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Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal: Bailey goal extends Villains’ unbeaten home run

Aston Villa welcomed top-of-the-table Arsenal to Villa Park today in a Premier League game that could have massive repercussions in the title race.

Former Arsenal manager and current Villa boss Unai Emery had a chance to dent the Gunners’ title hopes.

His Villa team went into the game with momentum after 14 consecutive home wins and a 1-0 victory over reigning champions Manchester City last week.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta replaced Emery in 2019 and was looking for a crucial win against his fellow Spaniard after seeing Liverpool beat Crystal Palace to go to the top of the table.

Villa squeezed their opponents early on and scored the opening goal in the seventh minute as Leon Bailey took the ball and drove at Arsenal’s backline before shifting it to John McGinn.

The Scotsman controlled the ball, turned and fired in a lovely goal to draw first blood. It was his fourth league goal of the season – his best return in the English top flight.

Arsenal are used to having their backs against the wall this season and responded well. Bukayo Saka, starting his 150th game for the Gunners, began to get into the game and heated Emi Martinez’s palms with a shot.

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard dragged a shot inches wide from a short corner in the 35th minute as Arsenal ramped up the pressure.

Gabriel Martinelli laced a cross behind Gabriel Jesus before Martinelli beat Martinez in a foot race and lobbed the keeper. However, Villa defender Diego Carlos cleared his effort off the line.

Villa were dropping further back, and after more slick play from Arsenal, Odegaard forced Martinez into another sharp save.

Ollie Watkins hit back for the home side, tearing through Arsenal’s defensive line and forcing David Raya into a save before the assistant referee flagged him for offside.

Jesus was the next to test Martinez as the game became stretched. The striker beat Diego Carlos but found the Argentine keeper in the way again. Villa took their 1-0 lead into the half-time break.

Arsenal continued to punch passes through Villa’s backline in the second half. Martinelli was finding joy between Villa’s centre-back and right-back and set up Odegaard after breaking free again, but the Norwegian shot wide.

Arsenal created more problems as Watkins nearly scored an own goal from a corner before Saka broke through the Villa line and scored, but he was offside. 

Villa finally reminded Arsenal of their danger as substitute Moussa Diaby set up Lucas Digne after 63 minutes, forcing Raya into a save.

Diaby was terrorising Arsenal on the counter, and he set up a shot for Watkins, but the England international’s shot was comfortable for Raya.

Villa rang several changes to slow the tempo and halt the Gunners, who began to lack ideas as the game wore on. 

Arsenal’s Kai Havertz had the ball in the net late on, but the referee ruled it out for a handball in another controversial call that will cause debates for weeks.

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