3:30 PM GMT
James OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC
Arsenal scored doubly successful stoppage-time to snatch a melodramatic 4-2 win astatine Aston Villa to instrumentality to the apical of the Premier League.
Just arsenic it appeared Mikel Arteta's broadside were connected the verge of dropping much points, Jorginho fired a 93rd-minute changeable against the crossbar which rebounded disconnected erstwhile Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and crossed the line. Five minutes later, with Martinez caught upfield for a Villa corner, the visitors broke again and substitute Gabriel Martinelli was near to rotation the shot into an unguarded net.
It is simply a effect which moved Arsenal 3 points wide astatine the apical of the Premier League up of Manchester City's travel to Nottingham Forest aboriginal successful the day.
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The Gunners doubly came from down arsenic Bukayo Saka cancelled retired Ollie Watkins' fifth-minute opener earlier Philippe Coutinho struck his archetypal extremity of the play to reconstruct the location side's vantage astatine the break.
Oleksandr Zinchenko fired Arsenal level connected 61 minutes and determination were chances for some sides arsenic Martin Odegaard missed a glorious accidental 13 minutes from time, portion astatine the different extremity substitute Leon Bailey crashed a precocious changeable against the bar.
But Arsenal had the past laugh, rather literally, astatine Martinez. His sanction was sung gleefully by the travelling supporters arsenic the Argentine, who had antecedently been captious of his attraction astatine Emirates Stadium anterior to joining Villa successful September 2020, inadvertently handed Arsenal a perchance captious triumph successful the rubric race.
JUMP TO: Best/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Postmatch quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures
1. Arsenal permission it precocious but bounce back
Arsenal's durability successful the rubric contention was called into question aft a tally of 1 constituent from a imaginable 9 enabled Manchester City to sound them disconnected the apical of the array successful midweek for the archetypal clip since Nov. 5. Kicking disconnected conscionable 63 hours aft losing 3-1 to City, this was ever going to beryllium a trial of Arsenal's resoluteness and it became immeasurably harder aft Watkins scored aboriginal connected -- the archetypal extremity Arsenal person conceded successful the opening 15 minutes of a league lucifer this season.
Their enactment without the shot was not up to scratch astatine times -- Villa's 2nd extremity was a flowing determination from backmost to front, but determination was small unit connected the shot astatine immoderate stage. But they kept warring and recovered a mode to win, albeit benefitting from a portion of luck arsenic Jorginho's changeable cannoned disconnected the crossbar, onto the backmost of Martinez's caput the backmost of the net. This triumph arrests that mediocre tally and fires a connection to City that they inactive person genuine contention successful the rubric race.
2. Saka epitomises Arsenal's fight
This was different juncture to adhd to a increasing database wherever Saka was connected the receiving extremity of immoderate unsmooth treatment. Three days aft Saka was fouled aggregate times by Manchester City arsenic they sought to stifle Arsenal's attacking threat, Saka was again targeted astatine Villa Park, contributing to a flare up astatine the extremity of the archetypal fractional erstwhile helium shoved Coutinho successful frustration.
He inactive ended the opening 45 minutes connected the scoresheet, underlining wherefore helium has go specified a absorption for opponents: the 21-year-old has been straight progressive successful 17 goals successful the Premier League this play (nine goals, 8 assists), a grounds lone bettered by Erling Haaland and Harry Kane. And contempt going down for attraction aboriginal successful the 2nd half, Saka admirably battled connected to support taking the combat to Villa, playing the full crippled erstwhile it looked probable astatine 1 signifier helium would beryllium forced off.
Saka had suffered 40 fouls this play by the extremity of Saturday's game, the eighth-highest fig successful the Premier League. Arteta antecedently hinted astatine the England winger requiring amended extortion portion besides stating the onus is besides connected his squad to springiness Saka the shot successful a mode that reduces the hazard of opponents diving in. Regardless, Saka remained the driving unit of this Arsenal squad and deserved to extremity up connected the winning side
3. A time to hide for Martinez
Martinez has repeatedly questioned his attraction astatine Arsenal, believing the nine "didn't spot maine similar they should have" successful his attempts to go their fig 1 goalkeeper. Martinez went connected to beryllium his constituent successful an Argentina broadside that won the World Cup successful Qatar, but his presumption of Arsenal created an animosity which led the travelling supporters present to chant an unfavourable examination to Aaron Ramsdale.
And that was earlier the melodramatic denouement. The Arsenal fans sang Martinez's sanction with gusto astatine the climax of this crippled arsenic archetypal helium scored an unfortunate ain extremity and was past caught upfield arsenic Martinelli rolled successful a fourth.
He has a conflict to beryllium afloat compatible with Unai Emery's tendency to play retired from the back. Villa's 2nd extremity present showcased that strategy astatine its best. It was a extremity which began with Martinez rolling retired the shot to his centre-backs, Jacob Ramsey moving done midfield arsenic Villa built down the near with Alexandre Morena Lopera crossing for Coutinho to slot location his archetypal extremity of the season. Yet the nervousness successful the stands was palpable arsenic Villa persisted with the tactic, with Martinez kicking the shot consecutive retired of play connected much than 1 juncture arsenic helium tried successful vain to find a teammate. This was a time to hide for the 30-year-old.
Best and worst performers
Bukayo Saka: Kept going tirelessly and did arsenic overmuch arsenic anyone to unit Arsenal's comeback.
Ollie Watkins: Was a changeless menace for Villa and took his aboriginal extremity brilliantly.
Jorginho: Struggled erstwhile Villa counter-attacked but the Italy planetary was intelligent successful possession and ensured Arsenal kept probing.
Emiliano Martinez: A nightmare day against his erstwhile nine ,and overmuch of the vexation astatine Villa's struggles playing retired from the backmost were aimed astatine him.
William Saliba: After struggling against Ivan Toney and Erling Haaland, Saliba's mediocre tally of signifier continued arsenic helium failed to header with Watkins.
Eddie Nketiah: Wasteful successful beforehand of extremity again and was fortunate it did not outgo Arsenal.
Highlights and notable moments
The lucifer delivered a Hollywood ending, but determination was a spot of Tinseltown astatine Villa Park adjacent earlier kick-off arsenic acting fable and Villa instrumentality Tom Hanks was successful attendance
It's a pleasance to person you with america astatine Villa Park, @TomHanks! 🤝 #AVLARS pic.twitter.com/fKiqU5swcI— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) February 18, 2023
Whatever helium said to the location squad successful the locker country intelligibly worked due to the fact that Hanks had hardly taken his spot earlier Watkins opened the scoring.
Tom Hanks watching Aston Villa instrumentality the pb against Arsenal 👀 pic.twitter.com/wFToLdEJ2S— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 18, 2023
But it was Arsenal who were the stars of the amusement arsenic they ended up claiming a stunning precocious victory. It was a crippled that featured immoderate stunning goals, but the astir memorable volition surely beryllium to beryllium Martinez's ain extremity if Arsenal spell connected to triumph the title.— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 18, 2023
After the match: What the players/managers said
Postmatch quotes volition look here...
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)
Match stats volition look here...
Aston Villa: Unai Emery's men question to play Everton successful 7 days' clip earlier hosting Crystal Palace connected Saturday, March 4.
Arsenal: The Gunners person a travel to Leicester City adjacent Saturday. After that, they person a speedy accidental for revenge with the sojourn to the Emirates connected Wednesday, March 1 of Everton, whose decision of Arsenal astatine the commencement of February kicked disconnected their mediocre tally of form.