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22 April 2024

Arsenal scored twice in stoppage time to win a six-goal thriller at Aston Villa and return to the top of the Premier League.

Published
By BBC

Arsenal scored twice in stoppage time to win a six-goal thriller at Aston Villa and return to the top of the Premier League.

Jorginho's shot came off the crossbar and bounced in off Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez to put Arsenal 3-2 up, before substitute Gabriel Martinelli raced clear to score as Villa chased an equaliser.

Villa twice led, through Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho, in the first half.

They were pegged back by goals from Bukayo Saka and Oleksandr Zinchenko either side of the break.

Victory ended Arsenal's run of three games without a win and took them back above Manchester City after losing to them in midweek.

There was an electric pace to the game from the off, and Villa took the lead inside five minutes through Watkins' fourth goal in as many matches.

He caught Arsenal cold on the counter, latching on to Matty Cash's long pass before beating William Saliba and finding the far corner.

It took only 11 minutes for Arsenal to respond. Moments after Tyrone Mings cleared Eddie Nketiah's shot on to the bar, Saka levelled with a powerful effort into the roof of the net.

Coutinho, making his first league start under Villa boss Unai Emery, put the hosts back in front, rounding off a wonderful team move with a calm finish from inside the area.

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On the hour Zinchenko found space at the edge of the box and fired in at the near post from a short corner for his first Arsenal goal, before Nketiah fired over minutes later.

Martin Odegaard shot wide with 14 minutes remaining and it looked as though it would not be Arsenal's day until Jorginho and Martinelli's vital contributions.

Gunners show resolve
There had been so much talk about Arsenal's title chances after losing to City, despite the fact they went into this match level on points with a game in hand.

For long periods they looked like they may come up short again.

But they proved their mental strength with those stoppage-time goals, as well as the fact they twice came from behind.

There was no panic as they probed and pushed late on, even when Nketiah and Odegaard missed chances and Villa were going for it themselves.

Winning titles is about overcoming adversity under pressure, and that is exactly what Arsenal did today.

"We can take two big lessons," manager Mikel Arteta told BBC Sport. "In the first half we did the simple things wrong and in the second half we raised our individual level and did the simple things right.

"We totally merited the win."

Emery 'embarrassed' by Martinez
Tactically, Emery's plan was clear and it very nearly worked.

Villa started the better and scored early. Even as Arsenal settled after Saka's goal, Villa maintained their threat through Watkins, Coutinho and Emi Buendia.

Having the lead at the break allowed them to stay compact and absorb Arsenal pressure and, although they conceded again, Watkins continued to cause problems.

Bringing Leon Bailey on could have paid off, but Arsenal found a way through to condemn Emery to defeat against his former club.

While Martinez was unfortunate with his own goal, Villa boss Emery was furious at his keeper for going up for the corner from which Arsenal broke away to add their fourth.

"Today I am very, very disappointed," said Emery. "I am embarrassed about the last goal. I have never told my keeper to go forward. It's not the spirit.

"We have to keep our mind clear and be smart. Today he decided it was his decision. He knows now."

Villa sit in 11th in the table after a third straight defeat.