Remember how many joked that Arsenal was just gonna have to go outscore everyone due to their firepower up top and not much at the back?
They did it again Sunday, coming back from a goal down and a man down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium.
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Calum Chambers, and Nicolas Pepe scored to help overcome Ainsley Maitland-Niles‘ pair of early yellow cards as Arsenal moved fourth with 11 points.
John McGinn and Wesley Morales provided Aston Villa 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the game. Villa remains 18th with four points.
Three things we learned
1. David Luiz might be a Chelsea secret agent: The ex-Chelsea man was again heavy in blame in the concession of an Arsenal goal, as his sleepy, tepid attempt to stop Jack Grealish‘s cut back to Wesley ended with the latter smashing the ball into the goal moments after the Gunners had equalized from the spot. The veteran defender has been almost automatic for a big error per game.
Also, don’t just hate on Luiz. Look at this defending on the first Arsenal goal.
2. Aubameyang in the rarest of airs: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has played for two attack-forward teams, and drawn so many, “Yeah, buts” from critics, but the Gabonese wonder has been absolutely sensational. He has seven goals in seven matches this season across all competitions, and where would the Gunners be without him?
3. Gunners step up late: Down a man and 72 hours after playing in Germany, the Gunners had to find a hero. They found two, one likely and the other not so much. Chambers found a wonderful Guendouzi pass and outworked two Villa defenders to level the score at 2, and Aubameyang slashed a free kick home in the 84th.
Man of the Match: It was probably Pepe, who got his first Arsenal goal to go with an industrious day down the right. His vision is exceptional, perhaps outdone only by his freakishly athletic skill set. But you’re forgiven if you plug Aubameyang’s name in this space. And McGinn was terrific in defeat, but flubbed a chance to make it 3-3.
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Ainsley Maitland-Niles could’ve had Arsenal ahead in the first minute, but he sent Saka’s cross high into the stands despite his station unmarked near the spot.
John McGinn forced Bernd Leno into the first save of the match two minutes later at the other end. The same keeper would stop the same shooter in the 11th minute.
Aubameyang couldn’t get purchase on a headed pass from Sead Kolasinac in the 16th minute after a Nicolas Pepe cross.
McGinn’s third bite at the apple was wide open and successful, as Anwar El Ghazi‘s cross spotted his run at the penalty spot and Leno had little hope of interfering with the opportunity. 1-0, 20’.
Maitland-Niles then slid into a challenge and caught a stamp during his foul. A second yellow was awarded and Arsenal was down a goal and a man.
Villa couldn’t find a second goal despite numerous chances, and Matteo Guendouzi won a straight-forward penalty off barging defender Bjorn Engels. Pepe converted the goal.
But Villa restored its lead within a minute, Jack Grealish blazing down the left side to cut back to the middle, where Wesley darted in front of sleepy David Luiz to finish the chance.
Chambers was the next to finish off a terrific pass from Guendouzi and even better work from the fullback. And Aubameyang’s free kick… holy smoke (embedded atop the page).