EPL

Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal: Martinez own goal inspires Gunners to dramatic comeback win

By Sports Desk February 18, 2023

Emiliano Martinez's late own goal proved the turning point as Arsenal came from behind twice to beat Aston Villa 4-2 and boost to their Premier League title hopes.

The Gunners, who were replaced at the summit after losing to Manchester City in midweek, looked to be heading to another underwhelming result at Villa Park before luck went their way in stoppage time.

Ollie Watkins' clinical finish put former Arsenal boss Unai Emery's Villa in charge early on, and although Bukayo Saka soon equalised, the visitors trailed at the break thanks to Philippe Coutinho's sensationally worked team goal.

Oleksandr Zinchenko levelled again and that appeared to be as good as it would get for Arsenal, but Martinez inadvertently put into his own net late on and was then caught up the other end of the pitch as Gabriel Martinelli completed a dramatic turnaround.

Arsenal's limp start provided few clues of the jubilation to come as they were behind inside five minutes.

Matty Cash robbed Zinchenko and released Watkins, who created space with a step-over before lashing across Aaron Ramsdale into the bottom-right corner.

Saka hammered into the roof of the net to level when Ben White's cross was only partially cleared.

But Villa restored their lead in style just past the half-hour mark, Coutinho coolly slotting in from 16 yards after Emiliano Buendia dummied Alex Moreno's cut-back to conclude a brilliant move.

Mikel Arteta's side began to exert more control after the break restored parity again when Zinchenko drilled home with 61 minutes played.

When Martin Odegaard then missed a glorious chance to win it, Arsenal appeared to be heading for a fourth consecutive top-flight game without a win.

But a stoppage-time potshot from Jorginho cracked against the crossbar and ricocheted in off former Arsenal goalkeeper Martinez's head.

Martinez went up for a Villa corner in the hope of making amends, but Arsenal countered, allowing an already-celebrating Martinelli to knock into an empty net.

What does it mean? Arsenal show immense character

Even if they had not ultimately gone on to win, Arsenal would have been due plenty of praise for their attitude here as they twice they came back from a goal down.

In the end, that spirit to keep scrapping away made the win possible, and the victory will surely be a massive boost for their title push after a tricky few weeks.

It looked like Arsenal were going to be four without a win in the Premier League, but they are back at the summit for at least a couple of hours and likely feeling they got what they deserved.

Odegaard a worthy winner

Had his late miss been costly, it would have felt so unjust given the quality of his performance.

Odegaard was sensational here and at the heart of so much of Arsenal's best play. He made seven key passes, including one assist, which is the most by an Arsenal player in a single Premier League game since April 2019.

Martinez antics come back to haunt him

Martinez had been acting up all day. He was routinely time wasting, seemingly trying to wind up Arsenal fans – there was something quite fitting about the late turnaround having him at the centre of it.

Key Opta Facts

- This was Arsenal's 14th Premier League away win against Aston Villa, their joint-best such record against a side in the competition (also 14 against West Ham).

- Arsenal have now conceded the opening goal in four of their last five Premier League games, one more than they did in their first 18 games of the 2022-23 campaign (3).

- Ollie Watkins has scored in each of his last four Premier League games for Aston Villa – it is his longest such run in the top four tiers of English football. Indeed, only Erling Haaland and Marcus Rashford (both 8) have more goals in the competition since the World Cup break than his five.

- Aston Villa’s Philippe Coutinho has now scored five Premier League goals against Arsenal. Against no other opponents does he have more (also five against Manchester City and Southampton).

- Only Erling Haaland (30) and Harry Kane (18) have been involved in more Premier League goals this season than Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (17 – nine goals, eight assists), while it is the second successive season he has reached double figures for goals in all competitions (10), netting 12 in 2021-22.

What's next?

Arsenal go to Leicester City next Saturday, while Aston Villa are at Everton the same day.

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