Arsenal visited Villa Park today with an opportunity to go top of the table, while their opponent remained buried at the bottom on a club record winless streak that had stretched to 14 games (only 3 draws and the opening day win). The Villains were bright in the early going, but soon found themselves behind, after Walcott was brought down by Hutton in the box. Kevin Friend took his time in making the decision but, with a little help from a friend (the side judge), ultimately points to the spot. Giroud sent Brad Guzan the wrong way (8’) for a 1-0 lead, his second successful penalty this week. Arsenal dominated the first half from here, to the tune of 59 percent possession, and a surging Ramsey dispossessed a Villain to launch a blazing counterattack that ended with Walcott sending Ozil through. The German cut across to Ramsey who scored one of the easiest goals of his career, suddenly finding his old form after a long goalless streak (he has two goals and two assists in his last three appearances in all comps).
Aston Villa played better in the second half and ended the game with 18 shots (only two on target), though the Gunners managed the game well and had quality chances to score a third on a few second half counters. It ended 2-0 and Arsenal are now top of the table, at least for the 30 hours until Leicester City take on Chelsea. The game by the numbers …
50 – Giroud’s BPL goal tally in 113th league games. Impressive after a poor ratio in his first couple of years in North London.
7 – the Frenchman becomes the 7th Gunner to reach that tally in the Premier League era, joining Henry, Wright, van Persie, Bergkamp, Pires and the man who provided the opportunity (Walcott)
1 – the number of hat tricks by the Frenchman at Arsenal (his one and only coming in the critical 3-0 victory Wednesday)
13 – League assists by Ozil this year (in 15 games), after only 5 in the league all of last season – along with 2 league and 2 UCL goals
7 – the number of assists he now needs to tie Henry’s record tally from 2004-05, with as many as 23 league games to find those 7.
29 – the number of appearances by Ox since his last goal.
12 - the number of games Ramsey went without a league goal before the two in his last two.
169 – the number of clean sheets by Cech in the league, tying David James record
349 – the number of games it took Cech (it took James 557)
78 – the game time when Jack Grealish came on for the first time since his clubbing hijinx. Played well in his cameo, but couldn’t bring AV back.
0-3-12 – Villa record in last 15; a club record to forget!
75 – number of points Arsenal have in 2015: best in the league
Arsenal next take on Man City Monday before a run of winnable fixtures against Southampton, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Sunderland. A nice winning streak could see them in a strong position for the second half push. Aston Villa, on the other hand, looks almost certain to drop unless they can pull serious points out of their next four fixtures with fellow league strugglers – Newcastle (who have beaten Liverpool and Tottenham in their last two), West Ham, Norwich and Sunderland. COYG!