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21 December 2011
• Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: J. Moss
• Attendance: 35818
M. Albrighton 54'
R. van Persie 17'
Y. Benayoun 87'
So Arsenal have bounced back from defeat at Manchester City while Villa have only picked up one win in their last five league games and will go into their Boxing Day clash with Stoke City desperate to put some points on the board. Thanks very much for joining us at Goal.com and be sure to stick around for the very best report, ratings and reaction from the fixture.
90' + 4'
FULL-TIME! And there goes the full-time whistle and Arsenal have picked up a priceless three points at Villa Park. The visitors were deserved winners in the end but Alex McLeish will be terribly disappointed with the defending prior to Benayoun's winner so late in the game.
90' + 3'
Yellow/Red Alan Hutton
Dear oh dear, utter stupidity from Alan Hutton who has completely lost it and is rightly sent off for second bookable offence after a nasty challenge on Vermaelen gives Jon Moss no choice.
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Alan Hutton
Alan Hutton is booked for pushing Yossi Benayoun - a few handbags here at the moment. The Villans can't afford to lose their heads in injury time.
Aston Villa are showing no signs of sulking after conceding that late goal and are throwing everything at the Gunners, who are looking for their eighth win in 10 games.
Young forward Nathan Delfouneso has replaced goalscorer Marc Albrighton as Alex McLeish desperately hopes for an equaliser.
Assist Robin van Persie
Goal Yossi Benayoun
GOALLLLLL!!!! Benayoun has come off the bench and looks to have won the game for Arsene Wenger's side after losing his man in the area and nodding it home from point-blank range. An inspired substitution by the Arsenal manager.
Fine goalkeeping from Szczesny yet again as he collects Bannan's cross with consummate ease.
Andrey Arshavin and Yossi Benayoun come on for Gervinho and Aaron Ramsey as the visitors look to find a thus far elusive winner.
Yellow Card Robin van Persie
That's a very contentious decision by referee Jon Moss as Robin van Persie is booked for diving under a challenge by Stephen Warnock in the Villa area. The Dutchman looked to be on his way down before the challenge came in but it hardly looked like simulation.
Dunne has been the hero for the home side but Szczesny has been equally dominant from crosses as he rises yet again to clear Albrighton's whipped ball.
Villa go on the attack themselves as Vermaelen clears an N'Zogbia cross. End to end stuff at the moment - great entertainment all over the pitch.
Richard Dunne clears yet another Arsenal corner from the area. It's been a heroic defensive showing by the Irishman so far.
Genuinely could go either way at Villa Park with both sides probing in the middle of the park. Arsenal a perhaps the better side at the moment but the hosts have plenty of pace on the break.
Rosicky replaces Frimpong as Wenger's men chase a winner.
Great movement by Theo Walcott out wide but, as you may have guessed, the Englishman's delivery isn't the best and Dunne clears for a corner and the hosts are able to get rid of Van Persie's delivery into the area.
Barry Bannan just wasted a superb chance to deliver the ball into the area from a free-kick after Frimpong brought down the excellent N'Zogbia but his cross fails to beat the first man and Arsenal escape.
Arsenal have the worst defensive record away from home in the league and Villa look determined to test the Gunners' backline at the moment. It's turning into a great game now.
The Holt End is rocking now at Villa Park but it's the north Londoners who nearly took the lead there, with Brad Guzan pulling out a superb stop to deny Mertesacker and keep the scores level.
That goal of course means that Albrighton will be given £20,000 for him to donate to charity of his choice. He'll no doubt be the answer to years of pub quizzes so be sure to remember the name!
Goal Marc Albrighton
GOAAAAAALLLLL! And it's a very special equaliser for Aston Villa and young Marc Albrighton who had scored the 20,000th Premier League goal - and a lovely finish it was too. Thomas Vermaelen put his side in trouble with a poor header and the Villa man was more than happy to punish him for it with a cool finish through the legs of Szczesny.
Guzan collects however despite Mertesacker lurking nearby.
Arsenal have a corner...danger here potentially.
Villa are in no way hiding their intent in these opening second-half exchanges, with the hosts looking to press their illustrious visitors as much as possible. McLeish's men are struggling to get on the ball at the moment, however.
Bannan pitches a cross into the Arsenal area but Szczesny comfortably collects. The Pole had a fantastic game at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday and is looking confident yet again.
Quiet opening to the second half with both sides looking like they need to warm up again. It's as freezing as it is festive in the Midlands by the looks of it.
We're back underway at Villa Park.
It's half time at Villa Park and Arsenal deservedly go in at the break a goal up but the hosts have certainly shown a little bit of threat on the counter-attack. The visitors have been able to rely on their captain fantastic yet again, with the Dutchman having yet another stormer.
45' + 1'
Nearly the perfect introduction off the bench from Bannan as he bends a superb free-kick around the Arsenal wall only for the ball to bounce just wide. So close to being instant impact from the diminutive midfielder and certainly something for the Gunners to think about at half time.
Stephen Ireland is going to have to come off for young Scot Barry Bannan on the stroke of half-time. The former Manchester City man has been moving gingerly for quite a while.
Yellow Card Per Mertesacker
Per Mertesacker picks up a booking for stopping N'Zogbia in his tracks rather crudely.
Albrighton is looking very lively for the Villans this evening. It's fair to say the youngster has failed to hit the heights of form he found last season but hopefully this is the start of a turnaround for the 22-year-old
Yellow Card Ciaran Clark
And just as I said it was calming down, Ciaran Clark, who has already been in Jon Moss' bad books this evening after giving away a penalty, is correctly booked for a clumsy challenge on Mikel Arteta.
Couple of chances for Arsenal via Walcott and Van Persie respectfully. It's slowed down a little bit in the last five minutes after a frantic opening half an hour at Villa Park.
The hosts may be threatening on the break but they don't half look brittle at the back, with Van Persie nearly slipping in Ramsey only for the Welshman to knock it wide. The Dutchman has been utterly imperious so far in the Midlands.
Yellow Card Francis Coquelin
Oof that was a nasty challenge from 20-year-old Coquelin as he goes through the legs of compatriot N'Zogbia. He's rightly booked by referee Jon Moss, who has been having a good game so far.
The Villans are really turning up the tempo now but N'Zogbia has let his side down with a terribly overhit cross just when the home side looked to be struggling under the pressure.
Superb build-up from the home side nearly sees them grab the leveller but Stephen Ireland isn't able to meet Marc Albrighton's dangerous looking cross from the flank. Alex McLeish will be very pleased with his side's response to Arsenal's opener.
The play is starting to get a little bit stretched here as the hosts chase an equaliser. That was Van Persie's 15th Premier League goal of the season - where would Arsenal be without him?!
It could've so nearly been two for the Gunners there but Walcott was unable to make the most of Van Persie's superb pass through to him. Electric stuff from Wenger's men at the moment.
Assist Theo Walcott
Penalty Goal Robin van Persie
GOAAAALLL! Sorry folks, some technical issues have been plaguing us but we're back just in time to see Arsenal take the lead and it's typically Robin van Persie who has scored with a spot kick after Clark had pulled Walcott's shirt in the area. A definite penalty.
It's a penalty for Arsenal!! Some lovely skill by Walcott earns him some space, but just as he looks like getting away from the defender, Clark pulls him back in the box and it is a clear spot-kick for the visitors. That man Van Persie is set to take it, as he faces up to Guzan.
More good play from Arsenal, they are starting to really up their game now with Arteta at the centre of their passing moves. Another corner for the Gunners now, but Clark gets up to clear it well.
Better from Arsenal now. After a good spell of possession they eventually force a corner, but Guzan rises well under pressure to scoop up Arteta's delivery.
Close! From the delivery, Agbonlahor forces Szczesny into a decent save and Koscielny gets the ball away to safety.
Lively start from Villa, who enjoy some early pressure and earn a corner, which will be taken by Albrighton.
We've kicked off at Villa Park.
Hello everyone and welcome to Goal.com’s LIVE commentary for tonight’s Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Arsenal. Both sides will be looking to get a positive result following defeats at the weekend. Alex McCliesh’s side lost 2-0 at home to Liverpool, while Arsenal were defeated 1-0 away to current leaders Manchester City.
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