December 09, (THEWILL) – Aston Villa narrowed the gap to the top of the English Premier League table to just two points on Saturday, continuing their stellar home form with a 1-0 victory over former league leaders, Arsenal. The lone goal came in the 7th minute from Villa captain, John McGinn.
Arsenal had multiple chances to equalise in the second half, but were denied by excellent goalkeeping and some controversy after Bukayo Saka’s goal was ruled offside by VAR and Kai Havertz had a late equaliser chalked off for handball.
Villa manager, Unai Emery, formerly in charge of Arsenal, will have relished beating his old club. Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, was forced to watch helplessly from the stands while serving a one-match touchline ban. The win proves Villa are genuine title contenders this EPL season after also beating defending champions, Manchester City, 3-1 at home just days ago.
Arsenal struggled to implement their usual free-flowing passing game for much of the match, with star winger, Saka, repeatedly thwarted by Villa’s organised defence. The Gunners have found it difficult at times this season to penetrate teams defending in numbers. Villa executed manager Emery’s tactical game-plan perfectly to frustrate one of the league’s highest scoring sides.
After John McGinn’s early opener, Arsenal eventually began creating chances, with Martin Odegaard forcing saves from Villa keeper, Emi Martinez, either side of halftime. Yet, Arsenal could not capitalise and Villa nearly doubled their lead through second half substitute, Moussa Diaby and Lucas Digne. Saka and Havertz both found the net late on for Arsenal, but neither goal stood after VAR interventions.
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Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.