Football Features

Aston Villa get their “revenge” on Arsenal to secure record-breaking home win

By Harry Edwards

Published: 19:58, 9 December 2023

Aston Villa moved just two points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool thanks to their record-breaking win over Arsenal.

Who wants to go to Villa Park? This season alone, Aston Villa have won 12 of their 13 home games across all competitions, with the only failure a defeat to Everton in the third round of the EFL Cup.

In midweek, Manchester City were the 11th team to try and fail, with Leon Bailey scoring the only goal of the game as Aston Villa compiled the misery on Pep Guardiola’s side. A dent in their title hopes perhaps, more hopefuls travelled to Villa Park this weekend, with Arsenal looking to keep their charge going and return top of the table.

There was reason for Arsenal to be optimistic. The Gunners were the last side to beat Aston Villa at Villa Park in the Premier League, with the Villans winning their next 14 home matches.

But buoyed by the win over Man City, Aston Villa started fast and they were ahead after just seven minutes. It was a well-worked goal made from the midfield, with Boubacar Kamara, Youri Tielemans and John McGinn all involved.

Kamara had the ball from deep and eventually played it to Tielemans, who slotted in Leon Bailey. The Jamaican, fresh from his winner against Man City, took the defender to the byline and cut the ball back neatly to McGinn, whose touch, turn and finish was calm under the pressure of Ben White. It was McGinn’s fourth league goal of the season, already more than he had ever previously managed in a single Premier League campaign.

History was on Aston Villa’s side, avoiding defeat in their last 20 matches when scoring the opening goal and unbeaten in their last 14 when leading at half-time. But, again, their was reason for Arsenal to be optimistic. The last time Aston Villa failed to hold onto such victories was that 4-2 win for Arsenal in February, won thanks to two injury-time goals.

“Well it’s a great place to play football. When the fans are behind you like that, it’s very, very difficult for away teams to come and play,” McGinn told Sky Sports after the game.

“I remember from the pre-match team talk, the manager made us aware that the last team to beat us here were Arsenal.

“That game certainly stung us, stung him personally. So today was a little bit of revenge. But we’re really playing well at home, long may it continue. And if we keep our home form up then hopefully we can achieve something this season that will eclipse last season.”

Arsenal were a lot more troubling than Man City too. While Villa restricted Man City to just two shots in midweek while having 22 themselves, Arsenal outshot their hosts — though it was a lot closer at 12 to 10.

The Gunners were wasteful with their chances, hitting the target five times from their 12 efforts, without truly testing Emiliano Martinez in the Aston Villa goal. On top of three Big Chances missed, they also passed up a number of opportunities around the opposition box, blocked out by a resolute Villa defence.

Aston Villa were happy to sit and soak up the pressure, with 39.05% possession — their fourth-lowest of the season so far — and had their moments on the counter though they couldn’t add to their advantage.

Arsenal thought they had equalised in the 90th minute when Kai Havertz bundled the ball over the line, but the referee disallowed it for handball — a decision eventually confirmed after a long VAR check.

But Villa held on, winning 15 consecutive home league games for the first time in their 149-year history. Not only that, it carried on Villa’s wonderful 2023, truly highlighting the work Unai Emery has been doing at Villa Park.

Since the start of the year, only Manchester City (83) have won more points in the Premier League than Aston Villa’s 78. Fittingly, Aston Villa have played 38 games so far this year, and their points total in this period would have been enough to win the title in the 1996/97 campaign.

But don’t mention that around McGinn!

“I’m banning the T word!” McGinn joked.

“It’s gameweek 16 so there’s a long long way to go and we respect everyone round about us, who have been in these positions for years, they’re so experienced. We’re newbies. Can we keep it up?I don’t know, we’ll see. Hopefully.”

Only Man City (26) have won more games than Villa’s 24, but Emery’s side stand alone with 16 home victories in 2023.

Villa have also scored 69 goals, the fifth-placed, but only Man City (34) and Newcastle (39) have conceded fewer than Villa’s 41 among the Premier League’s ever-present teams.