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McGinn secures record home victory for Aston Villa

9 Dec 2023
John McGinna celebrates his goal v Arsenal

Captain's early goal enough to beat Arsenal and send team only two points off the top

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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

Top four

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
1 Liverpool LIV 26 +38 60
2 Man City MCI 26 +33 59
3 Arsenal ARS 26 +39 58
4 Aston Villa AVL 26 +21 52
Full table

While the victory was not achieved in the same dominant manner with which they dispatched of Man 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.

John McGinn scores
John McGinn puts Aston Villa ahead in the seventh minute

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. 

Then 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 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 to slow 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.

Havertz handball v Aston Villa
Kai Havertz handles the ball before scoring in stoppage time for Arsenal

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. 

Next five fixtures
Key facts

- Aston Villa have won their last 15 Premier League home games, only the fifth such run by any side in the competition’s history.
- Aston Villa have become the fourth team to play the previous season’s top two in consecutive Premier League matches and win them both, after Liverpool in December 2000, Southampton in May 2001 and Manchester United in December 2002.
- Arsenal have failed to score in two of their eight Premier League away games this season (also 0-1 v Newcastle), as many as in their 19 on the road in the competition last term.
- Unai Emery has won 26 of his 41 Premier League games in charge of Aston Villa (D6 L9), more than he managed in 51 games in charge of Arsenal in the competition (W25 D13 L13).

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