Arsenal helped by own goal by goalkeeper Martínez and sloppy Manchester City
Fortune is finally smiling on Arsenal again. Thanks in part to an own goal by goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez, international of Argentina, the Londoners won 4-2 at Aston Villa in injury time.
It is Arsenal’s first win in February. With two defeats and one draw, ‘The Gunners’ had put the lead in the Premier League at stake. Late last month, Arsenal was still well on its way to its first league title since 2004. But after February’s poor start, everything is different for manager Mikel Arteta’s team.
The narrow victory in Birmingham therefore comes as no surprise. Especially since Manchester City played carelessly and gave away a lead a few minutes before time at Nottingham Forest (1-1). As a result, the difference between Arsenal and City is two points and Arsenal has played one match less.
But the afternoon did not go naturally for Arsenal either. Against Aston Villa, it had more ball possession, but the home team, of former Arsenal manager Unai Emery, was a lot more threatening in the first half. Early on, striker Ollie Watkins fired in the 1-0.
First goal Coutinho
And although Bukayo Saka quickly shot the 1-1 behind goalkeeper Martinez, Aston Villa went into halftime with a lead after the first goal of the season by Philippe Coutinho, for whom Barcelona paid 120 million euros five years ago.
After halftime, there was more vigor in Arsenal’s play. Striker Eddie Nketiah hit the top of the crossbar with a header. And moments later, Oleksandr Zinchenko did shoot in the 2-2 after a corner kick taken short.
Arsenal wanted more, hunted for the win, had to take the lead after a Martin Ødegaard chance in front of goal, but failed. Aston Villa even had a chance for 3-2, but Leon Bailey hit the crossbar on a counter.
Martínez own goal
In the third minute of injury time, it still went 2-3. Jorginho shot from distance at the crossbar and via the head of Argentina’s World Cup goalkeeper Martínez, who stood out in Qatar both with impressive saves and strange behavior, the ball bounced into the goal.
In the eighth minute of injury time, Martínez headed forward on a corner kick in hopes of forcing the equalizer. But Arsenal was able to score on the counter through Gabriel Martinelli into the empty goal: 2-4.
The win felt even more pleasant for The Gunners when Manchester City had given away an almost certain win later in the afternoon on a visit to Nottingham Forest. Just before time, it was 1-1.
City had quite a lot to say about the refereeing afterwards, because of what they thought was a penalty kick that was not given, but Pep Guardiola will mostly blame his own players for losing points.
United is coming
City had taken the lead through a nice, hard shot by Bernardo Silva, from about eighteen yards. But otherwise City were sloppy with chances throughout the match. They should have long since been ahead by a zero or three, through Foden or Haaland, when substitute Chris Wood ran in the 1-1 in front of an open goal just before time.
The draw leaves the gap with Arsenal two points and City has played one more game. Manchester City must also slowly start looking down at the bottom, as Manchester United’s win over Leicester City on Sunday will bring the city rival to within three points.
English soccer night closes with the game between Newcastle United and Liverpool, with Cody Gakpo and Virgil van Dijk starting in the starting lineup.