Saturday, December 1, 2007

Aston Villa vs. Arsenal: Match Review

Arsenal jumped back from a 3-1 midweek loss at Sevilla and a 1-0 deficit to beat Aston Villa 2-1 at Villa Park. The Gunners, who are still undefeated in the Premier League, allowed an early goal, but came back with two of their own before halftime to go five points clear of Chelsea with a game in hand, and six clear of last season's champions Manchester United.

Aston Villa: Scott Carson; Wilfred Bouma, Zat Knight, Olof Mellberg, Martin Laursen; Ashley Young, Gareth Barry, Craig Gardner, Stiliyan Petrov; Gabriel Agbonlahor, John Carew

Arsenal: Manuel Almunia; Bacary Sagna, William Gallas, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy; Emmanuel Eboue, Lassana Diarra, Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky, Alex Hleb; Emmanuel Adebayor

Both sides started brightly, and Scott Carson was forced to turn a low drive from Emmanuel Adebayor around the post soon after the first whistle.

Alex Hleb passed a late fitness test and had a good chance as well, breaking into Villa's 18 yard box only for Carson to tackle the ball away.

Aston Villa did much better with their first real chance of the game.

A cross from John Carew deflected off of two Arsenal defenders before falling to Craig Gardner, who left Manuel Almunia no chance with his 14th minute half-volley.

The goal brought Arsenal to life, and the Gunners were immediately rewarded with a few chances after some good build-up play.

Martin Laursen made two blocks from shots from Hleb and Adebayor, but could do nothing to stop Mathieu Flamini from scoring in the 23rd minute.

A cross from Emmanuel Eboue flicked off of Hleb's boot to find Flamini on the edge of the box. The French holding midfielder struck the ball beautifully, leaving a hapless Carson to pick the ball out of his net with Arsenal level.

At this point Arsenal looked for a second, with Laursen blocking another effort from Flamini. Scott Carson was forced to make a save from Hleb as well, but all the defending in the world could not keep Arsenal at bay.

Bacary Sagna made a nice cross in to Adebayor, who managed to beat both Olof Mellberg and Zat Knight in the air to head past Carson and give Arsenal a 2-1 lead.

It would prove to be the match winner as Arsenal's strength tapered off going in to the second half.

Villa were the better side in the second half, and Martin Laursen, who had already made some key defensive plays for his team, could've equalized early on, only to poke a shot wide.

The Villians came close again when John Carew saw his header come off of Almunia's post, but it was the closest they would get as Arsenal kept their unbeaten run going in the league.

The win over Aston Villa was a great victory for the Arsenal, but an injury to Alex Hleb (which saw the midfielder walk off in the 60th minute) soured the experience.