Aston Villa player ratings vs Arsenal: 'Incredible' 9/10 haunts Gunners and four 'superb' 8s

Aston Villa player ratings from the Premier League away fixture against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.

An apprehensive and expectant Emirates Stadium watched on as Unai Emery returned to haunt his former side, Aston Villa stunning Arsenal with a shock 2-0 victory on Sunday afternoon. The Villans, helped by a remarkably solid former Gunner in Emiliano Martinez, weathered a first-half storm to go into the break goalless. The visitors were then the better side in the second period, scoring two clinical goals to earn a vital three points in the UEFA Champions League race.

Super substitute Leon Bailey broke the deadlock in the 84th minute after a spell of prolonged possession for Emery’s men. The Jamaican was in the right place at the right time to convert from a Lucas Digne cross, slotting home from a tight angle at the far post. Pau Torres slid excellently to get across William Saliba and David Raya on the near side, allowing the ball through to reach Bailey for a vital goal.

It was then top scorer Ollie Watkins - spurred on by a woodwork hit in the first 45 - who doubled Villa’s lead with an excellent dinked finish over a helpless Raya. The striker, beginning in his own half, sprinted onto a Youri Tielemans through ball and made no mistake as he found the far corner.

Arsenal, as expected, started brightly with three decent opportunities within the opening 20 minutes but ruefully failed to go ahead. Leandro Trossard threaded a clever ball to Kai Havertz in behind and the German struck sweetly toward the near post but Martinez did well to turn the ball away from danger. The Gunners then worked the ball effectively to Saka and the winger’s deep cross was so nearly converted; Gabriel Jesus met it with his head but only found the side netting. Saka had a better chance of his own, also thrashing the side netting from a tight angle to hand Villa another scare.

There were around 15 minutes of calm midway through the first period but suddenly a flurry of chances, both sides in disbelief that the net hadn’t bulged. Watkins had a glorious opportunity for the visitors in the 39th minute as he sprinted through after an Arsenal defensive mix-up and had just Raya to beat. The England international fired confidently but the ball rebounded off the left post to deny a shock Villa opener.

It was then the Gunners’ turn to go near. Captain Martin Odegaard’s long-range effort deflected off Pau, the ball fell to Jesus and squared to Trossard – but Martinez pulled off an incredible reaction stop with his legs to deny the Belgian from point-blank range. Saka prompted a chorus of groans around the Emirates a few phases of play later, missing by merely inches with a driven shot toward the far corner.

The second half started relatively slowly but Youri Tielemans lifted the atmosphere with a stunning attempt, denied by the underside of the crossbar. The Belgian dispossessed Oleksandr Zinchenko, cut inside and whipped a beauty toward the far top corner but the ball bounced down, clipping the post on the way out. Jesus then had a half-chance for Arsenal at the other end, stinging the gloves of Martinez from around 20 yards.

Villa, earlier bound to their own half for long periods, began to express themselves a little more as the clock ticked beyond 70. A few corners in quick succession upped the ante and the Emirates turned nervy with Emery’s side enjoying prolonged possession. The pressure then paid off as Bailey and Watkins scored their quickfire double salvo to send the travelling support into a frenzy.

Here are our Villa player ratings as Emery’s side soar three points clear of Tottenham Hotspur in the top-four battle.

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