Gunners end week on a high
Arshavin, Nasri, Chamakh and Wilshere on target for Arsenal
Last Updated: 27/11/10 3:11pm
Samir Nasri celebrates after giving Arsenal a 2-0 lead before half-time.
Arsenal ended a difficult week on a high note following an entertaining 4-2 victory at happy hunting ground Aston Villa.
Following defeats by rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Braga, the Gunners needed to bounce back and did so in style with a dominant attacking performance in the Midlands.
Arsenal could have been out of sight before half-time, with Marouane Chamakh denied by Brad Friedel inside the opening 30 seconds before Tomas Rosicky twice went close.
The breakthrough eventually arrived six minutes before the break when two Villa players failed to intercept Lukasz Fabianski's put downfield and Andrey Arshavin cut into the box to fire a low shot past Friedel.
Within 60 seconds it should have been 2-0, but Samir Nasri hit the side-netting after rounding Friedel, who then produced an excellent one-handed stop to keep out Chamakh's header.
But Villa could not hold out again until the break as Arshavin's corner picked out Nasri just inside the box and the Frenchman's first-time volley took a deflection on its way past Friedel.
Villa brought on Nathan Delfouneso at half-time to replace former Gunners star Robert Pires and the hosts were back in the game on 52 minutes when Ciaran Clark thumped home a volley past the unsighted Fabianski.
The comeback appeared to be quickly nipped in the bud, however, as Arsenal scored a third goal just four minutes later as Chamakh beat Friedel to Rosicky's slide-rule pass and he poked his shot underneath the veteran Villa keeper.
The home side refused to buckle and were back in the match with 20 minutes to go when Clark scored his second of the game as his flicked header bounced off the bar and over the line.
The Gunners appeared to be wobbling following that goal, but settled the nerves with a fourth in stoppage-time as the unmarked Jack Wilshere stooped to head home Chamakh's cross.
Arsenal were almost gifted the lead in the opening 30 seconds after sloppy play by Stephen Warnock. He played the ball straight into the path of Arshavin who released Chamakh inside the box.
Villa keeper Friedel partially blocked the shot but it needed James Collins to make a goal-line clearance.
The Gunners were first to settle and Rosicky squandered a clear-cut opening. Nasri was the creator with a perfectly weighted pass to leave Rosicky with only Friedel to beat but he drilled his shot across the face of goal.
Arsenal continued to dominate and Friedel saved from Rosicky away to his right although he did not make full contact on his shot.
Villa were being pulled apart almost at will and Arshavin had a shot deflected for a corner after exchanging passes with Chamakh. Nasri then dragged a shot just past the post as the home side hung on desperately.
It was 26 minutes before Villa created a worthwhile chance and Ashley Young should have given them the lead.
Stewart Downing's dangerous, inswinging centre found its way to Young unmarked inside the six-yard box at the post but he sent his shot over the bar.
Villa tried to get a foothold in the game and Laurent Koscielny had to be alert to cut out a dangerous cross from the overlapping Warnock after good play by Barry Bannan.
But it was no surprise when Arshavin put the Gunners ahead after 39 minutes. The Russian picked the ball up on the left and cut inside and past the challenge of Richard Dunne before firing a low shot into the far corner of the net.
Nasri could have made it 2-0 a minute later when he nudged the ball wide of Friedel but drilled his effort into the side netting.
Friedel made a superb save to keep out Chamakh's header from Bacary Sagna's cross but a minute before half-time Nasri made it 2-0 with a superb volley direct from Arshavin 's corner.
Houllier opted for a half-time change with Delfouneso replacing Pires and giving support up front to John Carew.
After 52 minutes Clark reduced the arrears with his first senior goal for the club. Bannan's cross was only half cleared by Sebastien Squillaci to Clark on the edge of the box and his left-footed drive flew past Fabianski into the roof of the net.
Villa were transformed after their ineffective first-half performance but in the 56th minute Chamakh restored Arsenal's two-goal advantage.
Rosicky played the ball into the path of the striker who managed to flick the ball under Friedel's body.
Clark had a golden chance to net a second goal but screwed his shot wide from 10 yards out but after 70 minutes the youngster did strike again.
Ashley Young's corner was flicked on by Dunne and Clark forced the ball over the line.
Chamakh was yellow carded for a challenge on Dunne and then Friedel denied the Moroccan on the edge of the box after being freed by Arshavin.The Gunners looked nervy when Villa ventured forward in a tense finish before Wilshere made it 4-2 from Chamakh's cross in injury-time.
|Aston Villa||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||7|
|2||Shots off Target||9|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||27||39|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||27||30|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|