Arsenal ended a good week by going top of the Premier League courtesy of a win at Aston Villa that leaves Remi Garde’s side further adrift at the bottom.
The Gunners, who reached the last 16 of the Champions League in midweek, led through Olivier Giroud’s early penalty. Aaron Ramsey then started and finished a superb counter-attack to reward the away side’s first-half dominance. Jack Grealish returned to action for Villa, who improved after the break but wasted a number of good chances.
Villa’s defeat, coupled with positive results for some of their rivals, means they are now eight points from safety with only six points from 16 games.
In sharp contrast, Arsene Wenger’s side have won 10 league games this season and lead the division, a point ahead of Manchester City, who beat Swansea on Saturday, and Leicester, who face champions Chelsea on Monday night.
With boos ringing around the stadium, Giroud coolly side-footed home his 14th goal of the season to become the seventh player to score 50 Premier League goals for Arsenal, achieved in 113 games. The second goal epitomised Ramsey’s cause for being central to Arsenal’s midfield when he won the ball in his own half courtesy of a well-timed tackle before charging forward to overload the Villa defence and receive Mesut Ozil’s unselfish pass – the German’s 13th assist of the campaign – for a simple finish into an unguarded net.