It took until the final 15 minutes of the match for Aston Villa to put up a fight against Arsenal, but they came close to snatching a point from the title contenders. Unfortunately for the Villa faithful, they started their aggressive push too late and were unable to overturn their poor first half result, going on to lose, 2-1.
The game featured a very scary moment early on, with Nathan Baker taking a shot to the face from Serge Gnabry. While Baker's block was a crucial one, it also knocked him out cold. He remained on the pitch for eight minutes and stayed unconscious after being carried to the dressing room before eventually waking up before the end of the first half. Villa started the game with a back three, but had to move to a back four after they took Baker off, replacing him with Leandro Bacuna.
With their defense re-arranged, the hosts looked disorganized and eventually gave up a pair of goals in extremely quick succession. Jack Wilshere opened the scoring in the 34th minute, finishing low from 15 yards off a square ball from Nacho Monreal. Less than a minute later, Wilshere picked out Olivier Giroud for a second, finding him with a diagonal pass to the top of the box. Giroud's control wasn't great, but the ball bounced fortunately to his feet off his second touch and he was able to collect himself to smash past Brad Guzan.
The early part of the second half featured very little action going either way, with Arsenal seemingly content to pass their way to victory and Villa unable to do much about it. That changed in the 76th minute off a turnover by Santi Cazorla, which the Villains capitalized on instantly. Straightaway off the turnover, Matt Lowton hit an early cross to the back post for Christian Benteke, who converted with a diving header, ending a spell of 13 games without a goal.
Villa pushed hard for an equalizer and were on top in the final minutes -- they finished the match with more total shots and shorts on target than Arsenal -- but Wojciech Szczesny was never truly challenged as Arsenal closed out the game.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Baker (Bacuna 21'), Vlaar, Clark, Luna, El Ahmadi (Weimann 73'), Westwood, Delph, Lowton, Agbonlahor, Benteke
Goals: Benteke (76')
Arsenal: Szczesny, Monreal (Gibbs 66'), Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna, Wilshere, Flamini, Cazorla, Özil, Gnabry (Rosicky 69', Oxlade-Chamberlain 86'), Giroud
Goals: Wilshere (34'), Giroud (35')