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Aston Villa stun Arsenal at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal failed to take advantage of Liverpool’s slip-up as the Premier League title race swung firmly in Manchester City’s favour after the Gunners lost 2-0…

Arsenal failed to take advantage of Liverpool’s slip-up as the Premier League title race swung firmly in Manchester City’s favour after the Gunners lost 2-0 at home to Aston Villa.

Liverpool’s surprise 1-0 defeat at home to Crystal Palace earlier in the day had provided Mikel Arteta’s second-placed side with the chance to not only leapfrog City but move three points clear of the Reds.

Yet a sloppy second-half performance from the Gunners ultimately resulted in Villa substitute Leon Bailey side-footing home in the 84th minute before Ollie Watkins rounded off a magnificent win for the visitors, which may just see Arsenal’s title hopes slip away.

Emiliano Martinez had been on stunning form to thwart his former club in the first half, paving the way for Villa’s attack to capitalise and move Unai Emery’s team three points clear of Tottenham Hotspur in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification.

Watkins looped a first-minute header over David Raya’s goal, though that was Villa’s only chance in a one-sided opening controlled by Arsenal.

Martinez repelled a fizzing Kai Havertz drive before Gabriel Jesus inexplicably headed wide following an inviting right-wing cross from Bukayo Saka, who drilled into the side-netting soon after.

A frantic 37 seconds towards the end of the first half saw both sides go agonisingly close.

Gabriel Magalhaes’ mistake gifted Watkins an opportunity, but he could only power a right-footed effort against Raya’s right-hand post, before Martinez produced one of the saves of the season at the other end.

The Villa goalkeeper reacted with rapid reflexes to somehow keep out Leandro Trossard’s prod from point-blank range following Jesus’ low delivery, while Saka curled narrowly wide just moments later.

Villa almost opened the scoring just past the hour as Youri Tielemans’ terrific effort from the left corner of the box cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and Raya’s left-hand post.

Yet with Arsenal stuttering, Villa took advantage with a stunning late show.

Lucas Digne’s left-wing centre evaded everyone bar Bailey, who calmly converted at the far post.

And Villa’s brilliant win was capped off when Tielemans played in Watkins to chip over Raya, with Arsenal slumping to a first league defeat in 2024.

Advantage Man City
Though a Champions League quarter-final second leg awaits at Bayern Munich in midweek, Arteta opted for just three changes as Arsenal chased another much-needed victory in the Premier League title race.

The Gunners had won 10 of their last 11 top-flight games (D1), scoring at least twice in each victory, yet that impressive streak came to an abrupt end as Arteta’s side failed to fire.

The title race is far from over but, when it comes to going up against Man City, it could be considered that the writing is somewhat on the wall.

With Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United to come in their final six league fixtures, Arsenal have to get their heads up, and quick.

Emery does the double
Villa lost 4-1 against Man City in their last Premier League trip but avoided back-to-back away defeats in the competition after a remarkable showing at the Emirates, where Emery got one better over his former club, just as he did at Villa Park earlier in the campaign.

Against last season’s top four, Villa had lost each of their previous away games by an aggregate score of 12-4 but managed to hold Arsenal at arm’s length before capitalising late on in the final meeting with that quartet.

This impressive victory on the road keeps Emery’s team in complete control of their Champions League hopes after Spurs were hammered 4-0 by Newcastle United on Saturday.

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