Arsenal suffer ominous title race blow in devastating game of two halves

Arsenal suffer ominous title race blow in devastating game of two halves

This was a game of two halves and one that, ultimately, could prove costly for Arsenal in the title race.

After Liverpool lost to Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday, it was perfectly set up for the Gunners to win against Aston Villa and regain top spot in the Premier League.

In the end, though, they were stunned by two late goals and now it is Manchester City who lead the way by two point with just six games to go.

Given Pep Guardiola’s side previous track record, it feels like an ominous position for them to be in. History tells us what happens next.

Arsenal will be frustrated as in the first half they created enough chances to go ahead. Martin Odegaard, in particular, was in brilliant form and he pulled the Villa defence apart.

Twice the Gunners hit the side-netting through Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus, while Emi Martinez somehow kept out Leandro Trossard’s effort when the goal was gaping. In total, Mikel Arteta’s side had 14 shots on goal by the half-time break - but they had nothing to show for it and momentum swung Villa’s way.

The visitors came out bolder, playing out from the break and tightened up defensively.

Arsenal were struggling to create and, bar a Jesus effort that was saved by Martinez, did not look threatening. Villa, in contrast, grew as the game went on and the exerts of Arsenal’s draw with Bayern on Tuesday seemed to be taking their toll on the hosts.

In the space of three minutes as stoppage-time loomed, the Gunners were cut apart and their title hopes dealt a major blow.

It was uncharacteristically poor defending as well. Indeed, Lucas Digne’s cross somehow went all the way across the box before Leon Bailey tapped home.

Arsenal have built their success this season on a tough defence, but this week, for the first time, it has looked shaky.

The second goal came as Arsenal pushed for an equaliser and Ollie Watkins had the freedom of the Emirates as he ran through. It was an excellent finish, however, and one that underlined how wasteful Arteta’s side had been in the first half.

Villa will see themselves worthy of the three points, especially as both Watkins and Youri Tielemans hit the woodwork.

Arsenal, on the other hand, must lick their wounds quickly and prepare for Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.