Aston Villa player ratings gallery vs Arsenal: One scores 4/10 in 4-2 loss but three earn 8s

Aston Villa player ratings as Unai Emery’s side fell apart at Villa Park, losing to Arsenal by four goals to two in the Premier League.

Aston Villa collapsed late on as Arsenal managed a tremendous 4-2 comeback victory at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon. The hosts played very well to go ahead twice and appeared to have improved with Unai Emery’s demanding philosophy of playing out from the back, but the Gunners were ruthless in the closing moments to take home a vital three points in the Premier League title race. Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho got on the scoresheet with some fantastic goals but it wasn’t enough as Villa fell to yet another defeat on home soil – with their own errors exploited once again.

It was a lively start for Emery’s team, who looked the more energetic side and earned an early lead; the chance created by Matty Cash as he dispossessed Oleksandr Zinchenko in the 5th minute. The Polish international progressed up the field and played a well-weighted through ball over the top to Watkins, who took the ball in his stride brilliantly. The Englishman beat Ben White and William Saliba with a stepover before firing it hard and low beyond Aaron Ramsdale for his fourth goal in as many games. Watkins nearly made it two a few minutes later with a boost of energy, pressing Ramsdale hard as he smelt early nerves. The England international goalkeeper was so nearly caught out on his goalline as Watkins came zipping in to intercept. Had Ramsdale’s clearance been a few inches lower, the attacker could well have doubled Villa’s lead.

That moment seemed to wake the visitors up somewhat as Mikel Arteta barked some fierce instructions to his players from the touchline. Just beyond the 10-minute mark, Tyrone Mings was forced into a vital goalline clearance to deny Eddie Nketiah, who was rushing onto a dinked effort from Ben White. The flag went up in the end, but Mings wouldn’t have known. From some last-ditch heroics to a disaster just 90 seconds or so on; the electric early tempo refused to let off as yet another dangerous ball come in from White on the right. This time, perhaps still feeling the adrenaline of a few phases of play earlier, Mings made an awful attempt at clearing away, heading it directly into the path of Bukayo Saka. Striking sweetly on the half-volley, Arsenal’s number seven guided a powerful effort just underneath the crossbar to make it 1-1.

The hosts reacted well to Arsenal’s equaliser, not letting it bring them down as they went netted another goal of their own in the 32nd minute, sending Villa Park into a frenzy. Boubacar Kamara dribbled well through midfield before playing a through ball to Alex Moreno down the left. The winter signing looked up and fired a low cross into the penalty area; Emiliano Buendia dummying brilliantly to allow Philippe Coutinho to receive the ball. The Brazilian opened up his body before slotting a well-disguised shot into the bottom left-hand corner, completely wrong-footing Ramsdale to make it 2-1. Tensions flared just before the interval as both sets of players pushed and shoved after two Villa fouls in quick succession. Referee Simon Hooper quickly broke things up, though, booking Saka and Douglas Luiz for their troubles.

Arsenal were by far the more threatening team in the opening stages of the second period and they were agonisingly close to equalising as Nketiah hit the woodwork in the 55th minute. Rising higher than Ezri Konsa, the Gunners’ forward lofted a header over Martinez but it didn’t quite come down quick enough as it clipped the top of the crossbar. It didn’t take long for Mikel Arteta’s side to carve out another opportunity, though, as Zinchenko struck hard and low to beat Martinez at his near post. Saka’s short corner to Martin Odegaard was cut back to the edge of the area, where the former Manchester City man was waiting to drill it home for 2-2.

As the clock approached the 80th minute, Odegaard had a chance of his own to hand the Gunners a late lead but the Norwegian fluffed his lines. Konsa, who had played well up until that point, was far too easily beaten by Nketiah to a backward pass as the Arsenal striker claimed the ball and fed it to Odegaard. The pressure was perhaps too much as he scuffed it just wide of the post – a huge opportunity squandered. The Villans turned to the bench to bring on some fresh legs, notably seeing Leon Bailey, Jhon Duran and Leander Dendoncker enter the field. Bailey was impactful down the right almost immediately as he went on a charge down the right flank. Dribbling beyond Zinchenko, the Jamaican got a powerful shot away but it was saved superbly onto the crossbar by Ramsdale.

As were the incredible efforts of Emery’s side, it came as no surprise that their energy levels would drop off eventually but it all happened in one go as Arsenal pushed on to remarkably score twice in injury time. Villa were defending desperately but it wasn’t enough as an unfortunate moment for Martinez saw a vicious long-range effort from Jorginho thunder off the crossbar and off his head to go into his own net. The away supporters had already been sent into raptures as it appeared they would take home an important three points but things got even better for the Gunners as Martinez went forward for a Villa corner in the final 60 seconds. The hosts’ delivery cleared easily by William Saliba, Arsenal went on a devastating counter attack and substitute Gabriel Martinelli was able to pass the ball into an open net to make it 4-2 – capping off an unbelievable game. So, so disappointing for Villa after such a great performance up until injury time. Here are our player ratings. See below.

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