in a corner for the home side that Sebastien Squillaci heads well wide. Aston Villa need half-time to come soon as you can sense that an Arsenal goal is coming sooner rather than later.
Absolute brilliance from Robin Van Persie. The Dutchman twists and turns in the penalty box before smashing a left-footed drive across the goalkeeper and off the foot of the post. So unlucky!
Yellow Card Stilian Petrov
Arsenal fans are furious as Dunne is again the centre of attention as he ushers Van Persie out of play for a Villa goal kick. The game started in a passive end of season style, but Villa's two goal lead has fired up both the Arsenal players and the Gunners fans.
Huge penalty appeal for Arsenal is waved away by referee Michael Oliver. Richard Dunne clatters into the back of Aaron Ramsey as the Welshman shapes to shoot, and despite replays showing that it was a clear penalty with Ramsey's standing leg being taken from underneath him by Dunne, referee Oliver didn't see it as a foul and waved the appeals away. Huge let off for Villa.
Superb defending from James Collins as he puts his body on the line to head Van Persie's corner clear.
Glorious ball from Bacary Sagna down the right-hand side doesn't get what it deserves as Van Persie is the only Arsenal man in the penalty area.
Yellow Card Nigel Reo-Coker
Horrific challenge from Nigel Reo-Coker on Wilshere earns him a deserved yellow card. Replays show it was more mistimed than malicious, but it was a yellow card nevertheless.
Jack Wilshere is trying his best to get his side back in this match as he begins to dictate the game in the middle of the park. Unfortunately for him Villa are more than happy to defend their two goal cushion and Arsenal are going to have to work extremely hard to break down their defence.
The Emirates is silent as Aston Villa continue to dominate this match. Downing, Young and Bent have simply been too much for a lacklustre and half asleep Arsenal side who have looked defeated from the first whistle!
Arsenal try to strike back immediately but Robin Van Persie is flagged offside as he rounds Brad Friedel. Correct decision from the linesman.
Assist Ashley Young
Goal Darren Bent
GOAL!! ASTON VILLA!! BENT!! ARSENAL 0-2 ASTON VILLA. Arsenal fans are in shock and Aston Villa are two up! Young slips the ball in behind the Arsenal defence as a Vermaelen slip allows Bent to run clean through on goal and slip the ball past the goalkeeper to give Villa a two goal cushion inside the first 15 minutes. Unbelievable stuff.
GOAL!! ASTON VILLA!! BENT!! ARSENAL 0-1 ASTON VILLA. What a wonderful finish from Aston Villa's record signing! The ball is clipped over the top by Kyle Walker and Bent beats the offside trap before chesting the ball down beautifully and expertly volleying past the helpless Szczesny into the right-hand corner. Fabulous goal.
Assist Kyle Walker
Goal Darren Bent
Huge waste from Darren Bent and Aston Villa. Bent finds himself clean through on the Arsenal goal but decides to hold the ball up and look for Gabriel Agbonlahor, who attempts to play the ball back to his team-mate but miscues his pass and the chance is gone.
The atmosphere is very muted here at the Emirates and there are a few empty seats around the ground as Arsenal fans accept the reality of a sixth successive season without a trophy.
Aston Villa, in their all black change strip, have started the better of the two sides. Downing again is allowed far too much space on the right-hand side, but his cross lets him down again. Lively start from the England winger though.
Stuart Downing creates some space down the right hand side and tries to whip a cross into the middle, but gets his delivery all wrong and smashes the ball behind for an Arsenal goal-kick.
Arsenal get us underway attacking from left to right.
The teams have made their way onto the pitch and we are seconds away from kick off here in North London.
Thomas Vermaelen returns to the Arsenal starting line up since injuring his achilles in September, Laurent Koscielny drops to the bench. Both Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas have failed late fitness tests so they miss out. Aston Villa make one change from the side that drew 1-1 with Wigan, with Fabian Delph replacing Emile Heskey.
FULL TEAMS: Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Squillaci, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Song, Wilshere, Walcott, Ramsey, Arshavin, van Persie. Subs: Lehmann, Denilson, Eboue, Chamakh, Henderson, Miquel, Bendtner. Aston Villa: Friedel, Walker, Collins, Dunne, Luke Young, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Delph, Downing, Bent, Ashley Young. Subs: Marshall, Pires, Agbonlahor, Albrighton, Bradley, Heskey, Cuellar. Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
Good afternoon and welcome to www.goal.com's coverage of the English Premier League clash between Arsenal and Aston Villa live from the Emirates Stadium. Team news to follow shortly.
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