Both teams went into the match hoping to keep their unbeaten start to the Premier League alive, but five minutes of madness in the first half saw Arsenal run out comfortable 3-0 winners in a match where they were rarely tested.
Aston Villa came into the match on the back of a very impressive victory at Anfield, while Arsenal were under pressure after giving away a late draw against Manchester City the previous weekend and suffering a defeat in their Champions League opener at Dortmund. Wilshere and Sanchez, the goalscorers from the Gunners’ draw against City, were replaced by Cazorla and Chamberlain in the starting lineup and Callum Chambers replaced Bellerin at right back.
The match started off rather uneasily for Arsenal as Wojciech Szczesny’s poor clearance fell to Fabian Delph who exchanged passes with Weimann before unleashing a powerful effort which the Polish keeper had to push clear of the bar. The first half was a very open affair, with a lot of end to end action. Aston Villa tried to get in behind Arsenal’s defence, hoping to use their pace like Dortmund did on Tuesday, but Koscielny and Mertesacker dealt with the threat with great efficiency.
Mertesacker’s late start to the season and then Koscielny’s injury forced Arsene Wenger to shuffle his centre backs a few times in the opening matches of the season, but tonight the two of them looked a lot more like the solid partnership from last year than the confused duo they looked like against BVB.
Aston Villa almost took the lead when Tom Cleverley’s freekick found Ciaran Clark, but his downward header was saved brilliantly by the Arsenal keeper. Arsenal’s first chance came when a corner of their own fell to Ramsey on the edge of the box, but he flashed his effort wide. As Aston Villa started to press higher and attack more, Arsenal got more into the game, exploiting the spaces left behind. A good move saw Ozil pick out a brilliant pass for Ramsey, but his first time pass for Danny Welbeck wasn’t a very good one and the attack ended.
But it was a similar counter-attack that lead to Arsenal’s opener. Welbeck received the ball in the middle of the park and made an incisive pass for Mesut Ozil, and the German made no mistake, slotting home coolly past Brad Guzan. The German had been under pressure for his substandard performances in Arsenal’s initial games, being forced to play out wide. But having started in his favoured number 10 role, he looked energetic and eager right from the start and was enjoying a good start to the game and when the chance fell for him, he took it brilliantly.
Two minutes later, the goalscorer and provider switched roles. Ramsey sprung a pass for Ozil on yet another counter attack and Ozil played in a wonderful cross from the left hand side, which fell perfectly for the onrushing Danny Welbeck, who fired home to mark his first goal for his new club.
But that wasn’t enough. Before Villa had a chance to breathe and reorganize, Kiern Gibbs found some space and fired in a low cross from the left, which was turned in by the outstretched leg of Aly Sissokho. Aston Villa were in shambles and were happy to hold on till half time.
The second half was rather uneventful. Arsenal controlled the game for the most part, and apart from a few surges in the search for a way back, Aston Villa did little to change the outcome of the match. Arsenal, however, almost gave them a chance to try and find a way back. Callum Chambers, already on a yellow, found himself making more than one rash challenge, and could have seen an early bath on another day. But Arsenal held on to record their second win in the league and will now focus their attention on their upcoming Capital One Cup match against Southampton and then the North London Derby that follows.