Arsenal secured a vital 1-0 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park this afternoon to tighten our grip on fourth place.
We totally dominated the first half and took a deserved lead in the 30th minute when Bukayo Saka fired home from the edge of the box to make it 1-0.
Arsenal continued to control the game but couldn’t find that killer second goal so had to withstand some late pressure from Villa. Thankfully we held on to seal an important victory that sees us extend our lead over Man Utd to four points.
Here are my ratings:
Bernd Leno: 8/10 Looked a little nervous on the ball in his first league start since August and stayed very close to his line throughout, but put in a solid enough display to remind everyone why he will probably be a number one somewhere else next season.
Cedric: 7/10 Some nice play in the first half and looked good defensively which is not always his strongest suit. A few sloppy moments on the ball in the second period but another solid display from the Portuguese who has impressed in his run in the team.
Ben White: 8/10 Another really solid defensive display from the England man who had to play a little deeper than in recent weeks due to Leno’s conservatism. Didn’t give Watkins a sniff.
Gabriel: 8/10 Excellent throughout and remained switched on as Arsenal came under more pressure in the second half. A crucial intervention to prevent Ollie Watkins from a certain goal at the back post as well.
Kieran Tierney: 7/10 Got forward nicely in the first half and combined well with Emile Smith Rowe. Asked to do more defensive work in the second half and stood up to the task well.
Thomas Partey: 8/10 The Ghanaian is just playing on another level right now. His composure in midfield amid tight pressure is sensational. The only down side is that he’ll have to wait two weeks to play again now for Arsenal due to the international break.
Martin Odegaard: 7/10 Made some good runs where he probably should have been found by teammates to maybe score a goal or two. As it was he was left to play his usual role in the supporting cast and did it well enough.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10 Decent enough on the ball in the game and solid defensively. Managed to force his way into the book with a needless bit of handbags with Emi Buendia, but we can’t really expect the Swiss international to change much at this point.
Bukayo Saka: 8/10 Kicked mercilessly and booed relentlessly throughout but rose above it to put in a fine display. A thorn in Villa’s side down the right on countless occasions, and a goal to cap off a great day.
Alexandre Lacazette: 6/10 The Frenchman is often a little too keen to put his back into defenders and link play rather than taking the shot on himself. This isn’t exactly new, but his lack of threat up top remains probably the difference between Arsenal and the very best.
Emile Smith Rowe: 8/10 Linked play really nicely in the first half to bring the left side of the attack into things. Seems to provide a threat in the box whenever he plays. Faded a bit in the second half but after being kicked non-stop by Matty Cash, you can hardly blame him.
Nicolas Pepe: 6/10 Brought on to give Arsenal more of a foothold on the game, but didn’t really work. Hardly impacted the match at all.
Eddie Nketiah: 6/10 Wilted up against the physical challenge from Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa. Needs to show more desire in these cameo appearances.
Rob Holding: n/a Came on too late to influence the game