Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strike seals stunning comeback
Report and highlights as Arsenal move up to fourth in the Premier League
Last Updated: 23/09/19 10:42am
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's dramatic winner helped 10-man Arsenal complete a stunning late comeback to beat Aston Villa 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners suffered an early setback when John McGinn gave Villa the lead in the 20th minute and things went from bad to worse for the hosts when Ainsley Maitland-Niles received his marching orders for a second bookable offence just before the break.
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Nicolas Pepe's first goal for the club gave Arsenal a lifeline in the 59th minute, but Villa regained the lead 89 seconds later through Wesley and looked on course for a famous victory.
But their resistance was finally broken in the final 10 minutes as goals from substitute Calum Chambers (81) and Aubameyang (84) secured Unai Emery's side a vital three points to move them up to fourth in the table.
9 - @Arsenal's 3-2 win over Aston Villa was only the ninth occasion in Premier League history a team has won a match after receiving a red card while losing - three of those wins have been by Arsenal (also v Derby in 1997 and Bolton in 2008). Character. pic.twitter.com/xkiSLH8ntP— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 22, 2019
How Arsenal completed a stunning turnaround
The game was wide open in the early stages as both sides flooded forward at every opportunity.
Arsenal: Leno (6), Maitland-Niles (4), Sokratis (5), Luiz (6), Kolasinac (6), Xhaka (4), Guendouzi (6), Ceballos (6), Pepe (6), Aubameyang (6), Saka (6).
Man of the match: John McGinnSubs: Chambers (7), Willock (7), Torreira (7).
Aston Villa: Heaton (7), Guilbert (6), Engels (5), Mings (7), Taylor (6), McGinn (8), Nkamba (7), Grealish (7), Trezeguet (7), Wesley (7), El Ghazi (7).
Subs: Elmohamady (6), Hourihane (n/a), Lansbury (n/a)
Maitland-Niles missed a golden early opportunity after he was picked out inside the box by Bukayo Saka, who was making his full Premier League debut, but the full-back could only send his strike high over Tom Heaton's crossbar.
Aston Villa were giving the Gunners plenty to think too about with McGinn forcing Bernd Leno into action on two occasions before eventually breaking the deadlock in the 20th minute.
McGinn, who had the freedom of the Arsenal penalty area, latched on to Anwar El Ghazi's cross, converting past Leno and into the far corner to give Villa a well-deserved lead.
The Arsenal defenders were left scratching their heads after the opener and the Unai Emery's side suffered a further setback shortly before half-time as Maitland-Niles, who was booked earlier in the game for bringing down El Ghazi, was sent off after crashing into Neil Taylor to earn a second booking.
It left the Gunners with a mountain to climb after the break as Emery brought on Chambers for Saka in a bid to help shore up his leaking defence.
Arsenal were handed a lifeline when Guendouzi was tripped in the penalty area by Bjorn Engels. Pepe, who has scored 10 penalties since the start of last season, made no mistake from the spot, firing the ball straight down the middle to level things up.
Parity was short-lived though as Villa responded almost immediately. McGinn flashed wide of the target before Jack Grealish burst into the box before squaring for Wesley to sweep home at the near post.
Ten-man Arsenal had it all to do again as Guendouzi's drive was touched onto the base of the post by Heaton and Aubameyang skied over the bar from close range.
Arsenal handed a full Premier League debut to Bukayo Saka as Unai Emery made six changes from the side that beat Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday.
Aston Villa made one change from the side that drew 0-0 with West Ham last Monday with Trezeguet replacing Jota, who dropped down to the bench.
But Villa, who were dropping deeper and deeper, continued to invite pressure and the Gunners equalised for a second time as Chambers poked home from close range.
The comeback was complete three minutes later as Engels fouled Aubameyang on the edge of the area, and Arsenal's talisman, who was wearing the captain's armband after Granit Xhaka was taken off, fired in his seventh of the season from the free-kick.
A shell-shocked Villa pushed in the closing stages for an equaliser of their own, but Arsenal held out to secure a crucial victory.
Chambers: Massive win for Arsenal
Arsenal defender Calum Chambers: "I am very pleased. I hold my hand up to their second goal, so I had to put things right. We stuck in there and worked hard and deserved it in the end.
"The win is massive for us as a club and team. We have the quality and the spirit. We dug in deep to get the momentum going."
What the managers said
Arsenal head coach Unai Emery on Maitland-Niles' second booking: "I was thinking we can manage. He didn't touch the player. He touched the ball. We had to accept the referee's decision."
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith: "We will never get a better chance to win at the Emirates. Going a goal up and they went down to 10 men. We retracted when we should have gone out to get the second. We have made a mistake.
"We have given them three goals and dropped too deep in the second half, hanging on to the lead we had. Just before half-time, I thought it became a bit of a basketball game - it was end-to-end. We didn't make the most of our opportunities and lost our structure.
"We ended up jumping out from midfield and they played through us. It is a bitterly disappointing dressing room as they know they can compete, but we lost belief in the second half. I don't see too many positives at the moment but in the cold light of day, we will look back and analyse the game. The home games are going to be very important. We have had opportunities in all games and not fear anybody except maybe the Man Citys and Liverpools in this league."
- Arsenal's 3-2 win over Aston Villa was only the ninth occasion in Premier League history a team has won a match after receiving a red card while losing - three of those wins have been by Arsenal (also v Derby in 1997 and Bolton in 2008).
- Aston Villa haven't won any of their last five Premier League away games when scoring first (D1 L4), suffering defeats in each of their two such games in 2019-20 (1-3 v Spurs and 2-3 v Arsenal).
- The Gunners have only kept one clean sheet in their last 10 games against newly-promoted teams in the Premier League (1-0 v Huddersfield in May 2018), including none in their seven such games under Unai Emery.
- Nicolas Pepe has converted 10 penalties since the start of last season within the top five European leagues; the joint-most of any player in this period, along with Luka Milivojevic and Fabio Quagliarella.
Saka's first Premier League start
Bukayo Saka became the third-youngest player on the day of his first Premier League start for Arsenal, with only Cesc Fábregas (17y 104d) and Theo Walcott (17y 212d) doing so at a younger age.
Arsenal host Nottingham Forest in the third round of Carabao Cup on Tuesday, September 24; Kick-off 7.45pm. Next up in the Premier League for the Gunners is a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, live on Monday Night Football on September 30; Kick-off 8pm.
Aston Villa travel to Brighton in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, September 25; Kick-off 7.45pm. Villa's next Premier League match is at home to Burnley on Saturday, September 28; Kick-off 3pm.