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Played
January 13, 2014 8:00 PM GMT
Villa Park — Birmingham
Referee:‬ N. Swarbrick‎
Attendance:‬ 36097‎
 
76′ C. Benteke
 
Top of the Match
Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere
Arsenal
Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere
Arsenal
Flop of the Match
Ashley Westwood
Ashley Westwood
Aston Villa
Gabriel Agbonlahor
Gabriel Agbonlahor
Aston Villa

Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal: Gunners survive late barrage to go top

Arsene Wenger's side were forced to hold on against Paul Lambert's strugglers, but they did enough to leapfrog Chelsea and Manchester City at the Premier League's summit

Olivier Giroud; Jack Wilshere Aston Villa v Arsenal - English Premier League 01132014
Getty Images
Arsenal survived a late scare to secure a 2-1 triumph against Aston Villa and return to the top of the Premier League.
VIEW FROM VILLA PARK
By Wayne Veysey
Arsenal failed to get out of first gear in the second half but their opening period fluency secured the points and ensured their return to the Premier League summit. Jack Wilshere, restored to his favourite central midfield post in the absence of injured pair Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta, was the catalyst for the win, smartly finishing a beautifully-crafted goal and then, 17 seconds later, teeing up Olivier Giroud for Arsenal's second. Spurred on by Christian Benteke's diving header, Villa mounted a strong comeback late on but Arsenal held out relatively comfortably.

Arsene Wenger's men had slipped to third thanks to victories for Chelsea and Manchester City over the weekend but first-half strikes from Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud saw Arsenal back on top, with the London club now unbeaten at Villa Park in their last 15 league visits.

Villa had held firm until two goals in 17 seconds handedthe Gunners the initiative. First Wilshere capped a flowing move with a neat finish on 34 minutes, before he turned provider for Frenchman Giroud to side-foot past Brad Guzan.

The hosts improved somewhat after the break and were rewarded with 15 minutes remaining when Christian Benteke, who scored twice in Villa's opening-day 3-1 triumph at the Emirates, headed home his first Premier League goal since September 14.

Arsenal's winning run in the league now stretches to four matches, while Villa remain in 11th position.

Ron Vlaar and Gabriel Agbonlahor were among five players restored to Villa's starting line-up from the 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United, while Arsenal welcomed Giroud back from an ankle problem.

The visitors made a bright start and almost went ahead as early as the fifth minute when Giroud flashed a header wide from Bacary Sagna's teasing cross.

Paul Lambert's men were dealt a blow as Nathan Baker had to exit play after 15 minutes when Serge Gnabry's shot struck him in the face, with Leandro Bacuna coming on.

Villa looked more threatening when play resumed, with Karim El Ahmadi scooping over the crossbar from Fabian Delph's centre.

But the home side's evening unravelled as Arsenal scored two goals in quick succession.

A slick opening led to Nacho Monreal picking out Wilshere on the edge of the area and the England international moved into the area before calmly slotting home.

Wilshere was involved in the second, chipping a pass into the path of Giroud, who took one touch before steering his effort beyond Guzan.

Villa improved after the break and Bacuna should have done better when he shot straight at Wojciech Szczesny from the edge of the area.

Arsenal remained comfortable in possession, however, and Cazorla tested Guzan with a driven left-footed effort on the hour mark.

The away side came even closer on 72 minutes with a bending strike from Giroud curling just wide of the left-hand post.

Villa ensured a nervy ending by halving the arrears with quarter of an hour remaining when Benteke dived to meet Matthew Lowton's superb cross from the right-hand side and end an 11-match league run without a goal.

Wenger introduced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain late on, marking the winger's return from the knee injury suffered on the opening day against Villa, as Arsenal held on despite late pressure.



Aston Villa

1
Bradley Guzan
Goalkeeper
2.50
2
Nathan Baker
Defender
21′
3.00
4
Ron Vlaar
Defender
2.00
6
Ciaran Clark
Defender
2.50
14
Luna
Defender
3.00
34
Matthew Lowton
Defender
76′
3.00
8
Karim El Ahmadi
Midfielder
2′ 73′
2.50
15
Ashley Westwood
Midfielder
2.00
16
Fabian Delph
Midfielder
3.00
11
3.50
20
C. Benteke
Striker
76′
2.50

Arsenal

3.00
1
3.00
3
3.50
4
3.50
6
3.00
17
Monreal
Defender
32′ 34′ 66′
4.00
10
Jack Wilshere
Midfielder
34′ 35′ 96′
3.00
11
Mesut Özil
Midfielder
3.50
19
Santi Cazorla
Midfielder
3.50
20
3.50
12
2.50
44

Substitutes

13
Jed Steer
Goalkeeper
 - 
7
2.50
12
 - 
18
 - 
24
 - 
9
 - 
10
3.50

Substitutes

 - 
21
 - 
25
3.00
28
3.00
7
Tomas Rosicky
Midfielder
69′ 86′
 - 
9
 - 
15
 - 
10

Coach/Manager

-
 - 

Coach/Manager

 - 
-
 
  • Goal
  • Own Goal
  • Penalty
  • Penalty Missed
  • Yellow Card
  • Assist
  • Penalty Save
  • Penalty Shootout Goal
  • Penalty Shootout Miss
  • Yellow Card / Red Card
  • Red Card
  • Substitution IN
  • Substitution OUT
  • Injury
  • Goal.com Rating
  • Goal.com Man of the Match
  • Goal.com Flop of the Match
  • Top & Flop Global Ranking
  • Fans' Man of the Match
  • Fans' Flop of the Match
Results
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Luis Suárez Luis Suárez
Striker
Liverpool
30 0
Daniel Sturridge Daniel Sturridge
Striker
Liverpool
20 0
Yaya Touré Yaya Touré
Midfielder
Manchester City
18 6
Wayne Rooney Wayne Rooney
Striker
Man Utd.
15 2
Sergio Agüero Sergio Agüero
Striker
Manchester City
15 0