Premier League: Martinelli’s Strike Keeps Arsenal Top
By Chidi Nwoke, Abuja.
Arsenal extended its perfect start to the Premier League season to five games after a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa, courtesy of Gabriel Martinelli’s strike at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
The hosts started with a front three of Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka, while the visitors had Emiliano Buendia, Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey in attack.
In the first half, Arsenal came out firing and Saka was denied a penalty early on, after being dragged to the ground by Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings. A VAR check sided with referee Robert Jones and no penalty was awarded, much to the displeasure of Saka and the Arsenal fans in the stadium.
Arsenal continued to push forward and created chances through Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Magalhaes, but the Aston Villa defence were up to the task. In a turn-of-events, Aston Villa goalkeeper Martinez then failed to deal with a shot from Granit Xhaka, pushing the ball straight into the path of Gabriel Jesus, who made no mistake.
Aston Villa somehow survived another goalmouth scramble before Argentina international goalkeeper Martinez showed just how good he can be. He tipped the ball behind after a brilliant Martinelli volley, while at full stretch.
In the second half, Martinez saved well from an Odegaard free-kick. As the Gunners looked to extend its lead, Aston Villa coach Steven Gerrard turned to his bench and introduced Philippe Coutinho and Douglas Luiz.
Luiz was instantly involved as he whipped in a corner that flew directly into the net for the equaliser, with Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale caught off his guard by a Villa defender all over him to distract him. Ramsdale’s call for a foul was turned away by a VAR check as the goal stood.
The equaliser then turned out to be a wake-up call for Arsenal, moving through gears as they regained the lead three minutes later.
Substitute Takehiro Tomiyasu laid the ball off for Saka in the Villa penalty box, and his cross found Martinelli at the back post. The Brazilian was unmarked and fired in a shot, beating Martinez with the right technique to send the ball home.
Arsenal saw out the remainder of the contest and extend their winning run to five wins in five games. The win means the Gunners remain at the top of the Premier League table with a perfect record, as Manchester City creep behind after beating Nottingham Forest 6-0, with star striker Erling Haaland scoring a hattrick.
Steven Gerrard’s side slipped to a fourth defeat, heaping more pressure on the former Liverpool midfield maestro.
For the second home game in a row, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal showed determination and strength to seal the three points after they had come from behind to beat Fulham four days earlier.
Premier League results
AFC Bournemouth 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa
Manchester City 6-0 Nottingham Forest
West Ham United 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool 2-1 Newcastle United.