Arsenal vs Aston Villa - 0-2: In title race, Gunners just blinked, hand Manchester City advantage | Football News - Hindustan Times

Arsenal vs Aston Villa - 0-2: In title race, Gunners just blinked, hand Manchester City advantage

Apr 14, 2024 11:46 PM IST

Arsenal vs Aston Villa: Mikel Arteta's substitutions cost Gunners dear as Manchester City handed huge advantage in title race.

Arsenal vs Aston Villa: The EPL table attests to the fact that both these teams are exceptionally strong and the match today was going to be tough. The stakes were high for both as Arsenal wanted to snatch the top spot away from Manchester City, and Villa wanted to make sure they finished in the 4th spot to at least guarantee a Champions Trophy qualification. However, coming into this match, out of the last five played, Villa had won just one and lost two. Arsenal on the other hand had won 3 out of five. Clearly, the Gunners were a clear favourite.

Arsenal vs Aston Villa: Declan Rice reacts after yet another wasted chance against Villa.(Action Images via Reuters)
Arsenal vs Aston Villa: Declan Rice reacts after yet another wasted chance against Villa.(Action Images via Reuters)

However, Villa had other plans and the desperation and verve with which they played had the Gunners on the mat!

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Right at the beginning, Villa tried to play dominating football and the first shot at the goal was so powerful that it floored the Arsenal defender when he was hit in the head. He went down and was left groggy.

Read More: Liverpool vs Crystal Palace: Eagles win as Salah, Diaz, Nunez fall short

Arsenal finally got a few passes together and Saka’s cross into the box was not cleared effectively, but fortunately for Villa, the ball had flown over Odegaard.

Arsenal were finally stamping their authority over the match with quick and effective passing to reach the Villa box, but that is where matters generally ended. However, Gunners managed to take just two shots at the goal at this stage, although they did deny Villa any at the other end.

But when Villa did have a blast at the goal, it really pegged Arsenal back. It was in the 39th minute when Ollie Watkins rattled the Arsenal goal by smashing the ball against the post. However, Villa had to defend in haste as Arsenal quickly managed to counterattack and it took all of Martinez’’ skills to keep the ball out.

Half-time saw the honours being even.

Second half saw Arsenal making the extra effort to attack, but Villa were not sitting back. Whenever they could put a few passes together, they found themselves in the Arsenal’s box. However, the Gunners were making more of their attacks as they were getting chances to take shots at the goal. Villa were not getting those chances at all.

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With 60 minutes on the clock, substitutions were effected with Villa being the first - Diaby coming off for Bailey.

The interruption seemed to have done Villa some good as its next attack saw Tielemans blast a shot that hit the bar and then the post only to ricochet out!

In the 67th minute, Arsenal ring in substitutes too - Tomiyasu comes on for White and Martinelli replaces Trossard.

The changes did not seem to be helping Arsenal as Villa won three corners on the trot, but they failed to make them count.

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Unwilling to settle for a draw, Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta ordered more substitutions - Jorginho and Smith Rowe for Odegaard and Jesus.

The ploy may have misfired!

Within minutes, Villa score!

A squared ball from the left was easily tapped in by Bailey in the 6-yard box! This was in the 84th minute.

Barely had 2 more minutes passed when Arsenal were fishing the ball out of their net again!

Villa had scored again!

It was a proper individual goal by Watkins who broke free from the halfway mark, and simply lifted the ball over the goalkeeper!

Arsenal vs Villa - 0-2!

Well, just like Liverpool earlier in the day against Crystal Palace, Arsenal seemed to have imploded!

And that is the way it stayed even though the referee added 8 minutes of stoppage time.

A horrible result for Arsenal and a clear shot in the arm of Manchester United who sit pretty at the top of the table with a 2-point lead over Arsenal with the same number of matches played.

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