EPL

This is how we have to play – Arteta says Arsenal laid down a marker with Aston Villa win

By Sports Desk October 22, 2021

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal laid down a marker for how he wants his side to play in their dominant 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Friday.

The Gunners snapped a run of three successive defeats to Villa in the Premier League, moving up to ninth place thanks to goals from Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Emile Smith Rowe at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal were two goals ahead at the end of a first half that saw them register 14 shots to Villa's none – the first time they have managed to stop their opponents from getting a shot away before half-time in the league since May 2018 against Burnley. 

The win extends Arsenal's unbeaten run to six matches in the top flight since kicking off their campaign with three straight losses and Arteta was delighted with what he saw.

"The way we started the game and the way we continued was good," he told BBC Sport. "We attacked them really aggressively, we won every duel. We were creative, a threat. I'm proud of the team, they played really well.

"This is how we have to play. This is when we are good, when we play with real desire, real commitment and can have clear ideas of how to attack them. We are closer together as a team. Our decisions were good. We have good players."

Arsenal had an Aubameyang goal rightly ruled out and hit the crossbar through Partey's strike before the latter found a way through with his first goal for the club on his 40th appearance in all competitions.

It looked as though Arteta's side would only have that one goal to show for a dominant first half, but they were awarded a penalty just before half-time after a lengthy VAR review for a Matt Targett foul on Alexandre Lacazette. 

Aubameyang's spot-kick was saved by Emiliano Martinez, but the Gabon international beat his former team-mate from the follow-up as he scored a home league goal for the fourth game running.

Star man Smith Rowe went on to put Arsenal out of reach early in the second half, before Jacob Ramsey's late consolation, but Arteta admitted he was concerned his side's profligacy may have cost them before the second goal went in.

"That was the worry," he said. "That [Aubameyang] goal was really helpful. We deserved many more. Villa are a really good side. When they had a little bit of the ball in your half they can cause problems.

"It was really impressive what they did, especially Nuno Tavares. This was his first start. To play with courage, credit to the boy. We reviewed the Crystal Palace game, how we started and why we weren’t consistent in the game. We put it right today."

Smith Rowe pulled the string for Arsenal from midfield by playing a game-high four key passes, including the assist from a corner for Partey's opener, which he added to with a deflected strike of his own to round off a counter-attack.

"Emile was terrific," Arteta told Sky Sports. "He's scoring goals, but I feel it was more about the team today. Scoring should be a habit and he should demand that in his game as he's capable of doing it. He's developing more in other areas.

"The other night against Crystal Palace, he wasn't 100 per cent fit but he wanted to step forward with the injury he had. 

"He's changing his ways in terms of the eating habits that he had and I thought he was superb. This was an example of why we wanted to keep him and we're very happy with him."

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