Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa: Player ratings as Gunners' Premier League title hopes fade

  • Watkins and Bailey got the goals for Aston Villa on Sunday
  • Arsenal missed the chance to go top of the table
  • Player ratings from a disappointing defeat for the Gunners
Arsenal lost ground in the Premier League title race
Arsenal lost ground in the Premier League title race / ADRIAN DENNIS/GettyImages

Arsenal missed the chance to go top of the Premier League table on Sunday, losing 2-0 to Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners had been gifted the opportunity to go top by Liverpool's shock 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday, but goals from Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins ensured that they remained in second place heading into the final six weeks of the 2023/24 campaign.

Manchester City are now in first place and heavy favourites to win a record-breaking fourth consecutive title.

How the game unfolded

Knowing that a win would see his side go top of the Premier League table, Mikel Arteta opted to field an extremely attacking line up, with Kai Havertz being dropped into midfield and Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Jesus being drafted into the front three.

All three would prove to be a nuisance for the Villa defence during the early exchanges.

Both Havertz and Jesus would have great chances to make it 1-0 inside the opening 20 minutes. First Havertz, after being played through on goal by Trossard, saw an effort on goal well saved by Emi Martinez, before Jesus would wide of the post from six yards out following a sweeping Gunners move.

Arsenal were almost made to rue those missed chances in the 38th minute. A wayward pass from Gabriel at the back allowed the in-form Ollie Watkins to steam through on goal. After driving into the right of the penalty area, Watkins saw his drilled effort roll past David Raya and then off the foot of the post.

Straight from the resulting goal kick, Arsenal went up the other end to create another glorious chance of their own. This time the chance would fall to Trossard after Jesus squared the ball cleverly into his path on the edge of the six yard box. Remarkably, the Belgian's side-footed effort would end up being saved by Martinez, who raced along his goal line and stuck out a foot to prevent the ball from nestling in the net.

The tempo of Arsenal's forays forward noticeably dipped at the start of the second half, allowing Villa to grow into the game.

Unai Emery's seide were able to press forward with real intent early in the second 45, coming within a whisker of making it 1-0 on the hour mark through Youri Tielemans. The midfielder saw a stunningly powerful effort from the left of the box loop over the head of David Raya in goal, and then unfortunately off the crossbar and post.

Villa deservedly got their goal in the 84th minute through substitute Leon Bailey. The Jamaican international raced into the back post area to latch onto a low cross from Lucas Digne - which should have been cut out by Gabriel at the near post - to side-foot past Raya with a controlled first time effort.

Soon after, it was 2-0.

This time Watkins would pounce on Arsenal's defensive mishaps, with the England striker latching onto a quick Tielemans through ball before wrestling his way free of Emile Smith Rowe and beautifully dinking over Raya.

Arsenal player ratings (4-3-3)

Jorginho, Declan Rice
Bad result / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

GK: David Raya - 5/10 - Didn't do much aside from pick the ball out of his net.

RB: Ben White - 6/10 - A surprising substitution in the second half considering he was playing quite well. Potentially injury-induced.

CB: William Saliba - 5/10 - It's not been a great week for the France international. Followed up a nervy outing in midweek with another one on Sunday.

CB: Gabriel - 4/10 - Gifted Ollie Watkins an opportunity in the first half, then failed to cut out Digne's cross in the lead up to the opening goal in the second. A rather lacklustre outing from the defender.

LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko - 4/10 - Left-back has been a problem position for Arsenal this season, and judging by Zinchenko's performance on Sunday one can see why. The Ukrainian lost all but one duel on the left, and his clumsy loss of possession on the hour mark almost cost the Gunners a goal.

CM: Martin Odegaard - 7/10 - Never really put a foot wrong in possession. Another questionable sub from Arteta.

CM: Declan Rice - 5/10 - Not at his dynamic best.

CM: Kai Havertz - 6/10 - His movement in the first half caused Villa a whole host of problems, but struggled to get into the game in the second half.

RW: Bukayo Saka - 6/10 - Curled an effort wide in the first half, but was generally not as effective as he usually is.

ST: Gabriel Jesus - 4/10 - Lively, but so sloppy in possession at times. The problem Arsenal have with Jesus is essentially the exact same as Liverpool's current problem with Darwin Nunez.

LW: Leandro Trossard - 6/10 - Denied what looked like a certain goal in the first half by Martinez. Faded quite a bit at the start of the second half.


SUB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (66' for White) - 5/10

SUB: Gabriel Martinelli (66' for Trossard) - 5/10

SUB: Emile Smith Rowe (78' for Odegaard) - 5/10

SUB: Jorginho (78' Jesus) - 4/10 - Lost the ball in the lead up to the second goal.

Manager - Mikel Arteta - 4/10 - His management of the second half ensured that the game drifted away from Arsenal. Questionable substitutes at questionable times played a huge part in the defeat.

Aston Villa player ratings (4-4-2)

Ollie Watkins
Scored the second / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

GK: Emi Martinez - 8/10 - Made a genuinely remarkable save in the first half.

RB: Ezri Konza - 7/10 - Dealt with Trossard and Martinelli extremely well.

CB: Diego Carlos - 8/10 - Was a rock at the heart of the Villa defence, particularly when Arsenal were in the ascendancy in the first 45.

CB: Pau Torres - 7/10 - Won three duels and made good decisions when in possession. Solid.

LB: Lucas Digne - 7/10 - Set up the opening goal with a low cross, and caused Arsenal problems with his forays forward throughout.

RM: Morgan Rogers - 6/10 - Held his own without ever really catching the eye.

CM: John McGinn - 7/10 - Worked tirelessly in the middle of the park all afternoon. A typical chips-fuelled all-action performance.

CM: Youri Tielemans - 8/10 - Hit the crossbar and the post in the second half with one shot on goal, then set up the second goal of the game with a magnificent pass. Tielemans looks very much back to his best.

LM: Nicolo Zaniolo - 5/10 - Worked hard but didn't effect the game.

ST: Moussa Diaby - 4/10 - Fairly non-existent throughout.

ST: Ollie Watkins - 7/10 - Missed a great chance to give Villa the lead in the first half, hitting the foot of the post from the right of the penalty area. Got his goal late in the second, dinking cleverly over Raya.


SUB: Leon Bailey (60' for Diaby) - 7/10 - A timely sub who made a huge difference in the game. Scored the crucial opening goal.

SUB: Alex Moreno (80' for Zaniolo) - N/A

Manager - Unai Emery - 8/10 - Kept his side compact in the first half, then capitalised on Arsenal tiring in the second half by taking control of the game. A masterclass.

Player of the match: Youri Tielemans (Aston Villa)