Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa: Smith Rowe shines as Gunners seal vital win
(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Just four days after Alexandre Lacazette’s 94th minute equaliser against Crystal Palace on Monday night, Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal side were back in action at the Emirates Stadium to welcome Aston Villa who had only achieved two wins in their previous four Premier League fixtures.

Despite the lacklustre, frustrating display on Monday eve, it was refreshing to see such a fluid, and convincing performance from Arsenal, easing past Dean Smith's side. 

Two first-half strikes and a second period goal from Emile Smith Rowe marked a dominant performance by Arteta’s men, moving them up to the same number of points as rivals Manchester United. 

Story of the match

The Emirates faithful attended in force on this Friday night game, getting well behind their team, and providing the backing as the 12th player urging their side on. Thomas Partey opened the scoring, converting a header from close range just shortly after striking the crossbar of ex-Gunner Emiliano Martinez’s goal.

Arteta’s side remained utterly superior throughout the rest of the period and, just prior to referee Craig Pawson blowing for half time, man of the moment Alexandre Lacazette was bought down in the box and, following a lengthy on field check, Pawson awarded a spot kick to the Arsenal, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stepping up against his former teammate in attempt to double the Gunners lead.

The initial strike was parried by the Argentinian national keeper however, the ice cool Aubameyang followed through, placing the ball into the back of the net.

The second half kicked off in similar fashion with the Gunners playing some high-quality football and pressing with a tempo, trying to win the ball back as high up the field as possible.

Aubameyang linked up with starlet Smith Rowe, looping a pass in behind which the youngster chased and struck home via a deflection from England International Tyrone Mings.  

Aston Villa did unsettle the Emirates crowd with a late surge and wonder strike from Jacob Ramsey who placed his shot into the top bracket of the Clock End goal after Leon Bailey dodged and weaved his way past the Arsenal defenders on the edge of the box. 

Despite this late resurgence, Mikel Arteta’s men dug deep and ensured that all three points remained in the capital. 


Disaster return to N7 for Emi Martinez

Former Gunner’s stopper Emi Martinez received a hostile reception from his former fans, being booed straight away after many supporters felt that their ex-player had not respected the club enough since his departure to Birmingham.

Martinez was quoted in interviews suggesting that his move from north London to Villa was a step up in his career. This didn't sit well with some. 

Some verbal disputes between Martinez and Lacazette around the penalty kick were captured on camera whilst chants of Aaron Ramsdale he’s better than you” rang around the ground.

Martinez thought he had silenced the hostile fans when he initially saved the Arsenal captain's penalty but, was later seen burying his head into his hands after seeing the ball fly into the net past his outstretched gloves. 

Smith Rowe shines bright again

One of Hale End’s finest products Emile Smith Rowe was awarded the Sky Sports 'Man Of The Match' award at full time after a fantastic display, playing on the left-hand side of Arsenal’s XI.

A goal and an assist topped off a breathtaking display. The youngster has now scored and assisted in two of his last three games at Emirates Stadium, playing a crucial role in Arsenal obtaining all three points on Friday night.

Mikel Arteta’s side now face a cup tie when Leeds United visit north London on Tuesday night before travelling to the King Power for a tough test against Brendan Rodgers' Leicester City where Arsenal will hope to continue their unbeaten run. 

Starting XI's

Arsenal: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares; Saka, Lokonga, Partey, Smith Rowe; Lacazette, Aubameyang. (4-4-2)

Aston Villa: Martinez; Konsa, Tuanzebe, Mings; Cash, McGinn, Luiz, Targett; Buendia; Watkins, Ings. (3-4-1-2)