February 25, 2021

Watkins strike sinks Gunners

February 6, 2021
Ollie Watkins

Ollie Watkins’ second-minute goal proved the winner as Aston Villa’s 1-0 victory condemned Arsenal to a second league defeat in five days.

Watkins made the most of some lax defending between Cedric Soares and Gabriel, which allowed Bertrand Traore to steal in before teeing up his team-mate for a close-range finish with only 74 seconds on the clock.

Goalkeeper Mat Ryan conceded 74 seconds into his debut for Arsenal as Aston Villa completed their first top-flight double over the Gunners for 28 years.

Former Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez started the move which led to Bertrand Traore pouncing on a mistake by Cedric Soares before Ollie Watkins scored with a shot that deflected off Rob Holding.

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Boyhood Gunners fan Ryan, signed on loan from Brighton in January and starting in place of suspended first-choice keeper Bernd Leno, produced a fine save to deny Traore a goal on his return to the Villa side.

Nicolas Pepe shot wide when played through in that second period in one of Arsenal’s few clear-cut attacks and later pulled a smart save from Emiliano Martinez with a deflected strike. But the 10th-placed Gunners’ resurgence was dealt a further blow by the end scoreline, while Villa moved a point off sixth-placed Chelsea.

Ryan could not have wished for a worse start to his debut than to pick the ball out of his own net with barely a minute on the clock, after Cedric’s weak pass to Gabriel instead found an alert Traore, whose excellent pass for Watkins was turned home via a deflection for the opening goal.

It took Arsenal 29 minutes to even consider replying in kind, when Granit Xhaka’s free-kick was palmed behind by Martinez in their first shot on target of the afternoon.

Instead of pushing for an equaliser, the Gunners lacked incision and Villa came by far the closest to scoring the game’s second goal, with Traore given space to turn in the area by Cedric before Ryan denied him with an excellent reaction stop.

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