Gunners fire five past Aston Villa
Arsenal stepped up their renewed challenge for a top four place in the Premier League with a ruthless 5-0 demolition of struggling Aston Villa on Sunday. Arsene Wenger’s side moved above Tottenham into fifth place and within touching distance of fourth-placed Southampton in the race to qualify for the Champions League thanks to their biggest win of the season.
Olivier Giroud opened the scoring early in the first half at the Emirates Stadium and Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin struck after the interval to seal Arsenal’s fifth successive win in all competitions. After their impressive victory at champions Manchester City last month, this was more evidence that Arsenal, who were able to leave new Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista as an unused substitute, are finally hitting their stride after a spluttering first half of the season. In contrast, woeful Villa are hovering three points above the relegation zone after a third successive league defeat.
Arsenal’s early dominance was rewarded in the eighth minute when Ozil produced a sublime volleyed back-flick to redirect Per Mertesacker’s long ball into the path of Giroud. The French forward galloped onto Ozil’s pass, took two touches to steady himself and clipped a cool finish past Brad Guzan for his eighth goal of the season.
Pressing forward in search for an equaliser after changing sides, Lambert’s team was caught cold by an Arsenal counter in the 56th minute. Giroud collected a long ball and slipped a perfectly weighted pass to Ozil, whose run had taken him beyond the Villa defence. The German midfielder guided a fine strike into the far corner for just his second league goal of the season, with the other also coming against Villa in September. ragile morale and Walcott took advantage to claim his first league goal since January last year in the 63rd minute.
After a long battle to return from a serious knee injury, the England winger netted in the FA Cup against Brighton last week and continued his return to peak form with a clinical finish from Cazorla’s pass as the Villa defence parted obligingly. The margin of defeat became even more embarrassing for Villa in the 75th minute when Guzan brought down substitute Chuba Akpom and Cazorla just managed to squeeze his penalty past the American goalkeeper.
City hold Chelsea 1-1
Spanish midfielder David Silva equalised as Manchester City prevented Chelsea pulling eight points clear at the Premier League summit in a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge late on Saturday.
Loic Remy put Chelsea in front in the 41st minute but Silva touched in a shot from Sergio Aguero four minutes later to keep the defending champions five points behind Jose Mourinho’s side with 15 matches remaining.