Arsenal vs. Aston Villa: Final score 1-3, Villians put 10-man Gunners to the sword

Clive Mason

There was plenty of controversy leading to Aston Villa's win over Arsenal, but the Gunners can't exactly say that they played well enough to deserve more.

Arsenal's season was off to a rough start before it even kicked a ball due to a bit of an injury crisis, but it's already gotten quite a bit worse. Two Arsenal players came off because of injuries on Saturday while Laurent Koscielny was sent off, with his mistakes leading to Aston Villa's 3-1 victory.

Koscielny's first yellow card -- which came on a foul that also resulted in a penalty -- was a controversial one. However, Aston Villa made the most of its opportunities and was in position to take points before anything remotely controversial occurred.

Olivier Giroud got Arsenal off to a brilliant start with a goal just six minutes into the game. On a quick counter, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain broke free and got to the byline before cutting a ball towards the near post. Giroud made a perfect run, then directed a shot across his body to beat Brad Guzan.

The Gunners were well in control until the 21st minute, when their goalkeeper gave Villa a way back into the game. Wojciech Szczesny made a poor challenge on Gabby Agbonlahor resulting in a penalty and a yellow card. Christian Benteke had his initial penalty effort saved, but followed up and headed past Szczesny on his second effort.

Kieran Gibbs, who has battled injury troubles throughout his career, had to be taken off for Carl Jenkinson in the 29th minute. Arsenal had to make another switch due to injury at halftime, with Oxlade-Chamberlain going off for Santi Cazorla.

Arsenal had a brilliant chance to reclaim the lead in the 52nd minute when Tomas Rosicky beat multiple defenders to get himself one-on-one with Guzan, but he screwed his effort over the bar. Just a minute later, Fabian Delph surged down the pitch and nearly put Villa in the lead with a brilliant shot, but his effort hit the inside of the post and just barely avoided going over the line.

The game's most controversial moment occurred in the 61st minute, when Koscielny was shown a yellow card for a tackle on Agbonlahor in the box. He got the ball and none of Agbonlahor with his front foot and his challenge was not a dangerous one, but his trailing leg caught the back of Agbonlahor's leg. Benteke only needed one shot on this occasion and scored from the spot to put Arsenal up 2-1.

Koscielny picked up his second yellow six minutes later for bringing his arm up high on a challenge with Andi Weimann. Like the first yellow, the second was a bit harsh.

Having just 10 men on the pitch didn't stop Arsenal from committing bodies forward and taking risks to find an equalizer, but Guzan was too good in goal. He came off his line to stuff Rosicky from close range in the 72nd minute, then made an athletic reaction save on a half-volley by Cazorla in the 78th minute to keep his team in front.

Eventually, Arsenal's risky tactics led to it giving up a goal on the break. Weimann set up Antonio Luna on the break for Villa's third, a debut goal for the new Villains left back.

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