Aston Villa Narrowly Inches Closer to Premier League Summit with Win Over Arsenal

Aston Villa has moved within just two points of the top of the Premier League after securing a narrow victory over Arsenal, who missed an opportunity to claim the top spot.

Villa took the lead at Villa Park through their captain, John McGinn, who successfully controlled Leon Bailey’s pass before unleashing a powerful shot into the net.

Arsenal almost equalized late in the game through Kai Havertz’s effort, but referee Jarred Gillett disallowed the goal for handball after a video assistant referee (VAR) review.

Despite facing pressure from Arsenal, Villa managed to maintain their lead after a crucial win over reigning champions Manchester City on the previous Wednesday, setting a club record with 15 consecutive home league victories.

The defeat will undoubtedly be a setback for Arsenal, especially after their six-match winning streak in all competitions came to an end.

Are Villa in the Title Race?
Only in the 1980-81 season, when they last won the title, has Aston Villa accumulated more points after 16 games of a top-flight season. There is now a strong belief that they can break into the top four.

There are even rumors that Unai Emery, formerly of Arsenal, could make an unexpected push for the title.

Villa is the only Premier League club that has not dropped points from a winning position this season. Although Arsenal had better chances after falling behind, Villa also created some opportunities of their own.

Ollie Watkins made two excellent saves from Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya, one of them when he was clean through, although the English striker was soon flagged for offside.

In the second half, Lucas Digne and Watkins both had shots saved following counter-attacks.

Villa defended with discipline and intensity, ultimately benefiting from a late VAR decision to remain in third place, just one point behind Arsenal in second place, and to achieve their first eight home wins in a top-flight season since 1932-33.

Late VAR Drama Denies Arsenal
Arsenal started the match at the top of the table but dropped to second place after Liverpool’s win over Crystal Palace earlier in the day.

Mikel Arteta’s team’s last defeat came at the beginning of November, and they had been enjoying a four-match winning streak in the league.

They created plenty of opportunities at Villa Park. Bukayo Saka missed a shot from close range just before McGinn’s opener, and Gabriel Martinelli lifted the ball over Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, but his effort was cleared off the line by Diego Carlos in the first half.

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard had good chances from 12 yards out on both sides of the break. The first was saved by Martinez, while the second skidded wide.

They also had a penalty shout just after halftime when Douglas Luiz caught Gabriel Jesus’ ankle in the area, but VAR upheld referee Gillett’s decision to play on.z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z

Arsenal came close again midway through the second period when a routine corner was spilled by Martinez and deflected off Watkins onto the post before being cleared away with William Saliba lurking.

Saka had the ball in the net in the second half after dribbling around Martinez, but unfortunately, he had timed his run a fraction too early.

However, the real drama was still to come. In stoppage time, Havertz brought down a cross and hacked the ball into the Villa net.

The goal was immediately ruled out on the field, but it took a VAR review to confirm that Havertz had inadvertently controlled the ball with his hand.

Arsenal would not create another clear chance, slipping to their second league defeat of the season.