Things were all going wrong for Arsenal at halftime. Down 2-0 after a neat header by Richard Dunne and a superb side-footed finish from Darren Bent, the hosts weren't playing particularly well and were being punished by Aston Villa on the rare occasions that Alex McLeish's side ventured forward. Although Arsenal weren't two goals worse than Villa by the interval, it was still a pretty sad performance, and much improvement was required in the second half was required to have any hope of getting to the fifth round.
Fortunately for the home side, they did get a much improved performance, coupled with Villa absolutely falling apart. A red tide crashed towards Shay Given's goal - Stephen Ireland cleared a shot off the line as Arsenal showed their intent early - and it was only a matter of time before the Gunners found the goal. They got their chance when Dunne took Aaron Ramsey out for no reason inside the box, leaving Robin van Persie to slot home the resultant penalty and start the comeback.
An error by Theo Walcott somehow ended up levelling the match - the Arsenal winger's failure to cut the ball back led to Villa being able to clear their lines only for Alan Hutton to blast the ball off the back of Walcott's head and into the back of the net. The visitors' misery was compounded further by another penalty (this time the bizarre combination of Laurent Koscielny as foulee and Darren Bent as fouler), and van Persie stepped up again to give Arsenal a 3-2 lead.
Villa would regroup and do a decent job of threatening Lukasz Fabianski's goal in the closing stages, but although they had a few chances to level managed to blow all of them, and the match ended at 3-2 after four minutes of stoppage time. Arsenal could breathe a sigh of relief - they've advanced to the fifth round to face the winner of the Sunderland-Middlesbrough replay - but neither side was particularly impressive at the Emirates today.