Aston Villa’s impressive recent record against Arsenal came to an end as they were beaten 3-1 by a ruthless Gunners team on Friday.
Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Emile Smith-Rowe all found the net for Mikel Arteta’s side before substitute Jacob Ramsey scored a late consolation.
Villa found themselves 2-0 down before half-time in an opening 45 in which they failed to register a single shot on Aaron Ramsdale’s goal.
Partey punished some poor defending to head home from a corner before Matt Targett brought Alexandre Lacazette down in the final minute of the first-half to concede a penalty.
Martinez, who was superb as always, saved Aubameyang’s spot kick but the striker tapped home the rebound.
Villa were better in the second-half but it wasn’t enough.
Summer transfer target Smith-Rowe finished off a lovely Arsenal breakaway following a misplaced pass from John McGinn and all but killed the game.
Ramsey scored an excellent goal in the final 10 minutes to give the travelling Villans something to cheer but it was all too little too late.
The young Villa midfielder was my man-of-the-match despite only playing just over 20 minutes.
He gave Dean Smith’s side so much more energy in the middle of the park and scored a fantastic goal to cap off a great cameo.
His performance makes you beg the question why he hasn’t been starting the last few weeks. I think this will be the last time we see him start on the bench for some time.
Not often a goalkeeper gets labelled a hero when he’s conceded three goals but he was once again fantastic and kept the scoreline down at what it was.
In the first half especially he pulled off numerous top saves.
His mind games worked once more for Aubameyang’s penalty and he was highly unfortunate that the striker was able to tuck home the rebound.
The Villa manager could have been labelled a hero had he changed things earlier on but he didn’t.
By the time he had switched formation at half-time it was too late. The team were far better after the break and the system suited them down to the ground.
It’s just a shame it took so long for that said change to happen.
Targett has faced a lot of criticism recently and whilst his all round performance today wasn’t terrible, he gave away the penalty at a critical time.
Villa would have been laughing had they gone into the break only one goal down because it was far more than they deserved but once the left-back had stuck his leg out, he gave the referee a decision to make.
Whether you’re of the opinion that it was a penalty or not, it was sloppy and ultimately, costly.
Hero for Arsenal. Villain for Villa.
The young midfielder was well known to be on Dean Smith’s radar pre-season but he turned down a move to the midlands to sign a new deal with the Gunners.
He showed exactly why he was high on Smith’s list with a goal and a man-of-the-match performance on the night.
And let’s get it right, he was always going to score - wasn’t he?
3-4-1-2: Martinez 7; Konsa 6, Tuanzebe 5 ( 45’ Bailey 7), Mings 6, McGinn 5, Targett 4, Luiz 6, Ings 5 (77’ El Ghazi N/A), Buendia 5 ( 68’ Ramsey 7*), Watkins 5