Thomas Partey finally scored his first Premier League goal as Arsenal dominated Aston Villa in a 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Emile Smith Rowe were also on the scoresheet for Mikel Arteta’s side, who were a class above their opponents across the 90 minutes and could have won by a bigger margin.
Just one point separated the two sides ahead of kick-off. Each had won three of their opening eight league games, but Arsenal had one more draw and one fewer defeat on their record than Villa.
Arsenal gave a first Premier League start of the season to Alexandre Lacazette. In addition, Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga also came into the lineup. Villa, in contrast, did not change any personnel from their most recent fixture.
The game quickly burst into action, although not because of a scoring chance. Instead, there were some unsavoury scenes within half a minute. Ollie Watkins clashed with Gabriel Magalhaes, prompting a coming together and earning a yellow card.
The first chance came at the other end, when Bukayo Saka crossed for Aubameyang. The Arsenal captain tried an acrobatic finish, but it ended up back with his supplier, whose own shot also missed the target.
Arsenal had the ball in the back of the net soon after via Aubameyang, but the goal was disallowed for a foul from Lacazette on Ezri Konsa – who wasn’t completely innocent himself having clutched a handful of the attacker’s shirt.
The hosts were certainly in control of the early proceedings and both full-backs were getting forward. Tavares and Takehiro Tomiyasu both had shots that missed the target within the first 20 minutes.
Next to go close was midfielder Partey, who fired against the bar after some action in the box.
Soon after, Tavares had a right-footed effort deflected behind after cutting in. From the resulting corner, his side got the lead they deserved.
Smith Rowe sent the ball in and Partey flicked it into the bottom corner to make it 1-0 after 23 minutes with his long-awaited first Premier League goal.
It should have been 2-0 on the half-hour mark after a flowing counter attack. Smith Rowe slid through Partey, who squared for a free Saka, but his first-time shot was straight at Emiliano Martinez.
Arsenal doubler caps off dismal first half for Villa
Despite all their dominance, though, the lead remained at just a single goal as the referee blew his half-time whistle. However, a VAR check for a potential penalty was already underway.
Lacazette had been brought down by Matt Targett in the box and, after consulting the monitor, Craig Pawson awarded a spot kick. Aubameyang stepped up to take it and although Martinez saved his effort, the striker was able to cleverly finish on the rebound with his left foot.
He thus secured a two-goal cushion for his side at the break. In truth, they deserved more. Villa did not record a single shot in the first half.
📊 Arsenal’s 14 attempts is the most they have had in the first half of any of the 67 PL games under Mikel Arteta pic.twitter.com/HfZvdwHW01
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) October 22, 2021
The second half began at a lively pace as well, with Villa showing some belated endeavour and Arsenal aiming to maintain their dominance.
There were chances for Saka and Lokonga shortly after the restart for the Gunners. Meanwhile, Danny Ings saw an effort blocked at the other end.
The third goal came 10 minutes into the second half and it was once again in Arsenal’s favour. Aubameyang smartly flicked the ball through for Smith Rowe, who charged in and guided the ball into the net via a Tyrone Mings deflection.
Is that game over? Arsenal lead 3-0 🎯
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 22, 2021
A good chance fell for Villa just after the hour mark, but Aaron Ramsdale blocked Emiliano Buendia’s low effort.
Leon Bailey also had an attempt as the game entered its final 20 minutes. But it was from comfortable enough range for Ramsdale.
At the other end, Martinez had to push away a shot from Aubameyang, who had cut in from the left.
Villa reduced the deficit via one of their substitutes, Jacob Ramsey, within the final 10 minutes. After Bailey dribbled inwards, Ramsey took charge and placed it into the top corner from the edge of the box. It was a stylish, if inconsequential, way to get his first Villa goal.
Moments later, they could have halved the deficit when Watkins failed to finish from close range.
Any glimmer of hope of a comeback faded, though. There was another chance for Ramsey, but he dragged it wide. In the final moments, Bailey was a whisker away with a free kick.
Ultimately, Arsenal held on to the win they deserved, extending their unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions. Villa are now winless in three.