Match Report: Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa: Martinelli keeps up Gunners’ winning start

Gabriel Martinelli celebrates his winner

Douglas Luiz’s goal direct from a corner – the Brazil international’s second such strike this term – had cancelled out compatriot Gabriel Jesus’ first-half opener at Emirates Stadium.

Emiliano Martinez was at fault for Jesus’ goal and despite a number of fine saves, attracted the blame again for Martinelli’s strike three minutes after Villa’s equaliser.

Playing against his former club, Martinez flapped at Martinelli’s volley as Arsenal ensured they won five in a row to start a top-flight campaign for only the fourth time in the club’s history.

Martinez was on hand to deny Jesus inside ten minutes before a Martin Odegaard effort was blocked by Tyrone Mings.

A deserved Arsenal opener came in the 30th minute – Granit Xhaka’s driven cross deflecting off Ezri Konsa and, with Martinez only able to fumble the ball into the path of Jesus, who smashed home.

Villa came out with more purpose in the second half and found the equaliser in remarkable fashion, substitute Douglas Luiz scoring direct from a corner with only his second touch as Aaron Ramsdale’s appeals for a foul fell on deaf ears.

But Arsenal’s response was swift, Bukayo Saka’s right-wing cross finding Martinelli, whose volley had too much power for the scrambling Martinez, inflicting Steven Gerrard’s side to a fourth defeat from their five league matches, with Villa fortunate that Arsenal passed up a pair of late chances to further their lead.

What does it mean?

Arsenal once again showed grit to grind out the result, rising when sides of previous years would have sunk to maintain the winning streak and increase the positivity in north London.

The Gunners did not let their frustrations spike in the first half against Villa’s aggressive style of play, keeping calm and remaining patient to carve out opportunities throughout, finishing with a whopping 22 attempts at goal, with nine of those hitting the target.

Mikel Arteta’s next challenge will be keeping opponents at bay to secure clean sheets, having failed to do so in each of their last eight Premier League matches at home.

Jesus breaks Ozil record

Jesus’ arrival at Arsenal has played a huge part in the perfect start to the season and his goal against Villa took his total to three goals and three assists in the opening five matches of the campaign.

That breaks a club record for the most goal involvements in his first five Premier League appearances, surpassing the tally of five that Mesut Ozil had upon his arrival from Real Madrid in 2013.

Martinez’s misdemeanours

Against his former club, Martinez will have certainly envisaged a better display. First fumbling Xhaka’s deflected cross right to Jesus, then he was caught out by Martinelli’s winner.

Martinez was able to keep the scoreline respectable with fine saves to deny Odegaard’s free-kick and a volley from Martinelli, though those moments will be forgotten given his mistakes.

Key Opta Facts

– Arsenal have won their opening five league matches in a season for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign, going to finish second that season.
– Villa have lost four of their opening five league matches in a campaign for the first time since the 1997-98 season (also 4/5).
– There were just 151 seconds between Villa equalising and Arsenal retaking the lead.
– Bukayo Saka registered his 17th Premier League assist for Arsenal – in Premier League history, only Cesc Fabregas (38), Wayne Rooney (22) and Michael Owen (18) have more assists before turning 21.
– Arsenal are one of only two sides yet to concede in the first half of Premier League games this season, along with Brighton and Hove Albion, and have faced a league-low 10 shots and three shots on target in the first halves of games.

What’s next?

Arsenal face their biggest test of the season so far against Manchester United on Sunday, while matters only get tougher for Gerrard, whose team take on Manchester City a day earlier.

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