The Spaniard had given the Gunners an early lead before Andreas
Weimann levelled on 68 minutes, but popped up again to score a late
winner with just minutes remaining
The visitors, meanwhile, were still without
skipper Ron Vlaar but welcomed Gabriel Agbonlahor back into the line-up
as a left winger.
From the off, it was all Arsenal. The hosts
controlled possession with palpable ease and created the first chance of
the game after just two minutes, with Jack Wilshere forcing an early
save from Brad Guzan.
And the Gunners did not have to wait long to open the scoring as Cazorla
found possession minutes later, tucking away an easy finish at the
second time of asking. Nathan Baker had blocked the Spaniard’s initial
attempt at a cross but Cazorla showed no hesitation in reacting first to
But Villa responded instantly, mustering their first
chance of the game after nine minutes as Charles N’Zogbia fed Agbonlahor
on the edge of the box, only for the 26-year-old to fire his shot
straight at Wojciech Szczesny.
After the Gunners’ emphatic start,
a cricket score had looked a possibility but Villa were the side
looking more and more likely to score. Close to the half-hour mark, the
visitors enjoyed their best chance yet as N’Zogbia was first denied by
Szczesny before Andreas Weimann then had his shot cleared by Per
Theo Walcott curled a left-footed shot over the bar
minutes later, before Giroud was then denied by Guzan once again as
half-time approached.But while the Gunners were playing like a
side chasing Champions League qualification, the visitors were
counterattacking with the hunger typical of a side fighting for vital
points to keep them in the Premier League.
And on 68 minutes, Villa made their sharpness on the break tell as Weimann
ended a fantastic move with a strike from range – all of which started
from an Arsenal corner. Szczesny could have done better between the
sticks but it was the speed at which the visitors broke that really
caught the home side off-guard.
With the equaliser came tension
at the Emirates. The home crowd were anxious and Wenger knew they would
settle for nothing less than a win.
The Frenchman responded by replacing Jenkinson with Lukas Podolski in an extremely attacking move. Yet it was Cazorla
who again made the difference late on as the Spaniard found himself
unmarked on the penalty spot after a Monreal cross to fire home the
winner for his side. The Spaniard had given the Gunners an early
lead after five minutes, before Andreas Weimann equalised for the
visitors mid-way through the second-half.
But Cazorla was at the
ready to slot home with just minutes to go as the Gunners closed the gap
on fourth-placed Tottenham to one point, extending Villa’s miserable
run to just one win in 10 games.
Wenger made four changes from
his side’s 3-1 humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich on Tuesday, with
Nacho Monreal returning at left-back and Carl Jenkinson replacing the
injured Bacary Sagna. Giroud was also re-installed to lead the line,
while Abou Diaby came in for Aaron Ramsey.