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Arsenal title hopes crushed in defeat to Aston Villa

Arsenal title hopes crushed in defeat to Aston Villa

Sunday, 14 April, 2024

Arsenal relinquished control of the Premier League title race after being beaten 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium by Aston Villa, ending the Gunners’ five-match winning streak on their own turf in the league.

Both sides came into the fixture buoyed after teams around them in the table had dropped points earlier in the weekend. Arsenal were hoping to return to top spot and it was the Gunners with the early chances with Kai Havertz proving dangerous.

First, the German saw a shot at the near post saved by Emiliano Martinez, before creating space in the box for Gabriel Jesus to have a free header at the back post, but the Brazilian failed to hit the target after being picked out by Bukayo Saka.

Saka himself was then guilty of not being able to keep an effort on target after collecting a superb Martin Odegaard pass, with Arsenal’s top scorer this season smashing his shot into the side netting.

Villa were on the ropes for large parts of the first half, but as Arsenal struggled to make their dominance count, Unai Emery’s men were beginning to create openings on the counter-attack. Ollie Watkins almost made one count, too, but his drilled effort cannoned off the inside of the post.

Leandro Trossard then had the best chance of the half after Jesus flashed the ball across the box, but the Belgian was denied by the feet of ex-Arsenal shot stopper Martinez.

Arsenal were second-best following the restart, with Villa stringing sequences of possession together.

The home support sensed the change in momentum and tried their best to will the hosts on, but the fans almost had a shock after Oleksandr Zinchenko was dispossessed in his own box and Youri Tielemans unleashed a thunderous effort that smashed off the bar and the post.

Mikel Arteta had to turn to his bench in an attempt to swing momentum back in his side’s favour, but despite the changes, it was Villa who found the elusive opening goal in the 84th minute.

The Gunners failed to clear a corner, and Lucas Digne’s ball across goal evaded the Arsenal defence, allowing Leon Bailey to pop up at the back post to steer home from a tight angle.

The points were wrapped up minutes later following a quick break from an Arsenal corner as Watkins broke forward and exquisitely lofted the ball over David Raya – securing a vital three points for themselves for the top-four race and also for the landscape of the title race.

Villa are now three points ahead of Tottenham, while Arsenal sit in second spot, two points behind league leaders and defending champions Manchester City.

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