A completely different Aston Villa emerged from the tunnel to start the second half, and while Arsenal—ahead 2-0 at the break thanks to goals from Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud—took their foot off the gas their hosts forced the issue.
Christian Benteke scored his first goal in 13 matches to pull the hosts to within a goal of an impressive result at Villa Park, but in the end the Gunners did just enough to claim the three points and retake the Premier League summit.
Following are ratings and analysis for each Arsenal player that saw action in the 2-1 victory on Monday.
|Arsenal Player Ratings|
|Player||First Half||Full Time|
First Half analysis
Szczesny: Didn’t have a save to make in the first half.
Sagna: Combining well with Gnabry down the right-hand attacking flank.
Mertesacker: A few important tackles, but struggling in the air on crosses and set-pieces.
Koscielny: Has so far completed each and every one of his passes.
Monreal: Made an absolutely vital tackle on Adebayor midway through the frame.
Wilshere: A goal and assist in less than a minute.
Flamini: Allowing Wilshere the freedom to move forward.
Gnabry: Causing Luna and Clark all sorts of problems.
Ozil: Several uncharacteristic give-aways for the German in the first half.
Cazorla: Arsenal’s least-involved attacker so far.
Giroud: Exceptional control of Wilshere’s cross to lead to his goal.
Second Half analysis
Szczesny: Faced five shots in the second half and stopped four of them.
Sagna: Effectiveness of the first period vanished at the restart.
Mertesacker: Lost Benteke at the far post on the Villa goal.
Koscielny: Completed 98% of his passes in another impressive performance.
Monreal: Was replaced by Gibbs after picking up a knock just after the hour mark.
Wilshere: Overall a decent display, but he could have done better on the defensive side of the ball in the second half.
Flamini: Successfully executed three tackles.
Gnabry: In the end he didn’t do all that much and was replaced by Tomas Rosicky.
Ozil: Not enough touches of the ball in the second half, and perhaps gave the ball away a bit too often.
Cazorla: His giveaway to Lowton led to the Benteke goal.
Giroud: Very poor in the second frame.
Gibbs: Outplayed by Lowton, who he lost in the buildup to Benteke’s goal.
Rosicky: Substituted in, then out with an injury.
Oxlade-Chamberlain: Came on with just four minutes remaining.