WTTGT Reporter: Tashan Deniran-Alleyne
ASTON VILLA 1-2 ARSENAL
Arsenal bounced back from their defeat at Manchester City with a win against Aston Villa thanks to late header from Yossi Benayoun.
With Johan Djourou and Alex Song unavailable due to injury and suspension respectively Arsenal made two changes to the team which lost at the Etihad Stadium with Francis Coquelin slotting in at right-back and Emmanuel Frimpong coming into the midfield.
The first chance of the game fell to hosts following a short corner which was swung in by Charles N’Zogbia and met by the head of Gabby Agbonlahor whose header was straight at Szczesny.
Another chance fell to the Villains after good work from N’Zogbia on the left and crossed for Agbonlahor, who could only see his effort fly over the bar under pressure from Aaron Ramsey.
Arsenal were then handed a opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot after Theo Walcott was pulled back by Ciaran Clark in the area, Robin van Persie stepped up to fire home his 20th of the season and put the Gunners ahead, with their first meaningful attack of the game.
Their second almost doubled the lead as van Persie released Walcott whose attempted lob was blocked by Brad Guzan.
Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland was then inches away from getting on the end of an Alan Hutton cross to equalise. Ramsey was played in by van Persie, but took his shot early and fired wide, with Walcott in acres of space to his right.
Villa substitute Barry Bannan almost made an immediate impact after replacing Ireland as his free-kick went narrowly wide in the closing minutes of the first half which ended with the visitors a goal ahead.
Mark Albrighton capitalised on a poor header from Thomas Vermaelen to poke the ball past Per Mertesacker and cooly finish past Szczesny for the 20,000th Premier League goal. The German defender then was denied by Guzan at the other end following a corner.
But it was the hosts who upped the pressure and looked more likely to scoring the next goal with N’Zogbia causing problems on the left hand-side.
Arsenal then made a change with Tomas Rosicky replacing Frimpong. The Czech midfielder immediately made a difference to the team and saw an effort blocked, before fellow substitute Andrei Arshavin saw an attempt deflect of Hutton for a corner.
It was from that corner kick that Arsenal regained the lead as Benayoun, who replaced Ramsey minutes earlier, was left unmarked to head home van Persie’s set-piece.
Alan Hutton was sent off for two bookable offences for a challenge on Vermaelen as Arsenal kicked off the hectic Christmas period with a hard thought win.
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