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Aston Villa 0 - 3 Arsenal: More Like It

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Arsenal traveled to Villa Park, where they have not lost in 16 years, and took apart the home side today for their second victory this season.

Laurence Griffiths


0 - 1 Mesut Özil 33'
0 - 2 Danny Welbeck 34'
0 - 3 Aly Cissohko 35' og

Arsenal, who had struggled to score this year while also looking shaky against the counter, improved vastly in both areas today to subdue a second-place Aston Villa squad looking to maintain their excellent start. An explosion of goals in the first half, almost the only furious action of note for the duration of the match, saw off the Birmingham side easily, and Arsenal seem to have stabilized things rather well after one of their worst performances in recent years midweek in Germany.

A EDIT: nevermind, Wenger just rested him, I wasn't awake yet gametime injury to Alexis Sanchez meant that Arsenal had to start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in his place, and whether or not that had anything to do with it, Arsenal also reverted to the 4-2-3-1 formation of last year, putting Özil in the middle and Santi Cazorla and Ox on the wings with Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta behind them. Villa, for their part, had to make do without Ashley Westwood, who succumbed to a virus pre-match and was late scratch. Although there were moments early the first half when Villa looked menacing countering through Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor, Arsenal maintained possession much, much more effectively and coped much better with what pressing Villa attempted.

For all that stability, though, it was Villa who had the first good chance of the match after 20 or so minutes, perhaps predictably through a set piece. Ciaran Clark escaped the attentions of Kieran Gibbs and ran onto a free point-blank header. However, Wojciech Szczesny saw the problem emerging, made himself big, and did enough to smother the effort out for a corner, keeping the match scoreless.

Arsenal were keeping the ball well but finding little cutting edge, but that's an aspect we've all seen before--maintaining possession until the opportunity presents itself and then pouncing. And Arsenal did pounce, 33 minutes in, as Welbeck picked up the ball, strode forward, and split the defenders with a diagonal pass, spotting the run of Özil, who found himself alone in against Brad Guzan and made no mistake, calmly slipping his shot past the American.

Arsenal wasted no time--well, 79 seconds, but who's counting--before the German returned the favor. With their first attack after the goal, Aaron Ramsey found Özil out on the left, Welbeck cutting back across and curling around beyond the far defender, and the whole scene developed to suit Özil perfectly. He sent a low cross between the defense and Guzan, and Welbeck made no mistake, arriving to smash home Arsenal's second.

Before the away support even had a chance to sit down, though, it was three--Kieran Gibbs, this time, cutting in from the left, opted to just smash the ball towards the far post in the hopes of something happening, and Aly Cissohko helplessly put in his second own goal of the year. Hard on him, perhaps, as Ox was perhaps arriving to slot it home at the far post anyhow, but the defender could have probably avoided steering the cross home as aptly as he did.

3-0 down, the hosts kept looking for hope on the counter, but Arsenal were better organized than they had been in previous matches, and despite some set piece scares, the next sixty minutes floated past with very little threat from either side, in truth. Late subs Lukas Podolski, Tomas Rosicky, and Jack Wilshere continued Arsenal's possession play, but didn't fashion any clear chances, and the match ended, having been fatally wounded by the shotgun blast of the first half.

Back on track.