Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 0: Trezeguet fires superb winner to sink Gunners and lift Villans out of drop zone

IT will not quite be the sort of great escape Nigel Pearson once
pulled off at Leicester City.

Yet Aston Villa can see daylight in their own relegation jailbreak –
and, if they make it, they will cause major embarrassment to the
Watford owners who sacked Pearson on Sunday.

Jack Grealish helps scorer Trezeguet celebrate what could be a huge winner for Aston Villa

Trezeqguet lashed home his breakthrough for Villa on 27 minutes

Villa are above the Hornets and out of the bottom three, their safety
in their own hands after a dynamite strike from Egyptian wideman
Trezeguet proved to be their safecracker here.

Trezeguet has hardly set the Premier League light since his
£8.75million signing last summer – but he scored the goal that sent
Villa to Wembley for the Carabao Cup Final and this first-half winner
was an even more valuable strike.

Defeat West Ham on Sunday and Villa are safe, unless Watford can beat
Arsenal by a greater margin.

A draw or even a defeat could see Dean Smith’s men through if Watford
and Bournemouth fail to capitalise.

Given the inconsistency of Mikel Arteta’s wildly inconsistent Gunners,
Villa will not want to rely on that result.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, go to Everton needing to win and for both of
their rivals to lose.

Arsenal defender David Luiz shows his anguish

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Arsenal cannot now qualify for Europa League through their position in
the Premier League table and will definitely finish below Tottenham  –
although they could evict their bitter rivals, or Wolves, from
European football by winning the FA Cup Final against Chelsea.

To do that, they will need a substantially better performance than
this lethargic showing.

For as resilient and energetic as Villa were, Arsenal were sloppy and
uninspired for a team who had just beaten two of the finest teams on
the planet – Liverpool and Manchester City – in the previous seven

Villa are used to final-day drama, having lost then won play-off
finals in the past two seasons – yet with the added dramas of
significant action elsewhere, Sunday is likely to the most stressful
of all.

They appeared doomed until seven points from their last three matches
but have the whiff of freedom in their nostrils thanks to a
performance of graft and occasional guile.

Villa’s £145million gamble on 12 new signings after last season’s
promotion had looked disappearing down the gurgler until that recent

Villa boss Dean Smith lives out the final moments of a tense, vital win

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rarely got a sniff at goal for Arsenal all night

And buoyed by Watford’s customary gubbing from Manchester City earlier
in the evening, the escape route was before kick-off.

Yet the Gunners had won their previous seven against Villa and had not
lost here since 1998.

The early exchanges were dominated by the sound of a light aircraft
trailing a message.

But given that there were only a few dozen of us here and none of us
saw it, the attention-seekers must have had more money than sense.

Arsenal, despite Arteta having made six changes, were pinging it
around with gay abandon – yet there was no significant goalmouth
action before the first, unnecessary, water break.

At that point Villa withdrew Ahmed El Mohamady, who had suffered a
knock, and replaced him with Frederic Guilbert.

Villa soon forced a corner, swung in by Connor Hourihane, flicked on
by Tyrone Mings and met with a rifled shot from Trezeguet which
swerved away from Emiliano Martinez, giving the Arsenal keeper no

Mikel Arteta looks understandably anxious as Arsenal slumped at Villa Park

It was the sort of goal which would have taken the roof off this place
back in the good old days of spectator sport – and Villa’s players
celebrated it vigorously.

Alex Lacazette swiftly won a free-kick on the right-hand edge of the
box but when Cedric Soares cut back to Dani Ceballos, the Arsenal
midfielder skied it high into the Holte End.

Lucas Torreira, lackling his old nuisance value in midfield, was
booked for banjoing Hourihane and it was Villa who were moving the
ball with purpose.

When they broke at pace, Jack Grealish cut in from the left and bent a
long-ranger narrowly wide of the far post.

And by half-time, Pepe Reina still had not been tested in the Villa goal.

Arteta sent on Granit Xhaka in place of Torreira but still Arsenal
were struggling to click, Villa forcing a string of corners before
Bukayo Saka blazed over when teed up by Cedric.

Villa were camped in the Arsenal half, threatening a second, and when
Grealish scurried forward, he fed sub Keinan Davis, who fired wide
across goal when he ought to have scored.

Arsenal finally went close on 77 minutes when Eddie Nketiah headed
against the inside of the far post from a corner – a heart-stopper for
every Villa supporter, Reina kissing the ball with relief as he
gathered the rebound.

Grealish, in an increasingly influential captain’s display, teed up
John McGinn for a shot well saved by Martinez.

There was a late flurry from Arsenal, met with a series of stout
defensive headers from Villa’s defence – with Reina using all of his
experience to urge them over the line.

One more push now, at the London Stadium, for untold glee among Villa
fans and shame in the Watford boardroom.


By: Ian Tuckey
Title: Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 0: Trezeguet fires superb winner to sink Gunners and lift Villans out of drop zone
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Published Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2020 21:09:22 +0000