WTTGT Writer: Tashan Deniran-Alleyne
ARSENAL 3-2 ASTON VILLA
(F.A Cup 4th Round)
Arsenal produced a stunning 16 minute second half spell to come from two goals behind against Aston Villa at the Emirates to book their place in the 5th round of the FA Cup.
Arsenal made two changes to the team which lost against Manchester United a week ago with Lukasz Fabianski making his first appearance since early December and Francis Coquelin replacing Johan Djourou at right-back. Whilst on the bench there was a place for Bacary Sagna after a long layoff following a broken leg.
Aaron Ramsey had the first shot of the game, but didn’t test Shay Given, but the Irishman had to be at full stretch to deny Thomas Vermaelen’s fierce long range effort. Theo Walcott then skipped into the penalty area but sliced his shot wide.
The hosts survived a scare when Darren Bent was inches away from connecting with a loose ball in the area, but Fabianski made a decent block. Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain went close moments later, cutting in from the left but dragged his shot wide.
For all of Arsenal’s positive play, it was the visitors who opened the scoring as a short corner between Stylian Petrov and Robbie Keane allowed the latter time and space to float a cross into the area which was met by Richard Dunne who powered his header past Fabianski.
Chamberlain saw his powerful drive saved by Given as the Gunners searched for an equaliser prior to half-time. But Villa dealt the hosts with a sucker punch as Petrov and Stephen Ireland combined to feed Bent whose first effort was saved by Fabianski but the striker was alert to slot home the rebound from an acute angle to give his side a shock two goal lead at half-time.
Per Mertesacker was denied minutes after the restart as his header from Robin van Persie’s corner was cleared off the line by Ireland. Richard Dunne brought down Ramsey to give Arsenal a penalty and Van Persie sent Given the wrong way to reduce the deficit and reward the hosts for a positive start to the second half.
The gunners drew level three minutes later when Walcott raced down the right but saw his first effort saved by Given but then Alan Hutton’s attempted clearance cannoned off the Arsenal forward and into the net.
The turnaround was complete on the hour mark as Laurent Koscielny’s foray up the pitch saw him brought down in the penalty area by Bent, giving the hosts another penalty and Van Persie stepped up again to net his second spot-kick of the game to put his side ahead.
Ciaran Clark went close for Villa with 12 minutes to go as his header from another well worked set-piece bounced into the arms of Fabianski. With the game nearing its end the hosts brought on Sagna to a standing ovation as the Gunners sealed their place in the 5th round of the FA Cup.
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