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Football Reporting


Arsenal impress with dominant win over Aston Villa

Arsenal produced a fine performance to down Aston Villa 3-1 at the Emirates, with the win lifting Mikel Arteta’s side into the top half of the Premier League.

Thomas Partey fortuitously diverted home a corner for the first goal and then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled the lead with a rebound from his VAR-awarded penalty on the stroke of half-time after a fine save from Emiliano Martinez.

Emile Smith Rowe scored the third with an effort deflected off luckless Villa defender Tyrone Mings.

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Although all their goals all had a bit of fortune about them, Arsenal were full value for their emphatic lead with their attacking players linking superbly throughout the match.

The goal of the night came from Villa eight minutes from time when substitute Jacob Ramsey curled an unstoppable effort into the top corner from 20 yards.


Kieran Tierney has had to move to left-sided centre back for Scotland due to the embarrassment of riches Steve Clarke has with him and Andy Robertson in the same side. Arteta may be forced into a similar move with Arsenal. On his full league debut, Nuno Tavares, who arrived at the Emirates from Benfica in the summer, was a revelation down the left flank providing energy and urgency that was certainly lacking from the Gunners in their previous two games.

He produced at least two wonderful centres from the left flank – one of which Bukayo Saka should have scored from – but the Gunners boss would not want to deny Tiernay the opportunity to do similar. The answer to this could be Tavares playing at wing-back where his energy would force defenders to retreat on that side of the field, which would then allow the Scottish full back to go forward and come into the game as he does for his national side.


England manager Gareth Southgate was watching and he can’t help but have been impressed by the young Arsenal forward. There are so many options for England in the three forward slots behind Harry Kane, but Smith Rowe does seem to have the quality which will work at the higher level. In particular, the way he directs play, can move with the ball quickly and then play the right ball and with unerring accuracy for a team-mate. He was a little fortunate with his goal, but it was a move he started by winning the ball, starting the move deep in his own half and his lung-bursting run put him in position to get a little fortunate with the finish.

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Arsenal: Ramsdale 7; Tomiyasu 7, White 7, Gabriel 6, Tavares 8; Partey 7, Lokonga 8; Saka 7, Smith Rowe 8*, Aubameyang 7; Lacazette 7.

Subs: Oedegaard 6, Maitland-Niles 6, Martinelli 6.

Aston Villa: Martinez 7; Konsa 6, Mings 7, Tuanzebe 5; Cash 5, Douglas Luiz 6, McGinn 6, Buendia 7, Targett 6; Ings 5, Watkins 5.

Subs: Bailey 6, Ramsey 7, El-Ghazi 6.


20′ Off the bar! Saka’s free kick is inadvertently flicked on by Mings, then deflects off Konsa into the path of Partey who launches into a flying volley which has Martinez beaten but comes back off the bar.

23′ GOAL FOR ARSENAL! Smith Rowe’s corner is met at the front post by Partey who misses his header but it deflects off his shoulder and through Martinez’s left hand and into the Villa net.

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31′ Great chance for Saka. A fine save from Martinez but surely he had to bury it. Smith Rowe on the break plays in Tavares who delivers a perfect low cross to the back post where Saka tries to shoot across Martinez but the Villa ‘keeper gets an outstretched leg to the ball to save.

45+2′ VAR Check! The referee is looking at the screen to see if there was a penalty when Targett cleared the ball as Lacazette was closing onto it.

45+4′ PENALTY GIVEN! It was not a decision that would have been given without VAR but Lacazette did get his foot in the way of Targett’s as he was swinging his boot to clear the ball.

45+6′ PENALTY SAVED! REBOUND SCORED! Martinez saves Aubameyang’s kick diving to his right. A great save. But the Arsenal striker moves to his left to follow up and slams it hime.

57′ GOAL FOR ARSENAL! A fine move for Arsenal on the break sees Tavares play the ball into Aubamyeng on the halfway line and he flicks the ball on to Smith Rowe who races down the left flank then cuts inside and sees his shot deflect off Mings, wrong-footing Martinez, clip the post and slide into the net.

81′ GOAL FOR VILLA! And what a goal. The ball fell to Ramsey’s feet on the D of the penalty area after Bailey drove horizontally across the field and the midfielder curled a beautiful goal into the top left corner leaving Ramsdale with no chance.

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