Arsenal vs. Aston Villa: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

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Arsenal vs. Aston Villa: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa (Giroud 6', Benteke 22', 61', Luna 85')

Arsenal's season began in horrific style Saturday as Arsene Wenger's side fell 3-1 to an inspired Aston Villa.

Things appeared rosy early on as Olivier Giroud slotted home a low Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cross in the sixth minute.

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The Frenchman's finish was unerring and hinted at greater things to come for the Gunners:

However, less than 20 minutes later, the home side's fragility at the back was exposed by a determined Gabby Agbonlahor.

The forward sprinted through the Arsenal back line before being felled by a slow-to-react Wojciech Szczesny:

Christian Benteke's soft penalty was saved by the keeper, but the Belgian striker was quick to nod the ball home on the rebound.

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The second half ratcheted up the drama when Laurent Koscielny was deemed to have tripped Agbonlahor.

The decision was a harsh one, but Benteke made little mistake with his second spot-kick of the game.

Moments later, Koscielny received his marching orders with a second yellow card for again felling Agbonlahor.

The foul was innocuous, leaving Arsenal's players rightly aggrieved:

With five minutes to play, debutant Antonio Luna burst clear on a counter attack and slotted the ball past Szczesny with ease.

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With this third goal, a significant portion of the home support began to turn on Wenger:

The loss further highlights the need for the Gunners boss to strengthen his side in the transfer window.

There are 37 games left in the season, but another slow start may be the final straw for those looking for an excuse to bemoan the state of affairs at Emirates Stadium.

Key Player Grades

Gabby Agbonlahor: A

Clive Mason/Getty Images

The Aston Villa forward was a buzzing threat throughout Saturday's game.

His sheer pace gave the Gunners' back line nightmares, exposing the fragility of his opponents' tactical rigidity.

Agbonlahor has always been a player capable of greatness, though he has never sustained his form throughout an entire campaign.

Jack Wilshere: B

It is always good to see a fully fit Jack Wilshere in action, even if he was unable to have much of a creative effect against Aston Villa.

His passing was crisp, his movement adroit, though he was perhaps overshadowed by the more penetrative Tomas Rosicky.

It didn't help that at times it seemed like Wilshere was being kicked all over the park by some sturdy Villa tackles.

Christian Benteke: A-

Christian Benteke was one of the revelations of last season. He continued his prolific ways with a double on Saturday.

The Belgian striker held the ball up well during the game, as Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann did the running alongside him.

What's Next?

Arsenal travel to Turkey to take on Fenerbahce in their next fixture, while Aston Villa make the trip to Chelsea in the Premier League.

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