Matchweek 16
All times shown are your local time
Sat 9 Dec 2023
Kick Off:
Villa Park, Birmingham
Att: 42,000
Ref: Jarred Gillett




Aston Villa burnished their title credentials with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal, three days after beating Manchester City by the same score. An early goal from John McGinn earned them a club-record 15th home league win in a row and took them up to third, a point off their vanquished opponents, and two points off new league leaders Liverpool. 

While the victory was not achieved in the same dominant manner with which they dispatched of Manchester City on Wednesday night, they hung on well to prevent an equaliser from an Arsenal team, who rued a failure to take their chances.  

How the match unfolded

As against Man City, Villa started like a train at Villa Park and this time their early pressure paid off as they took the lead in the seventh minute. 

Leon Bailey, their hero against City, drove into the box, and cut the ball back to McGinn near the penalty spot. The Scot swivelled before rifling the ball past David Raya.

After Villa’s dream start, Arsenal started to find a way through and came close on a number of occasions in the first half, with four shots on target. 

First, Martin Odegaard’s low-driven shot went agonisingly wide.  

Then, in the 36th minute Gabriel Martinelli ran through on goal and lifted the ball over Emiliano Martinez, but Diego Carlos came to the rescue, chasing back to clear the ball before it went in. 

Gabriel Jesus played the ball back to Odegaard near the penalty spot, but the captain’s shot was telegraphed and well saved by Martinez.  

Arsenal started the second half brightly and almost scored thanks to confusion in the Villa defence. Martinez failed to claim a corner swung in by Bukayo Saka and the fumbled ball hit Ollie Watkins and then the post before Villa cleared.

As Villa players started to tire, Arsenal piled on the pressure. Havertz burst through the left and crossed the ball to Odegaard, but again he sidefooted wide.

Amid this pressure, Villa showed an occasional threat on the break and Watkins forced Raya into action in the 68th minute after substitute Moussa Diaby had broken away. 

Unai Emery’s second-half substitutions breathed new life into Villa and slowed down Arsenal’s advances. 

In the second minute of stoppage time Arsenal thought they had got their equaliser through Kai Havertz, but the bundled goal was ruled out for handball by the German in the build-up.

A second defeat of the season for Arsenal leaves them second on 36 points, one above Villa, for whom Emery got one over his former team.

Aston Villa report | Arsenal report

Match Officials

Referee: Jarred Gillett (pictured). Assistants: Darren Cann, James Mainwaring. Fourth official: Graham Scott. VAR: Michael Salisbury. Assistant VAR: Scott Ledger.

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Club Reports

Match officials

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Fourth Official: Graham Scott

VAR: Michael Salisbury

Assistant VAR: Scott Ledger

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