Five talking points as Arsenal slump to heavy defeat at home to Aston Villa

Arsenal were dealt a reality check by Aston Villa who left the Emirates with all three points.

Bukayo Saka turned into his own net before Ollie Watkins bagged a brace in the second-half to seal the win.

The visitors thought they'd taken the earliest of leads when John McGinn smashed home after 48 seconds, but after a lengthy VAR check were denied.

That didn't halt their dominance however as they bossed the contest and deservedly went in ahead at the interval.

Saka was forced to put Matt Targett's cross into his own net which forced Mikel Arteta to ring the changes.

But Arsenal were unable to find the answers and Watkins scored twice in the space of three second-half minutes to help Villa get back to winning ways.

Dean Smith had seen his side lose consecutive games by three-goal margins while Arsenal lapped up the plaudits following their win at Manchester United.

But the Gunners came crashing back down to earth as they lost for the fourth time this season.

Here are five talking points from a comprehensive Villa win in north London…

Get the latest news straight into your inbox!

It has been a hectic season so far – so make sure you don't miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!

All the latest transfer news and big stories will land straight into your inbox. You won't miss out.

To sign up, put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.

1. Wonderful Villa upset form guide

Southampton and Leeds had both put Villa to the sword at Villa Park in recent weeks so they must've feared the worst en route to the Emirates.

Arsenal looked a million dollars as they dominated the Red Devils last Sunday and they then smashed in four goals in Europe on Thursday.

A formality? Think again.

Villa were fantastic from minute one and looked every bit the side who won four on the bounce earlier this season.

Ross Barkley and Jack Grealish especially caused Arsenal all kinds of problems and matched their quality with plenty of graft.

And having a man like Watkins to finish off their good work certainly makes life easier.

2. Lacazette's struggles

It might seem strange to suggest that Arsenal's top goalscorer is a man under pressure, but Lacazette has not scored since September.

There are increasing calls for youngster Eddie Nketiah to replace the Frenchman in the front three.

And they will have gathered further momentum when Lacazette headed over from close range in the first-half with the Gunners seeking an equaliser. 

Arteta has demanded more goals from the 29-year-old and bought him off for Nketiah on the hour.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is indispensable despite his form and Willian received a glowing review from his manager this week so if they opt for a change in attack, odds are Lacazette will be the man sacrificed going forward.

3. No Partey when you're under the pump

A week ago Thomas Partey was being lauded from all corners for his display at Old Trafford.

But Arsenal were flat in the opening 45 against Villa and lacked any creative flair.

It forced Arteta to make a change and Dani Ceballos was bought on with Partey the man sacrificed.

The Ghanaian has plenty to offer, but it goes to show that Arsenal need to benefit from his combative style by creating when in possession.

If they don't, then the £40m summer signing could well be replaced in the future with the Gunners midfield lacking that player who will get on the ball, find the gaps and link play.

4. VAR has its say

Everyone's favourite refereeing tool has had a say in almost every game today and it was more of the same at the Emirates.

You can argue that the rules, no matter how debatable the handball law is, have been implemented fairly throughout the weekend.

But ruling out Villa's opener was down to Ross Barkley being in an offside position.

The on loan midfielder was adjudged to have been in Bernd Leno's eye line and McGinn's strike was ruled out.

Its worth noting that the Gunners keeper was never going to save it and not a single defender appealed for offside.

But on balance it looks as if Martin Atkinson, with some notable help, made the right call.

5. No Emirates clean sheet

Arsenal failed to keep a clean sheet for the fourth home game in succession from the beginning of a Premier League season.

The last time that happened was in 2014/15 and eludes to a clear frailty on their own patch.

West Ham, Sheffield United, Leicester and now Villa have all managed to breach the Arsenal defence in north London.

Both their clean sheets have come on the road at Fulham and Manchester United.

Arsenal often play on the front foot which can leave them exposed, but conceding against Villa was simply down to being second best throughout.

Will Arsenal finish in the top four this season? Have your say here.

* Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip

Source: Read Full Article