Aston Villa suffered another morale-sapping loss to Arsenal on Sunday, to leave them rock bottom of the Premier League table. First half strikes from Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey were enough for Arsenal who now sit top of the table - in stark contrast to Villa.
Remi Garde named the same side that gained a point at Southampton last weekend. Jack Grealish was recalled the Villa squad after his further well publicised off-field antics, but could only find a place on the bench.
Arsenal named an unchanged side from that that won 3-0 in Athens in the Champions League on Wednesday night. Giroud, fresh from his hattrick verus Olympiacos, was keen to subject a porous home defence to yet more woe.
From the off it was cleat that The Villans would be chasing shadows for much of the 90 minutes. The Gunners probed and continue to wait for openings.
Giroud penalty gave visitors lead
Sure enough, the visitors' early 75% possession told. A long through ball found Theo Walcott who raced through into the Villa box. Alan Hutton fended off the Arsenal flyer, despite Walcott going to ground.
It appeared there was going to be no action taken, after referee Kevin Friend walked away from the situation, only for the official to return the the incident and award a penalty kick. Giroud stepped up and sent Brad Guzan the wrong way to give Arsenal the lead.
Villa went two down before half time
Villa could not get a foothold in the game. Then after having the ball on the edge of the Arsenal box, Villa conceded possession from an Aaron Ramsey interception. The Gunners countered at pace after Walcott released Mesut Ozil, to lay off to the waiting Ramsey to slot past a helpless Guzan.
Home side made a fist of it after break
Such has been the frustration of the Villa faithful this season, the home side had a number of chances to get back into proceedings. First a cross from the right found Rudy Gestede unmarked, only for the Benin forward's poor headed attempt to sail wide.
Then Scott Sinclair found space also. The former Manchester City and Swansea City man though wasted a golden opportunity by getting under the ball and heading wastefully over Petr Cech's goal. Leandro Bacuna also had an opening from the edge of the Arsenal box, with his effort curling narrowly over the bar.
In truth, the last 20 minutes was a war of attrition, as Arsenal threatened the occasional offensive dash, wary of trying to notch their first clean sheet in five games. Carles Gil and Adama Traore's introduction for Villa had limited impact on the game.
Villa desperate for form
The defeat leaves Aston Villa scratching desperatly for form. Their 12th Premier League loss of the campaign leaves Remi Garde's men drop for the top tier English football becomes more and more a reality. Eight points now separates Villa from the relative safety of 17th spot.
Villa are now without a win since the opening day of the season versus Bournemouth, but whilst The Cherries' resurgence continues, Villa face a huge away double versus Newcastle United and Norwich City over Christmas. Should further defeats come. The trapdoor may be opening, for a side who remain one of the only original Premier League incumbants.