Arsenal 5 (Giroud 8, Ozil 56, Walcott 63, Cazorla 75 (pen), Bellerin 90) – Aston Villa 0
Man of the Match – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Arsenal continued their steady climb up the table, with a 3rd successive league victory, and in some emphatic fashion, thrashing a hapless Chris Lambert’s Aston Villa for 5. Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin all started, while new signing Gabriel Paulista was named on the bench. Walcott showed early signs of both brilliance and rustiness as he went clean through but failed to control a ball, squandering a chance.
Arsenal quickly got into their gears, especially on their stronger left hand side, when Nacho Monreal set up Aaron Ramsey, but the Welshman, still looking to rediscover his best form, could only shoot wide. The wait for the opening goal of the match wouldn’t be too long. Olivier Giroud went clean through, after a delicious flick from Mesut Ozil. With only USA international keeper Brad Guzan to beat, he momentarily lost control of the ball, but managed to clip Guzan to make it 1-0.
Arsenal were building some fine moves, but on one occasion, Giroud and Ramsey overpassed their way to nothing. Santi Cazorla released the quick Bellerin on the right, and the Spaniard’s cross caused some flutter in the Villa defense, but they managed to clear their lines. Arsenal were happy now to keep possession of the ball. A second goal was nearly worked out, as Laurent Koscielny’s header was met by Per Mertesacker, but only for a last ditch intervention.
A fine effort from Santi Cazorla struck the post with venom and came out, with Guzan well beaten. Arsenal should have taken the 2-0 lead on 30 minutes, only for a wrong offside flag by the linesman, who thought Cazorla was offside. Guzan was having a busy day, and he made a good save from a Ramsey shot, after the Wales international was set up by Mesut Ozil, who was having a field day. On the other end, David Ospina had to make a save from Andreas Weimann. Towards the end of the first half, Theo Walcott’s lack of conviction on the ball cost Arsenal a possible second goal just before the break.
Aston Villa started the second half brightly and seemed to be getting up on Arsenal. Belgian powerhouse striker Christian Benteke, first shot wide from close range in the opening few seconds of the second half before getting the better of Koscielny only to head wide minutes later. Arsenal were looking to get their first half momentum back, and they did when they struck a sumptuous second goal.
On 56 minutes, Walcott won the ball in midfield and played it into Giroud, who released Ozil. Ozil could have gone for power, like most players do, but his placement was so perfect that the ball just rolled into the net, with an outstretched Guzan unable to reach the ball.
Aston Villa continued their brief dominance, but were unable to fashion anything substantial, and Arsenal were looking menacing in attack. Walcott made a darting run having collected the ball, played it to Cazorla, who deftly played it back to the England winger. He stepped inside of the Villa defender, to curl the ball home and make it 3-0.
Paul Lambert tried to infuse some pace into the attack, bringing on Gabriel Agbonlahor and Scott Sinclair in place of the ineffective Andreas Weimann and Tom Cleverley. Arsenal, however, continued to look dangerous. A Giroud header scraped the top of the post off a Cazorla free kick. He was taken off a while later and replaced with young Academy hotshot Chuba Akpom. Theo Walcott, too, was taken off and replaced by Tomas Rosicky.
Chuba Akpom’s darting run resulted in a penalty, when he was fouled by Guzan. Santi Cazorla stepped up to take the penalty and it struck Guzan in the wrists, but the American was unable to prevent it from going into the net. Arsenal were 4-0 up. Mathieu Flamini came on for Aaron Ramsey. Chuba Akpom seemed to be the centre of attack for a while, as Santi Cazorla tried to set up the young Englishman twice.
Arsenal looked for a 5th goal, as Flamini and Bellerin combined, but the right back’s cross was cut short. Per Mertesacker almost assisted Akpom, but his shot was saved by Akpom. Akpom had another chance, his best one so far, when he was set up by Cazorla, but his shot had little power, and went straight to the keeper.
Arsenal did get their 5h goal though, when Cazorla ran through some Villa challenges to set up Bellerin, whose shot landed at the bottom corner in extra time. It was the Spaniard’s first international goal!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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