Arsenal survived a huge scare from Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon, beating the away side 3-2, as two late goals helped relieve some of the pressure on Gunners boss Unai Emery.
Aston Villa took the lead after 20 minutes, as midfielder John McGinn darted unnoticed into the penalty area and tucked away a dangerous cross from the Villa left-hand side. Arsenal's afternoon became a real uphill task when Ainsley Maitland-Niles received a second yellow for a clash with Neil Taylor, and the Gunners were down to ten men.
Despite their one-man disadvantage, Emery's side found an equaliser on the hour-mark, Nicolas Pepe coolly converting from the spot to bag the first goal for his new club. However, the home side were level for a matter of minutes, Wesley restoring Villa's lead, taking advantage of some awful defensive work.
Calum Chambers equalised for the hosts, reacting quickest to a loose ball in the box, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stole maximum points for the hosts with a stunning free-kick. It was a harsh result on Villa, as the away side fought bravely throughout the match.
Key Talking Point
Red cards change games, there's no doubt about it. Arsenal were behind, but with plenty of time to pull themselves back into the game and overturn the early deficit. Their task became monumental however when Maitland-Niles was given his marching orders following a relatively innocuous clash with Taylor.
The referee deemed the tackle a second-bookable offence, and Arsenal were unable to contest the decision due to the current laws of the game. With all the controversy and clamour surrounding VAR, today's decision begs the question: why is a second yellow card not worthy of a video review?
It was a moment that completely changed the outlook of the game, and Jonathan Moss would probably be inclined to change his punishment upon a second viewing.
A poor decision, and plenty to think about for the Football Association.
Substitutes: Chambers (6) Willock (6), Torreira (6)
STAR MAN - That's why you pay the big bucks. Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang suffered a largely frustrating afternoon, lacking service from a team bereft of confidence and cohesion. At 2-2, the clinical striker was given one opportunity to stamp his mark on proceedings. And he most certainly did that.
Aubameyang stood over a free-kick, and with all Arsenal's hopes resting on his shoulders, the ex-Borussia Dortmund star struck a wonderful effort which snatched the points for the hosts. In the end, it was an impressive comeback by the Gunners, but Emery has Aubameyang to thank for that.
Not a fan of mid season changes, but Emery definitely has to be fired by Monday to save our season. Nothing is working at all, it doesn't matter what he wants to do he simply can't motivate or coach these players to do anything significant. It's a waste of time.— Dezildez (@Dezildezzz) September 22, 2019
Maitland-Niles sent off for a perfectly timed tackle and referee doesn't even consult VAR or have a second look. The system is a joke.— Stephen Larkin (@StephenFLarkin) September 22, 2019
Key Talking Point
There was plenty made of the public bust-up between Tyrone Mings and Anwar El Ghazi in Aston Villa's draw against West Ham, and all eyes were on the pair and whether the team's spirit had taken a hit. It's safe to say, that episode is well and truly behind them.
Dean Smith's side showed incredible spirit throughout the match, pegging back the hosts and putting up stubborn resistance against the Europa League finalists.
Defensively resolute, Mings was at the heart of everything solid and positive for the away side, and their supporters will have real belief in their survival credentials.
A cruel ending for the Villans, but plenty of positives to take from a great performance.
Substitutes: Elmohamady (7), Hourihane (N/A), Lansbury (N/A)
His second-half display was excellent, grabbing the game by the scruff of its neck and driving at a nervous Arsenal defence. The Gunners had only just restored parity when the 24-year-old decided to take matters into his own hands, dancing through a series of half-hearted challenges before squaring for Wesley to tuck home.
What a player.
Jack Grealish take a bow! Brilliant run from the Aston Villa captain to set up Wesley for the second goal.— EiF (@EiFSoccer) September 22, 2019
Grealish keeps getting better and better with each game that goes by. One of our favorite players to watch.
Quality from grealish— gbengNathy B (@DJNathyB) September 22, 2019
Arsenal fans are rightly concerned by their side's poor performances in recent weeks, and after hosting Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup, the Gunners travel to Old Trafford to take on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's faltering Manchester United.
Villa boss Smith will be extremely proud of his team's display at the Emirates stadium, and he'll be confident that his players can match the levels they reached on Sunday when they travel to Brighton in midweek for an EFL Cup tie, and then host Burnley on Saturday afternoon.