MATCH REPORT: Ollie Watkins continued his recent hot-streak as Aston Villa bolstered their European hopes with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal at Villa Park.
- 2nd Half
- 1st Half
Aston Villa - Arsenal
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Tickets: Barclays Premier League official site
- End of 2nd Half
FT: Villa 1-0 Arsenal. Watkins scores again as Villa bolster their European push with an important win over rivals Arsenal. The Gunners suffer back-to-back league defeats and stay 10th ahead of the rest of the weekend's fixtures.
- Yellow cardJack GrealishAston Villa
Grealish booked after picking up a head injury. He looks surprised and rightly so!
- Yellow cardGranit XhakaArsenal
Wonderful play from Grealish. He intercepts a ball forward and eases the pressure with a mazy run that leads to a foul. Xhaka is booked and Villa are close to the points.
Martinez races off his line to pluck the ball out of the air after a left-wing cross had almost dropped for Odegaard.
Five minutes added.
Ramsey spins into space deep in Arsenal territory. He fakes the pass, shows nice feet and then curls a 25-shot towards the far corner that Ryan easily deals with.
All hands to the pump for that Villa defence as Arsenal probe. Can the visitors sneak a draw?
It's end to end stuff. Watkins again threatens to finish the job for Villa but can't get past Ryan. He's had a decent debut for the Gunners.
Almost 1-1. Odegaard arrives on cue to meet Saka's cut back, but rifles over the bar. Arteta holds his face in his hands. That was a big chance.
CLOSE! Watkins steers a shot towards the far post on the stretch, but sees it roll agonisingly wide.
Willian drops the shoulder, beats his man and fires in a low shot that Mings hacks to safety.
SAVE! Ryan with another fine save. This time he denies Grealish's driven shot from the left of the area.
- OffRoss BarkleyAston Villa
- OnJacob RamseyAston Villa
VILLA CHANGE: Ramsey on for Barkley.
DID YOU KNOW? An 11th Premier League victory here would be the most by Aston Villa in a season for a decade.Still plenty of work to be done to achieve that though. Arsenal are on top.
- OffThomas ParteyArsenal
ARSENAL CHANGE: Partey looks to have pulled a muscle again! He'll be replaced by Willian.
STAT: Aston Villa have won 10 of their 11 league matches this season when they've scored the first goal.
The threat has been all from Arsenal in this second period. Villa looked strong at the start of it, but have faded slightly as an attacking force.
Pepe spins into space on the left side of the box and sizzles in a deflected shot that Martinez somehow diverts away with his right boot.
Smith Rowe is in acres of space coming in to attack the far post, but the ball is taken away from him by Aubameyang as the striker rose to try and nod home a left-wing cross on the stretch.
- OffBertrand TraoréAston Villa
- OnTrezeguetAston Villa
VILLA CHANGE: Trezeguet on for Traore.
- OffCédric SoaresArsenal
- OnMartin ØdegaardArsenal
ARSENAL CHANGE: Odegaard on for Cedric.
Mings does remarkably well to deny Arsenal inside his own six-yard box after Pepe had taken down a clipped ball on the left side of the box and rifled a cross-shot into the danger zone.
Will Watkins give Gareth Southgate some food for thought before the Euros?
Ryan has made some fine stops since the setback of conceding that early goal on his debut.
- OffAlexandre LacazetteArsenal
- OnPierre-Emerick AubameyangArsenal
ARSENAL CHANGE: Aubameyang on for Lacazette.
Arsenal threaten again. This time they break at speed. It's fed to Saka on the right, but his low drive towards the far post is blocked by Targett. Villa's defence is working over-time at present.
One for the cameras as Martinez dives to his right to calmly hang on to Bellerin's curling strike from the edge of the box.
That's a magnificent block from Mings. Smith Rowe bewitched the Villa defence and then pulled the trigger from just inside the area, but Mings denied him with a last-ditch challenge.
More fine work from Ryan. This time he flings himself to his left to keep out McGinn's pile-driver.
STAT: Pepe is hoping to become the first Arsenal player to score in four straight away league games since Olivier Giroud between September and November 2015.
Pepe takes Smith Rowe's pass, jinks inside and flashes just wide of the far post from the left of the area.
- Yellow cardThomas ParteyArsenal
Partey booked. Seems a bit harsh.
Ryan dives to his right to tip away Watkins' 25-yard drive. Villa keep the ball alive but Ryan is there to deny Watkins again from the ensuing cross.
Villa work a delightful corner routine. It's played short to a runner off the near post and then fed back towards Barkley on the edge of the box, but he scuffs his effort and Arsenal survive.
Arsenal only managed one shot on target in the first 45. Arteta will be hoping for more from his side in this second period.
- 2nd Half
KICK OFF! Villa get the second half up and running.
- End of 1st Half
HT: Villa 1-0 Arsenal.
Three minutes added.
Pepe rifles wide of the near post after his initial curler from the right side of the box was blocked. There was some super foot work and vision from Holding that set up that opportunity after Villa had dealt with a succession of aerial balls.
Cash does really well to block Cedric's cross after a slick Arsenal move looked set to open Villa up.
- Yellow cardMarvelous NakambaAston Villa
Marvelous Nakamba is eventually booked for a cynical foul on Saka. The referee allowed play to continue, but ensured he pulled out the card once he had the opportunity.
Holding rises highest from the resulting free kick once again, but he can't keep his header down under pressure.
- Yellow cardEzri KonsaAston Villa
Konsa is cautioned after bundling Saka over as he threatened to race free from just inside the Villa half. Arteta felt it was worthy of more than the yellow.
Traore spins brilliantly in the area but sees his clipped effort smartly saved by Ryan. The ball breaks for Barkley who sees his follow-up blocked.
Arsenal come again after Villa clear the resulting corner, but Holding can only guide a header off target.
Xhaka bends a superb 30-yard free kick towards the postage stamp but is thwarted by a fine save from Martinez.
Free kick to Arsenal. It's 30 yards out and slightly right of centre.
Villa are defying some historic February blues at present. They have lost 16 of their past 18 Premier League matches in this month. Their only win came over Norwich in 2016, while they drew the other at Cardiff in 2014.
You can see why Arsenal have scored nine goals in their past four league away matches. They remain a threat, particularly when they look to counter. Lacazette almost sends Saka free, but Martinez reads it well and gallops off his line to deny the Gunners man.
Gabriel nods clear after a neat Villa move from left to right had ended with Cash crossing dangerously towards Watkins.
Not great reading for Gooners. Still plenty of time to try and turn this around this afternoon though.
So many stats doing the rounds about Watkins and Villa. Here's another for Villans to enjoy!
Arsenal have been probing a bit more in recent moments, but Villa have dealt with a couple of tricky set pieces with aplomb.
As it stands, Villa would edge up to eighth ahead of the other Pl games this weekend. Arsenal would stay 10th but could drop into the bottom half if results later in the day/on Sunday go against them.
DID YOU KNOW? Three points today would see Villa equal last season's final total of 35.
Cue talk of the concussion sub which is available today. But it looks like both players will be okay to continue after the physios conclude their respective assessments.
Play has been halted after a clash of heads between Lacazette and Konsa.
Arsenal have yet to get going here. In contrast, Villa have clearly responded to their manager's comments following his disappointment at their attitude in the loss to West Ham.
Not the start Ryan would have been dreaming of either.
STAT: That was Watkins' 12th goal of the season. He also becomes the first Villa player to score in three consecutive Premier League home matches since Darren Bent in 2011.
- GoalOllie WatkinsAston Villa
GOAL! Watkins gets Villa off to a flyer. The forward steers Trarore's cut back from the right into the corner via a deflection.
A BIT OF PREVIOUS: Villa are aiming to claim a first league double (and tally up a third PL victory in a row) over Arsenal since the 1992-93 campaign.
- 1st Half
KICK OFF! Arsenal get us underway.
JACK'S THE LAD: Grealish has been directly involved in 16 league goals in 20 matches this term. He has netted six times and clocked up 10 assists. It's already his highest tally in a single season.
John McGinn following the midweek loss to West Ham: “We’ve got to do more, that goes for all of us. It’s another tough game (v Arsenal), but if we want to achieve things this year then it’s got to be three points.”
The dust has barely settled after the close of the transfer window, but we can already be sure that certain January deals will influence the summer market. Martin Odegaard is on the bench today - but there are rumours he'd be content to stay at Arsenal beyond this season.
Emile Smith-Rowe on superstitions: “I try to be free in my mind. There’s one thing I do, which is wear my socks low. feel like that gives me a lot of freedom, I don’t know why. It’s just a little superstition. I feel like I always have a lot of freedom on the pitch and all the players give me confidence and that makes it even easier for me.”
Dean Smith: "We've had some very high standards this season already and we keep speaking to the players, if we want to be a top team then we have to keep playing to those standards. For me, there were too many six out of 10s on Wednesday night and if you drop to that level then you're going to get beat. We found that out.”
OPINION: A snippet from the Beautiful Game podcast where the chaps discuss whether Ryan's move was good business or not.
Mikel Arteta on Villa: “They’ve been fantastic through the season. They beat some top teams. They’ve been in a really strong run. And they beat us when we played here at home so we have to make sure that we go there and we win the game."
It’s two changes for Arsenal. The most notable sees Mat Ryan make his Gunners bow after joining on loan from Brighton. He replaces the suspended Bernd Leno. Gabriel is the other change as he comes into the defence for David Luiz, who is also serving a ban.
CONFIRMED TEAMS – ASTON VILLA: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Nakamba, Barkley, McGinn, Traore, Watkins, Grealish... Subs: Heaton, Engels, Elmohamady, Ramsey, Luiz, Sanson, El Ghazi, Trezeguet, Davis. /// ARSENAL: Ryan, Bellerin, Gabriel, Holding, Cedric, Partey, Xhaka, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Saka, Lacazette... Subs: Runarsson, Chambers, Mari, Elneny, Ceballos, Odegaard, Willian, Aubameyang, Martinelli
Hello and welcome to LIVE updates of the Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Arsenal. Both sides are looking to bolster their European aspirations by bouncing back from midweek defeats. Kick off 12.30 GMT.