Arsenal keep title bid on track with two late goals to clinch victory at Aston Villa
The former Arsenal goalkeeper and World Cup winner could do nothing as Jorginho's fine strike cannoned off the crossbar and against the back of his head to settle a thrilling contest 4-2 in favour of the Gunners. Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho had the home side ahead on two occasions, only for fine strikes from Bukayo Saka and Oleksandr Zinchenko to level for Arsenal. Their winless run looked set to be extended to four Premier League games before Martinez inadvertently helped out his old side and substitute Gabriel Martinelli tapped into an empty net after the Villa stopper went up for a late corner. With defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday night knocking them off the summit on goal difference and falling behind twice here, the response from Mikel Arteta's side was impressive. On the eve of the contest, Arteta had bemoaned the fact his side were being forced to play just 63 hours after the final whistle blew in their defeat to their title rivals. They certainly started like a team not fully prepared for another crunch game as Watkins put the hosts ahead on six minutes, finishing with aplomb from Matty Cash's long ball after the Poland full-back had robbed Zinchenko of the ball. As in their 3-1 loss to City, Arsenal's initial response to falling behind was a good one and - again mirroring Wednesday night - they drew level through Saka. Ben White's cross was not dealt with by the recalled Tyrone Mings, who headed the back straight onto the foot of Saka, the England man thrashing an effort past Martinez for his 10th goal of the season. The visitors then enjoyed a spell of dominance without ever coming close to taking the lead and, with half an hour on the clock, they fell behind for a second time. Questionable defending from White allowed Alex Moreno to slide a pass across the box, Emiliano Buendia dummying for Coutinho to finish for his first goal since the final day of last season. Arsenal were in a hurry after the break, although Saka was struggling having taken a few kicks throughout the first-half and he required some lengthy treatment. Nketiah hit the top of the crossbar with a header as the Gunners began to create more chances and the Villa defence started to creak. Saka had stayed on and played his part in Arsenal's second equaliser, working a short corner with Martin Odegaard which set up Zinchenko to arrow home his first Premier League goal just after the hour. Villa had been caught trying to play out from the back on a number of occasions and were almost made to pay as Nketiah robbed Ezri Konsa of the ball inside his own box, squaring for Odegaard who could only drag a shot wide of the target when he should have scored. Villa still had a chance to take all three points for themselves and substitute Leon Bailey was causing problems with his pace, controlling a long ball and bursting through on goal only to see Aaron Ramsdale turn his strike against the crossbar. As the game entered injury time, another lung-busting run from a Villa substitute forced Ramsdale into action once more, this time saving well from Jhon Duran. Those saves from Ramsdale would prove vital for Arsenal, who took the lead for the first time with half of the six added minutes gone. Jorginho, a January signing from Chelsea, came within inches of his first Arsenal goal as his long-range strike rattled the crossbar before bouncing off the head of the unfortunate Martinez and into the net. With Villa pushing on for an equaliser of their own, Martinez went up for a last-gasp corner but it was cleared and substitutes Fabio Vieira and Martinelli combined to put the result beyond doubt.
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