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Key Events

90' + 6'
J. Grealish
Yellow Card
90' + 4'
G. Xhaka
Yellow Card
T. Partey
Yellow Card
M. Nakamba
Yellow Card
O. Watkins
Bertrand Traoré
1 - 0

Match Stats

33% 66%
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target 8 3
Total Passes 316 597
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UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League


Villa's astounding improvement this season continues then, while Arsenal might need to wait for the summer for their own regeneration. It's likely to be a frustrating campaign for the Gunners in the meantime. That's all for now. Goodbye!
Villa rise to eighth in the Premier League table. A Europa League spot is still very much a realistic aim for them, especially as they still hold a game in hand on their rivals. Arsenal stay 10th but may well drop into the bottom half later this weekend. 
Watkins' early goal is enough for Aston Villa to see off Arsenal. Villa put together a resolute display that was tantalising and tenacious in equal measure. Arsenal huffed and puffed but didn't have the cutting edge to recover after going behind.
J. Grealish
Yellow Card
90' + 6' Grealish goes down under Willian's challenge. Villa's talisman really has been in the wars. Grealish lands his name in the book for preventing play from restarting quickly. It doesn't matter though - this game's over!
G. Xhaka
Yellow Card
90' + 4' Xhaka gets a late booking for that petulant foul on Grealish. Villa have gotten under Arsenal's skin all game.
90' + 3' Grealish drops a shoulder and glides away from Holding after doing a spot of tidying up at the back. Xhaka brings the Villa man down out of frustration. He'll get a card of some kind.
90' + 1' Arsenal are flinging cross after cross into Villa's box but still they can't find a way through as Willian's shot is blocked. It's been an outstanding defensive effort from Villa.
90' Arsenal continue to hunt an equaliser. There will be five minutes added onto the end of this game.
89' Ramsey shows lovely feet to wriggle past Xhaka and get a shot away from outside the box. Ryan is able to catch it.
87' Villa are keeping their shape, waiting for Arsenal's next attack. Xhaka floats the ball into the box for Aubameyang and Martinez is all over it.
85' Watkins forces Ryan into yet another save as Grealish slides him in down the left. Watkins' shot is low with power but Ryan manages to keep it out. Arsenal are still alive but they're running out of time, and are leaving more and more space at the back.
83' What a chance that was for Arsenal! Saka plays a lovely one-two with Smith Rowe to get in a cross and Odegaard blazes over from the edge of the box! Arteta holds his head in his hands. Odegaard should have scored.
82' Watkins fires agonisingly wide! Grealish finds the striker's run but Watkins' effort across goal rolls just past the right-hand post.
81' Villa are defending admirably. McGinn finds a way through midfield and earns a shove from Willian. The hosts have a free-kick.
80' Willian's shot from outside the box is blocked by Cash. Arsenal get the corner but are unable to do anything with it. They've got 10 minutes left to salvage something from this game.
79' Chance for Villa! Grealish gets loose down the left-hand channel, firing a left-footed shot towards the far post. Ryan dives across to keep it out. Watkins looks to salvage it but Ryan claims the striker's blocked cross.
J. Ramsey
R. Barkley
78' Barkley trudges off as Villa make another substitution. The midfielder doesn't look happy. Villa's 19-year-old youth product Ramsey replaces him.
77' Xhaka hands Villa a timely free-kick with an unnecessary push on Grealish. That'll give Villa some breathing space. They're being overrun in midfield at the moment.
76' Willian has gone to the left for now. The Brazilian makes his first contribution to the game, fizzing a cross against Cash that bounces back off him and out for a goal-kick.
T. Partey
74' Willian is on for Partey. It looks like Arsenal are going to go all-out attack for the last 15 minutes.
74' Partey will be unable to complete this match. It's a blow for Arsenal. He's formed a good partnership with Xhaka in midfield recently.
73' Arsenal win a corner down their left. Gabriel and Holding are venturing forward for it. Partey is down for a spot of treatment. Willian is getting ready to come on.
72' Nakamba is in the right place at the right time to intercept Saka's cutback from the left. Barkley sends the ball down the line for Watkins but Arsenal cut the chance out.
70' Targett slides in on Smith Rowe and does just enough to prevent the midfielder from getting a free cross. Villa are finding themselves under growing pressure.
68' Martinez shows great speed to get down and clear Pepe's low shot at the near post with his feet! This comes just after Aubameyang heads wide from Saka's cross. Arsenal are upping the ante.
67' Odegaard has slotted in behind Aubameyang with Smith Rowe moving to the right. Let's see how Villa cope now that Arsenal have switched things up.
Bertrand Traoré
66' Villa make their own substitution. Trezeguet is on for Traore.
M. Ødegaard
Cédric Soares
65' Meanwhile Arsenal make another change. The Real Madrid loanee Odegaard is on for Cedric, who was at fault for Villa's goal. Saka moves to left-back to escape the attentions of Grealish and pair up with Pepe.
65' Grealish is up again now. The Villa captain's known for his silky skills but he's not afraid of putting in the hard graft either, as he's shown here.
64' Grealish is down after taking a Saka cross square in the face. Arsenal play on and together Mings and Martinez manage to stop Aubameyang getting on the end of Pepe's cross.
63' Villa patiently make their way towards Arsenal's goal down the right. Pepe is back to do the dirty work and prevent Traore from shooting or crossing.
61' After a flurry of activity lately the game has calmed down a bit. Xhaka comes out of midfield to close down Cash and accidentally handles Cash's clearance. Villa free-kick.
P. Aubameyang
A. Lacazette
59' Arsenal make the game's first substitution. Lacazette is replaced by Aubameyang who's had a lacklustre campaign to date.
58' Saka whips in the corner and it bounces all the way through to the far post and out for a goal-kick. Had an Arsenal man been there it would have been a great chance.
57' Saka smashes a shot against the sliding Targett and it'll be an Arsenal corner. Arsenal are getting forward much more quickly since half-time.
55' Chances at both ends! McGinn's rocket from distance is pushed away by Ryan. Arsenal head upfield and Smith Rowe, who's been quiet, has a shot blocked just inside the box.
53' Pepe shoots from the left of the box and it rolls wide. Arsenal's wide men are getting plenty of space but haven't had many clear scoring opportunities yet.
T. Partey
Yellow Card
52' Partey's booked for pushing over Nakamba in the build-up to those Watkins chances. It seems a little harsh.
51' Barkley lashes off target from another Villa counter-attack. Arsenal are getting caught out more now as they start to push for an equaliser.
49' Nakamba pulls off a marvellous tackle to win the ball and Vila race upfield. Watkins shoots and it's saved by Ryan! Villa keep up the pressure and Watkins gets high to nod straight at the Arsenal keeper.
48' Grealish cleverly takes the corner short to McGinn who lets it run to Barkley in the box. Barkley has a free shot but can't get a clean connection on it as it bounces through to Ryan.
47' Barkley gets away from Holding near the left corner flag and fires a cross to the opposite side. Traore uses it to give Villa a corner.
46' Villa get the second half started. Arteta resists making changes for the time being.
Villa have gone on to win 10 of the 11 Premier League games this season in which they've scored the first goal. Arsenal, meanwhile, haven't won any of their last 12 league games after trailing at half-time. What can Arsenal do to worry Villa in the second half?
Villa have marshalled Arsenal well in this first half. They've done a great job of defending the lead Watkins gave them in the second minute. Arsenal haven't been able to break the hosts down yet although they have managed to threaten Martinez from set-pieces. 
45' + 3' Saka cuts in on his left foot and sends a cross towards Pepe at the far post. It floats out for a goal-kick and it's time for a break!
45' + 2' The referee goes across to talk to Grealish after Grealish says a bit too much about the non-award of that free-kick. The Villa captain avoids a booking for now.
45' + 1' There'll be three minutes added onto the end of this half. Grealish thinks he's been pushed over by Bellerin but the referee sees nothing wrong with Bellerin's challenge.
45' Grealish draws Bellerin into fouling him, giving Villa a welcome free-kick. Villa will be pretty pleased with how they've handled this first half.
44' Chance for Arsenal! Arsenal keep up the pressure from the clearance and Pepe slams a shot against Targett to the right of the box, winding the defender. Pepe tries again and lashes an effort wide. This has been Arsenal's best spell of the game. 
43' Arsenal have another opportunity to send the ball into the box from a set-piece. Targett heads it away.
41' Saka goes down again from a push from Grealish. Villa are doubling up on the young Arsenal winger. It's working for them so far.
40' Cash blocks Pepe's cross. Pepe tries again and this time wriggles away from the Villa right-back but Martinez is able to stop Pepe's cross from the byline.
39' Martinez booms the ball upfield from a deep free-kick as Targett's fouled by Saka. It's an ambitious pass out to Grealish but the Villa captain can't keep it in play.
37' Cash shields the ball from Pepe as the Frenchman bears down on goal. Martinez is soon on hand to help his defender out.
36' Nakamba gives away possession, giving Arsenal the chance to run at Villa's defence. Partey's pass forward is wayward though as Villa end up with a throw-in.
M. Nakamba
Yellow Card
35' Nakamba gets a yellow card for taking Saka out once it's clear that Arsenal no longer have the advantage.
34' Arsenal want another free-kick for a Nakamba kick at Saka. They understandably feel Saka's being targeted by Villa. It doesn't come though as play continues.
32' Holding heads over again from the resulting Arsenal free-kick. It looks like Arsenal might get some joy from set-pieces.
E. Konsa
Yellow Card
31' Konsa gets the game's first yellow card for a cynical foul on Saka as Arsenal break. Saka might take a while to shake that challenge off.
30' Villa nearly make it 2-0! Traore shows lovely feet to turn onto Barkley's pass and into the box, firing at the onrushing Ryan. Barkley looks to get onto the rebound but the midfielder's shot is blocked.
29' Arsenal have a corner after that Martinez save. It's taken short and Holding heads wide on the follow-up.
28' Arsenal get a free-kick quite far out. Xhaka curls it towards the top right corner and Martinez springs up to tip it over the bar! It's the first serious work the Villa goalkeeper has had to do so far.
27' Villa look more likely to score than Arsenal do at the moment. Arsenal knock the ball around in front of Villa's defence and Martinez catches Pepe's cross despite it deflecting off Cash.
25' Grealish's corner is punched away by Ryan. Villa comes straight back though and Bellerin is well placed to block Grealish's cross as the Villa captain darts behind Arsenal's defence.
24' Targett flings a cross into Arsenal's box and Holding punts it out for a Villa corner.
23' Saka sends the corner towards Gabriel who's peeling off at the far post. Martinez is alert though and comes across to grab it.
22' There are four Arsenal players in the box waiting for Saka's cross. Nakamba does well to get in the way of Saka and ensure it only ends in an Arsenal corner.
20' Martinez, who started for Arsenal in Villa's 1-0 win here last season, rushes out to smother the ball as Saka can't quite control a pass into the penalty area. 
19' Grealish and Barkley combine down Villa's left. The hosts switch play to Cash whose cross towards Watkins is headed away by Gabriel.
18' Arsenal try to counter but Mings is very clever in blocking the pass. Villa look full of confidence.
17' Pepe has his pocket picked by Cash and Villa go on the attack. McGinn spots Traore in the box and Partey comes back to block.
15' Saka looks to beat Targett down the right. McGinn is on hand to intercept though.
14' Grealish knocks the ball against Saka to give Villa their first corner of the game. Grealish swings it in but Saka is there at the near post to make the clearance.
12' Arsenal are seeing plenty of the ball but are yet to do very much with it. Villa are quite content to sit deep and soak up Arsenal pressure, if you can call it that.
10' Xhaka earns Arsenal a free-kick as Traore barges the Swiss international over while challenging for a header.
8' There's a delay in play as there's a clash of heads between Lacazette and Konsa. This is the first game where Premier League teams will be able to use concussion substitutes. Thankfully it looks like they won't be needed for now as both players soon get to their feet.
6' Watkins is penalised for an overaggressive challenge on Partey. Arsenal haven't really gotten going yet.
4' Arsenal get a free-kick down their left as Smith Rowe is brought down by McGinn. The ball goes lofted into Villa's box and Targett puts it out for a corner which the hosts clear.
3' Watkins has become the first Villa player to score in three consecutive Premier League games here at Villa Park since Darren Bent in November 2011. Villa's transfer business last summer continues to pay dividends.
Bertrand Traoré
2' That's a sloppy start from Arsenal who failed to address Traore's run and quick ball. Arteta's side are on the back foot already.
O. Watkins
2' GOAL! ASTON VILLA 1-0 ARSENAL! What a start for Villa! Cedric doesn't deal with a direct ball forward and Traore picks up the pieces, bursting past the full-back to cross. It comes to Watkins in the box whose scuffed shot beats Ryan!
1' And we're off here in Birmingham!
The two sides are out on the pitch on a wintry day in the West Midlands. Villa are in their famous claret and blue home colours. Arsenal are in their dark navy third kit.
Villa will fancy their chances of getting their first league double over Arsenal since Ron Atkinson oversaw two 1-0 wins over the Gunners in 1992/93. Arsenal have failed to score in their last two matches against Villa, losing both, but they haven't lost three in a row to Villa since 1993. This is going to be interesting.
Villa make just two changes to the team that lost to West Ham midweek. They've made the fewest changes to their starting line-ups of any Premier League side this season. Arsenal's two changes are enforced as Bernd Leno and David Luiz are suspended. In come Gabriel and debutant Mat Ryan, who becomes the first Australian to appear for Arsenal in a competitive game since John Kosmina in 1978.
SUBS: Dani Ceballos, Runar Alex Runarsson, Pablo Mari, Gabriel Martinelli, Calum Chambers, Martin Odegaard, Mohamed Elneny, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Willian.
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Mat Ryan; Hector Bellerin (c), Rob Holding, Gabriel, Cedric Soares; Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Nicolas Pepe; Alexandre Lacazette.
SUBS: Trezeguet, Ahmed El Mohamady, Anwar El Ghazi, Keinan Davis, Douglas Luiz, Tom Heaton, Jacob Ramsey, Morgan Sanson, Bjorn Engels.
ASTON VILLA (4-2-3-1): Emiliano Martinez; Matthew Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett; Marvelous Nakamba, John McGinn; Bertrand Traore, Ross Barkley, Jack Grealish (c); Ollie Watkins.
Arsenal have recovered from their woeful spell at the end of 2020 but remain inconsistent as their nine-man defeat to Wolves midweek ended their seven-game unbeaten run. Villa trounced Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates back in November but Mikel Arteta's side have been better lately. It's ninth versus 10th in the table. Let's do this.
Aston Villa remain in the hunt for a spot in Europe next season despite their 3-1 loss here to West Ham United three days ago. While Dean Smith's side have lost four of their last six league games, as many as they had in their previous 18, it's not beyond them to put together another winning run. 
Hello! Welcome to our live text commentary of this Premier League match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park.