Football News

“Agent Jorginho” wins first game for Arsenal to keep Gunners in control of title race

By Harry Edwards

Published: 14:52, 18 February 2023

Jorginho was the hero for Arsenal as they returned to the top of the Premier League table thanks to a 4-2 win over Aston Villa.

The Italian was signed from Chelsea in the January transfer window but hasn’t had the best start to life in an Arsenal shirt. Officially joining on the final day of the window, Arsenal had failed to win all three of their games since Jorginho signed, though he only played in two of them.

Jorginho made his debut off the bench in the 1-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park, unable to change the game, and was an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw with Brentford.

In midweek, Jorginho got his first start for the Gunners as a replacement for the injured Thomas Partey in midfield, but he struggled in the 3-1 defeat to Man City. It was a defeat that saw the Gunners drop behind Man City in the Premier League title race having led for so long, albeit on goal difference while also having a game in hand.

Arsenal were still in control of their destiny but some saw it as the turning point, and there were some jokes about Jorginho being a bad luck charm – mostly from opposition fans. They returned at half-time against Aston Villa.

Starting once again in Partey’s absence, Jorginho was part of a midfield three alongside Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka that struggled defensively in the first half. Inside five minutes the Gunners were behind, beaten by a ball over the top from Matty Cash to Ollie Watkins as Arsenal pushed on the attack.

Ollie Watkins puts Aston Villa 1-0 up after 5 minutes. Arsenal beaten by ball over top from Matty Cash with team pushed high on the attack

Bukayo Saka equalised with a rocket of a half volley 10 minutes later but Philippe Coutinho restored Villa’s lead before half-time after a neatly-worked team goal. And out came the Agent Jorginho tweets.

Things were looking against Arsenal as Villa had won all five games in which they had been leading at half-time in the Premier League this season, and the Gunners hadn’t recovered such a deficit outside of London since December 2009.

The title race appeared to be slipping from their control, and even Oleksandr Zinchenko’s equaliser with 30 minutes left, didn’t look like it was going to be good enough to spur them on. But then the game went into six minutes of injury time, mostly due to Emiliano Martinez’s time wasting.

In the third of those six minutes, the ball fell to Jorginho outside the Aston Villa box and he struck. The Italian isn’t known for his long-range efforts but he had scored once in the Premier League from a fair distance against Fulham for Chelsea, and this was a similar strike.

Jorginho’s effort hit the bar but with a bit of good fortune, bounced down and off Martinez’s head into the back of the net. It won’t be the Italian’s goal but Arsenal fans won’t care, given how he was lauded for the effort which brought bedlam to the travelling support. Gabriel Martinelli then made it 4-2 with a break from a Villa corner, which saw Martinez go up to try and make amends. But the afternoon belonged to Jorginho.