Arsenal eased to a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa, thanks to goals from Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta. It was a stroll in the sun for the Gunners and it took their winning run to seven Premier League matches – the club’s best sequence since October 2007.
Arsenal began the match knowing nearest rivals Chelsea and Tottenham had played out a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.
The Gunners started slowly and Marc Albrighton had the first chance for the visitors, when he raced clear but fired over as Gibbs challenged. Arsenal then took control of the match and went close in the seventh minute when Thomas Vermaelen headed over from a corner. A wonderful flowing move then resulted in Robin van Persie back-heeling perfectly into the path of the oncoming Walcott. Shay Given was well positioned to save the England winger’s first-time drive.
The first goal duly arrived in the 16th minute. Gibbs and Gervinho exchanged passes in the Villa penalty area, before the fullback unleashed a low hard drive towards the near post. Given was unable to stop the shot and only parried the ball into the goal. The goal was Gibbs first in the Premier League and only his second ever in professional football.
The Gunners began to show their swagger and looked confident off the back of six consecutive victories. The second goal was simple and clinical but no less beautiful than the kind of goal we’ve come to expect from Arsène Wenger’s side.
Song played a glorious lofted ball over the static Villa defence into the path of Walcott, who took the ball down perfectly before finishing with aplomb inside the near post.
Arsenal were now dominant and had further opportunities to extend the lead before half-time. Captain van Persie had a shot brilliantly cleared off the line by Stephen Warnock and then a tremendous drive from Arteta forced Given to tip over the crossbar.
Next Page: Second Half report plus Opta Match Stats
The second-half continued in much the same vein and although Arsenal never appeared to be in any danger from Villa – the introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got the crowd buzzing again. The young star showed his potential with a couple of scintillating dribbles.
Arsenal had 72% of possession in the game and their complete domination resulted in a richly deserved third goal. Deep into injury time, Song was fouled outside the area. Arteta stepped up to crack home a thunderous free kick from 25 yards that swerved and dipped beyond the despairing dive of Given.
[table id=57 /]
As you can see from the statistics above (via our Stats Centre powered by Opta) Arsenal’s complete domination is illustrated by the fact Arteta, Sagna & Song completed 187 passes together – more than the entire Aston Villa team combined, who completed just 152. However, it was not only possession that the Gunners but also attempts on goal. Villa did not muster a single shot on target. The much-maligned Arsenal defence is now the only side in the Premier League to restrict their opponents to no shots on more than one occasion this season. A further statistic that emphasises Arsenal’s complete performance is the extraordinary fact they won 100% of their attempted tackles.
Alex Song was again inspirational. Not only did the Cameroon midfielder get his eighth assist of the season, he had 90% pass accuracy, played 7 long balls with 100% accuracy, made three perfect tackles (the most in the match), made one interception and had one successful dribble.
My Man of the Match goes to Mikel Arteta who was brilliant. The Spaniard completed 90% of his passes (61/68). In the attacking half this was even better with 96% of his passes (20/21) finding a teammate. As well as his phenomenal strike from distance, Arteta made six crosses, won three fouls (the most in the match), made three key passes and one interception. The midfielder’s importance to Arsenal cannot be underestimated and this is highlighted by the amazing statistic that Arsenal have not won a game this season in which he has not played. With Arteta in the side, the Gunners win 72% of their matches.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.