Aston Villa 1 – 0 Arsenal

Ollie Watkins’ second-minute goal proved the winner as Aston Villa’s 1-0 victory condemned Arsenal to a second league defeat in five days.

Watkins made the most of some lax defending between Cedric Soares and Gabriel, which allowed Bertrand Traore to steal in before teeing up his team-mate for a close-range finish with only 74 seconds on the clock.

Ryan could not have wished for a worse start to his debut than to pick the ball out of his own net with barely a minute on the clock, after Cedric’s weak pass to Gabriel instead found an alert Traore, whose excellent pass for Watkins was turned home via a deflection for the opening goal.

It took Arsenal 29 minutes to even consider replying in kind, when Granit Xhaka’s free-kick was palmed behind by Martinez in their first shot on target of the afternoon.

Things got little better after half-time, with Arsenal again slow out of the blocks and denied a second by more impressive goalkeeping to deny long-range efforts from Watkins and McGinn. That was, at least, interspersed with a rare moment of Gunners quality in attack as Pepe took Xhaka’s pass on the turn and planted a shot wide from a good position.

Arteta’s introduction of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Martin Odegaard from the bench did spark Arsenal into life, with Tyrone Mings twice at his best to block the former at close-range.

Arsenal’s need to press forward in the latter stages gave Villa even more room to attack, and both Watkins and Grealish came close to doubling the lead in the final 10 minutes.

Two defeats in five days means Arsenal could end the weekend as low as 13th, and as many as eight points off a European spot.

Source: Sky Sports

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