Tuesday, January 14, 2014


All smiles: Olivier Giroud and his Arsenal team-mates celebrate after he scored the second
Arsenal are showing no sign of  surrender just yet as two quick goals in less than sixty seconds from Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud as against Aston Villa, Benteke's goal, sent them back to top of the English Premier League log.

This was a gutsy win in the circumstances, Arsenal in complete control for an hour, only to be shocked by Christian Benteke’s first goal since September 14 against Newcastle United.

At that point it would have been easy for Arsene Wenger’s team, caught cold, to give up two points. Instead, they regrouped and held firm, even when the stadium announcer elicited one of the biggest cheers of the night by revealing there would be six minutes of additional time.

The damage was done in two first-half minutes when Arsenal scored twice, the second affording a cushion that did little for the entertainment value.

Mesut Ozil, has been quieter of late after his buzzy start, however his pass for Monreal on the left was a thing of beauty and caught Villa hopelessly flat. 
Making his mark: The midfielder swept home from the edge of the box

Monreal crossed, man of the match Jack Wilshere met the ball on the edge of the area and his left-foot shot gave Brad Guzan no chance. 
Finding the net: Wilshere scored his fifth goal of the season and his third in the Premier League

Wilshere was the architect this time, his deft chip picking out Olivier Giroud, who intelligently found the space between two Villa defenders and finished left-footed with a certainty that brooked no argument. 
Quick-fire: The Frenchman powered his strike home less than 60 seconds after Wilshere's opener

It made up for an earlier miss when a cross from Bacary Sagna after five minutes was headed wide by Giroud from close range.

The goals followed a freak injury. Mild concussion was the official verdict, but it was not so much Nathan Baker who saw stars, as the entire Aston Villa defence.
Horrific blow: Aston Villa's Nathan Baker turns his head in the wall as Serge Gnabry's free-kick hits his head

Baker was the unfortunate who took a ferocious shot from Serge Gnabry full in the face after 14 minutes and was taken from the field, head immobilised, wearing an oxygen mask.
Get well soon: He was carried from the field in a stretcher as the whole crowd applauded

The team-mates he left behind took the force of the next blow, however, with two goals that stunned the locals into silence and left Villa with too steep a climb to the summit. It is rare that a player is invalided from a game by the ball and Arsenal’s initial reaction when Baker was struck and collapsed was to play on.
Yes, it was a nerve-racking finale for the travelling fans and their relief when referee Neil Swarbrick brought the game to a close was plain but to go from operating at little more than walking pace to dealing with Benteke with his dander up is no simple task and, without doubt, there is a steel around this Arsenal team that hasn’t been present through many recent season. 
It was a game that pundits described as strange as Arsenal took Villa out in a matter of seconds, really, and after that seemed to play as if already dozing at the back of a nice warm team bus on its way down the M1.

It was this composure that helped set up an unlikely grandstand finish, when Aston Villa rose from their stupor to score with 14 minutes left.

Belgian star, Benteke, so disappointing for much of the game, then came to life and suddenly the tumbleweed that had been blowing across Villa Park was replaced by throaty roars of encouragement.  

Well taken: Christian Benteke dives in at the far post for Aston Villa's goal
Santi Cazorla lost the ball and let in Matthew Lowton, whose cross was missed by Arsenal’s central defenders, but not by Benteke, steaming in at the far post to  convert a diving header from five yards. 

That he has taken so long to return to the scoresheet since  coming back from injury, however, is a symptom of Villa’s malaise.

First goal for 14 hours: Benteke points to the heavens after getting on the scoresheet
Last season, so much of what was good about this team came from Benteke, but he has looked lost for much of this campaign. 

He did not touch the ball inside the Arsenal penalty area once in the first half and was handled perfectly for much of the game by Mertesacker, save for an acrobatic effort shortly before his goal.

This is a very different Arsenal from the team Villa defeated on the opening day of the season.

Source: DailyMail

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