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Vintage Villa derail Arsenal

Written By: Robert Halter

Arsenal opened their account for the 2013/14 season mid August against Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium. It took six minutes for the Gunners to get up and running with a well delivered cross by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from the left wing and a deft finish by Olivier Giroud as he tucked the ball past Brad Guzan into the Villa goal. After picking up an injury while appended by Theo Walcott, Villa were forced to take off Nathan Baker for Ciaran Clark. But Villa were awarded a penalty on twenty two minutes, after Wojciech Szczesny pulled down Gabriel Agbonlahor in the area and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot. Although Szczesny saved the kick from Christian Benteke’s strike, Szczesny was helpless to deny Benteke heading in the rebound to level the score. Matters got worse for the Gunners as following a head clash with Andreas Weimann, it resulted in Kieran Gibbs being replaced by Carl Jenkinson. On thirty seven minutes, a failed clearance by Szczesny was played across by Benteke to Ashley Westwood and while tracking back, Szczesny produced a flying save to stop Westwood’s dipping shot from long range. After coming out on the wrong end of a tackle from Antonio Luna before the break, Oxlade-Chamberlain was replaced by Santi Cazorla at half time. After Tomas Rosicky had blazed over from close range, eight minutes into the re-start, the Gunners had a lucky escape as Fabian Delph with a crisp low strike was denied a goal by the foot of the bottom right hand post, as goal line technology was used for the first time to show that the ball had not crossed the line. But on sixty two minutes, Villa got their noses in front as Agbonlahor was again pulled down in the area, this time by Laurent Koscielny and at the first time of asking, Benteke drilled the spot kick into the heart of the net. Having been booked for the foul on Agbonlahor, referee Taylor sent Koscielny off after he was card again for a rash challenge on Benteke inside the centre circle. On seventy two minutes after exchanging passes with Giroud, a mazy run by Rosicky ended when Guzan stood in the way. Guzan in spectacular fashion six minutes later, turned Cazorla’s close range strike against the bar, after Rosicky had headed the ball through. Benteke could have sealed the Gunners fate with nine minutes of normal time remaining but while in front of the target, brushed his shot across the face of the goal. But Villa put the game out of Arsenal’s reach on eighty five minutes, when Weimann’s pass through the middle of the park found Luna unmarked and he charged through and made no mistake by drilling his shot past a stranded Szczesny into the right side of the netting. A jubilant Villa manager Paul Lambert then replaced Weimann for Leandro Bacuna, on a day to forget for the Gunners which ended miserably after Bacary Sagna fell uncomfortably as he back flipped while challenging Benteke which gave Lukas Podolski the briefest of starts.