Twitter reacts as Arsenal snatch late victory over Aston Villa

  • February 18, 2023

Not for the first time in his career, Emi Martinez proved the difference in an Arsenal victory. Unfortunately for the current Aston Villa goalkeeper, it was unintentional.

Two minutes into second-half stoppage time, Jorginho let rip from the edge of the box, clattering the crossbar with Arsenal’s Premier League game at Villa Park locked at 2-2. The ball thudded off the woodwork and onto Martinez’s head, cruelly rolling over the line to nudge Arsenal into the lead.

Gabriel Martinelli provided the final flourish to a scintillating showdown in the 98th minute, sealing three points as Arsenal responded to their midweek defeat against Manchester City with a 4-2 victory which returned the Gunners to the Premier League summit.

Mikel Arteta’s side fell behind within the opening five minutes of the contest. Matty Cash robbed Oleksandr Zinchenko and quickly set Ollie Watkins haring towards goal. Enjoying the best form of his senior career, Villa’s talisman found the net for a fourth consecutive league game.

Bukayo Saka levelled with a ripsnorting effort after 15 minutes but Philippe Coutinho had Villa back in front going into the interval. On his first Premier League start since Unai Emery – the former Arsenal manager – took charge of Villa, Coutinho crisply finished off a slick passing sequence which began with the ball in Martinez’s gloves.

For large swathes of the contest, especially the opening 45 minutes, Villa struck a brilliant balance to stifle Arsenal, clogging up the middle of the pitch and doubling up on the visiting wingers. By the end of a breathless ding-dong, Villa’s promising moments didn’t evade every onlooker.

Zinchenko, making up for his first-half error, whizzed his first-ever Premier League goal into the bottom corner from a well-worked set-piece after the hour-mark.

Arsenal’s decisive third goal may have arrived in fortuitous circumstances but Martin Odegaard was presented with a glaring sight of Martinez’s net which required little luck to convert. Eddie Nketiah picked Ezri Konsa’s pocket and teed up Arsenal’s skipper who dragged his effort horribly wide.

Moments later, Leon Bailey tiptoed down the right wing and had a stinging shot tipped onto the woodwork thanks to Aaron Ramsdale’s razor-sharp reactions.

Jorginho forced Arsenal ahead at the death, dramatically helping Arsenal avoid a fifth consecutive match without a win and dent their title tilt further.

If the mood was joyous in Arsenal’s technical area, it was somewhat spikier in other sections of Villa Park, with reports of the analysts from each club clashing.

Martinelli came off the bench to nab his first goal of 2023, echoing Ross Barkley by celebrating before walking the ball into an empty net to conclude one of the most thrilling – and potentially important – games of the Premier League season.

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