Aston Villa – Arsenal recap: Arsenal’s only route to Europe is the FA Cup and Aston Villa controls its Premier League destiny after Trezeguet fired the hosts to a scrappy 1-0 win at Villa Park on Tuesday.
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Villa’s good day makes Watford’s bad day worse. The Hornets’ 4-0 loss to Man City means they are in the bottom three with minus-27 goal differential to Villa’s minus-26. Bournemouth is three points back of both, also holding a minus-27 GD.
Arsenal’s 53 points means the club cannot finish any higher than eighth. Had Arsenal had won, it would’ve had hope of finishing seventh and guaranteeing a place in Europe. Now it’ll come down to the FA Cup Final.
Three things we learned
1. FA Cup only Arsenal path to Europe: Mikel Arteta’s men held out hope that a late hot run could propel them into the top seven and a place in the Europa League. A win over Liverpool stoked the fire, but Tuesday put it clear out (despite plenty of the ball at Villa Park). Arsenal maxes out at 56 points and can only make the Europa League by beating Chelsea in the FA Cup Final on Aug. 1. What a massive moment that will be for Mikel Arteta as he hopes to recruit reinforcements and convince Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stick around the Emirates Stadium.
2. Trezeguet only scores big goals: The Egyptian belted a sweet low drive home off a first-half corner kick to give Villa a lead. Trezeguet scored twice in a win over Crystal Palace on July 12 to snap a 10-match league winless run. He also authored the winner against Leicester City in the League Cup semifinal that sent the Villans to Wembley. Not a bad season of moments.
3. Villa comes together in a big way: Dean Smith didn’t celebrate Villa’s goal, much like he remained calm when the Villans went ahead against Everton. His calm demeanor matched the resolute nature of his team once it went ahead. No, it failed to find the insurance goal that would’ve made the night a bit easier to control but the Villans barely wavered despite giving almost 70 percent of the ball. Tyrone Mings wasn’t perfect but he combined with center back partner Ezri Konsa to make 13 clearances and block three shots while holding Arsenal without a shot on target.
Man of the Match
There’s no picking against Trezeguet, who might have the same stature in Birmingham as his namesake does in France.
Aston Villa – Arsenal recap
The most notable early incident saw an injury force Frederic Guibert into the mix in place of Ahmed Elmohamady.
Villa got another massive goal from Trezeguet, the Egyptian at the back to collect a flicked corner kick and smash a screened low shot past Emiliano Martinez on the near post side.
Eddie Nketiah was among the lively Gunners, though Douglas Luiz had another strong performance in handling Arsenal’s attackers over the first 45 minutes.
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Jack Grealish was lively and came close to a rocket goal. He also could’ve had an assist with a brilliant run to send young Keinan Davis into the box. Davis beat Martinez but could not slide his left-footed shot inside the far post.
Hearts were in Villan throats in the 77th when Nicolas Pepe headed a corner kick off the far post but Pepe Reina pulled the bouncing ball off the goal line.
Grealish then found McGinn outside the 18 for a well-hit shot that Martinez parried and Arsenal cleared.