Arsenal closed the gap at the top of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Division 2 on Saturday, comfortably defeating hosts Stoke City 3-1 at the Moss Rose Ground.
The victory boosted the Gunners' chances of promotion to Division 1, leaving the north London giants only a point from the summit behind Villa and pacesetters Derby County.
Sunderland continue to lead the top league and remain three points clear of Manchester United in Division 1. However, the Red Devils have three games in-hand on the Black Cats.
Here is the confirmation of Saturday's result, including updated standings and forthcoming matches:
|Stoke City U21||1-3||Arsenal U21|
|2||Man Utd U21||10||8||1||1||25||9||16||25|
|4||Man City U21||11||5||3||3||22||17||5||18|
|2||Aston Villa U21||17||8||4||5||20||23||-3||28|
|4||West Brom U21||14||6||6||2||17||11||6||24|
|5||West Ham U21||15||7||2||6||26||25||1||23|
|Jan. 31||11.45 p.m.||Sunderland U21 vs. Chelsea U21|
|Jan. 31||2 p.m.||Liverpool U21 vs. Reading U21|
|Feb. 1||7 p.m.||Brighton U21 vs. Wolves U21|
|Feb. 1||7 p.m.||Derby U21 vs. West Ham U21|
|Feb. 1||7 p.m.||Everton U21 vs. Manchester United U21|
Arsenal appeared to be cruising against Stoke in their under-21 encounter at Moss Road, but the hosts gave the Gunners a fright late in the day.
The north London team took the lead midway through the first half, as Stephy Mavididi struck for the opener.
The prolific 17-year-old maintained his excellent form for Arsenal this term, giving his side the lead after 21 minutes.
It appeared the visitors had wrapped up the points after the hour-mark, with Marcus McGuane doubling the lead for Arsenal.
McGuane had been a regular for the under-18 side last term, and he made no mistake in making an impression in his recent step up to the senior age group.
However, the game was turned on its head after 75 minutes when Arsenal's Dan Crowley saw red, leaving his team hamstrung for the final moments.
Villa immediately took advantage as Belgian midfielder Julien Ngoy grabbed a goal back for the hosts with 12 minutes on the clock.
The home side pushed hard for an equaliser in the last 10 minutes, but Arsenal secured the three points on the stroke of full-time, as Mavididi scored his second of the match.