Danny Welbeck got his first goal for Arsenal and Mesut Ozil registered his first of the season as a burst of three strikes in less than four first-half minutes secured the Gunners victory at previously unbeaten Aston Villa.
Ozil opened the scoring with a calm finish to Welbeck's through-ball inside the penalty area before teeing up the stirker for the second. The scoring was completed when Villa's Aly Cissokho put the ball into his own net attempting to clear a Kieran Gibbs' cross to secure the Gunners' first Barclays Premier League win since the opening day of the season.
Villa's preparations had been hampered by a virus hitting their squad and manager Paul Lambert, who signed a new contract on Wednesday, was forced into a late change when Ashley Westwood pulled out of the warm-up to join Nathan Baker as one of two players absent from the XI who had defeated Liverpool at Anfield. Arsenal were also required to change their team before kick-off, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starting and Alexis Sanchez named on the bench.
It was Villa who appeared least affected by their enforced switch as they quickly claimed the initiative. Fabian Delph forced Wojciech Szczesny into a smart save early on with a fine effort from the edge of the area before Arsenal had to defend two corners. Welbeck failed to take the visitors' best opportunity of the opening exchanges, firing over from 25 yards with the Villa defence backpedalling.
Alan Hutton and Aaron Ramsey traded long-distance efforts but it was Ciaran Clark who missed a good chance to put Villa ahead when he headed straight at Szczesny after meeting a curling free-kick delivery from the left.
Villa were left to rue that miss just past the half hour mark, as Arsenal forged ahead in some style. A Welbeck through-ball allowed Ozil to escape the hosts' defence for the first time in the match and he made no mistake as he sidefooted the ball past Brad Guzan.
Seventy-nine seconds later Welbeck and Ozil reversed roles, the German sliding a perfect pass across the box after being released on the left for Welbeck to fire into the net. Almost instantly it was 3-0 as Villa's Cissokho inadvertently slid a low cross from Gibbs into his own net. In total, 196 seconds had elapsed between Arsenal's first and third goals, the quickest a side has hit three goals in a BPL match.
Lambert looked to turn the tide of the match at half-time by introducing Jack Grealish in place of Andreas Weimann, but Arsenal continued to control possession. Chances were few in the second period, with Villa looking to limit the damage and the visitors happy to hold on to a comfortable lead.
Arsenal did just that in the end and moved to within three points of leaders Chelsea, who face Manchester City on Sunday.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "To play Arsenal you need everyone fit. The players have been brilliant so far this season and if somebody had said we would have 10 points by this time I would have taken it.
"You try to play everything [the virus sweeping the camp] down but Ashley Westwood was being sick in the warm-up and Andreas Weimann was getting it during the game. Nathan Baker and Darren Bent were also out with it.
"We are probably going to let the lads stay away for a couple of days. The staff have got it as well. I don't know what kind of virus it is but it is certainly doing its job."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "We had a good workrate from the start and very good concentration and a very good first half where we were in control and dominated the game. The second half was more about keeping the result - overall it was a very important game.
"I think they got a big blow with the first goal and they couldn't recover and we took advantage of it very quickly and after that it was game over.
"Ozil and Welbeck combined very well today, especially in the first half when we had our good moments. We have had a decent start and are in a good position and I'm confident we will go from strength to strength."
|04 Oct 2014||v Man City (H)|
|02 Nov 2014||v Spurs (H)|
|24 Nov 2014||v Southampton (H)|
|13 Dec 2014||v West Brom (A)|
|02 Dec 2014||v Crystal Palace (A)|
|29 Nov 2014||v Burnley (A)|