Match report and reaction


Jack Grealish’s reaction

“It was unbelievable. I think it was deserved as well. I thought we were outstanding today. Everything about us. Our game management, our defensive display and the way we counter-attacked. We probably should have got another goal but we’ll take a 1-0 win over Arsenal any day. It’s been a bit of a tense day. The ball is in our hands now but nothing is done yet. We have a massive game against West Ham on Sunday and we’ll be giving it our all again. We have trust in ourselves with the way we’ve been playing and training and we’ve got trust in the management.”

He is then asked whether this was his last game as a home player at Villa Park. “I’m not too sure at the moment. I have one aim and that’s to keep this club in the Premier League.”


Full-time: Villa 1-0 Arsenal

What a win for Villa! They’re out of the bottom three, climbing above Watford on goal difference. Trezeguet scored the precious winner here with a perfectly struck first-half shot. But this was was a splendid collective performance: Villa were composed, solid, aggressive and ambitious. That’s seven points from the last nine available. They go into the last day with survival in their own hands. Arsenal stay 10th. Here are the last day fixtures that matter most at the bottom of the table:

West Ham v Aston Villa

Arsenal v Watford

Everton v Bournemouth

Aston Villa’s Trezeguet and Matt Targett celebrate after the match.

Aston Villa’s Trezeguet and Matt Targett celebrate after the match. Photograph: Peter Powell/Reuters


90+3 min: Villa substitution: Lansbury on, McGinn off. Villa are nearly there…

90+2 min: Tierney over runs the ball on the left. Villa have a kickout. Smith wants to make a substitution, and more gum.

90 min: Konsa clears another Arsenal cross, then McGinn is taken out in midfield by Willock. Freekick to Villa. There will be at least four minutes added time. Tick tock, tick tock …

89 min: Reina watches a cross by Pepe all the way and rises to catch it. He punts it downfield to Davis, who holds it up well, allowing Villa to establish themselves in the opposing half, right where they want to be.

88 min: Pepe’s inswinging freekick is headed over by Mings. Corner to Arsenal. Tick tock, tick tock …

Mings heads the ball over his own bar.

Mings heads the ball over his own bar. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/AFP/Getty Images


87 min: Targett thinks he’s dispossessed Pepe cleanly at the corner of the box but the officials disagree. So Arsenal have a freekick in a threatening position, and Targett has a yellow card.

85 min: Targett makes an enterprising run forward and swaps clever passes with Davis. But then his cross from the byline is cut out.

83 min: Villa have been magnificently composed so far. Focused vigilance, steadfast ambition. They’re so very nearly where they want to be. Tick tock, tick tock …

82 min: Trezeguet flicks on a header to McGinn, who goes for a Hollywood volley from the corner of the box. But it‘s hammer horror that wobbles way wide.

80 min: McGinn rolls Kolasinac on the half-way line and sets off towards the Arsenal area … but Kolasinac pulls him down from behind, choosing to take a yellow card rather than let that attack unfold.

79 min: Arsenal substitution: Willock on, Soares off.

78 min: Grealish provides the ammunition for McGinn, who opens fire from 20 yards. It’s ferociously struck but Martinez bats it away.

77 min: Soares’ cross put behind by Targett. Pepe delivers the inswinger. Nketiah outjumps at the edge of the six-yard box and glances a header … against the post! It bounces up into the arms of Reina! Villa’s luck is in! Or is it? Tick tock, tick tock …

Eddie Nketiah shows his frustration after his header came back off the post.

Eddie Nketiah shows his frustration after his header came back off the post. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images


75 min: Grealish runs from his own half down the let, beating towo men and then slipping a pass through to Davis. The striker roves into the left-hand side of the box and aims a low shot towards the far corner. It whizzes past Martinez … and wide of the post! That could have sealed it for Villa!

Villa’s Keinan Davis should score but shoots wide.

Villa’s Keinan Davis should score but shoots wide. Photograph: Peter Powell/AFP/Getty Images


73 min: Villa substitutions: Davis and Nakmba on, Samatta and Hourihane off. Davis can hold up the ball much better than Samatta, and Nakamba is more solid defensively than Hourihane.

71 min: Douglas Luiz will have to watch himself from now on: he’s collected a yellow card for a second strategic foul.

70 min: Dean Smith is chomping on gum on the sidelines. He knows how close his team are to rescuing their season. But he also knows how often they’ve chucked away leads late on. Tick tock, tick tock….

68 min: Pepe curls the ball from deep towards Aubameyang, who jumps to meet it but can’t keep his header down from 10 yards. “I can see where Jimsey (50 min) is coming from, but I can tell him that, as a Watford fan, I would absolutely kill for a sliver of hope right now,” sobs Mac Millings.

65 min: Douglas Luiz curtails an arsenal counter-attack. But he did so illegally, according to the ref, who rules that his challenge on Pepe was a foul. No matter, the freekick comes to nothing.

63 min: Tierney releases Aubameyang with a super pass down the left. The Gabonese dribbles into the box and tries to dab the ball to Nketiah at the edge of the six-yard box. But it’s not accurate enough. Villa can exhale.

Dean Smith and John Terry watch from the stand.

Dean Smith and John Terry watch from the stand. Photograph: Matthew Ashton/AMA/Getty Images


62 min: Soares belts in a cross from the right. Mings hooks it clear and gets clobbered by Nketiah in the process. No malevolent intent but an obvious foul.

61 min: Lacazette clips Grealish’s ankles from behind. Yellow card.

60 min: Arsenal substitutions: Pepe and Tierney on, David Luiz and Saka off. That heralds a switch to a back four, with Kolasinac partnering Holding in the middle.

58 min: This has been an accomplished performance so far from Villa. They’re been disciplined and shown little sign of nerves so far. And they’ve had the gumption to probe for a second goal rather than sit on their precarious lead. But there’s still over half an hour to go ….

56 min: Grealish feeds McGinn in the box. The Scot clips the ball across the face but there’s no one there. Hourihane retrieves it on the left and bends in a cross thats cleared behind for another corner. It’s not defended well by Arsenal and Guilbert gets off a shot from 12 yards. Which is deflected behind for yet another corner.

55 min: Konsa does well to block a shot by Aubameyang after a bungled attempted clearance by Mings.

53 min: David Luiz is penalised for shunting Grealish to the ground wide on the right. He then tells the linesman off by showcasing knowledge of some of the most popular English swear words. Who says footballers are out of touch? “Not sure if you’re watching this on Sky (although I assume you are), but what an engaging pundit Micah Richards is,” writes Charles Robinson. “Not only is he knowledgeable and insightful, but he’s damn funny too. He had the Sky punditry team in stitches during the half-time break, and it’s not the first time. He’s fast becoming one of my favourite analysts.”

51 min: Saka lifts a shot high over the bar from 10 yards after a cross from the right by Soares.

50 min: Arsenal impose pressure for the first time this half, with Ceballos leading the charge into the Villa box. But the defence holds firm and Guilbert eventually whacks the ball to safety. “It really is the hope that kills you,” pants Jimsey. “So many times this season I’ve seen Villa drop leads, fully expecting a loss from what would be three vital points. Arsenal don’t look sharp at all, they really are there for the taking.”

49 min: That last corner was wasted.

48 min: Douglas Luiz was excellent in the first half – in fact, he has been Villa’s best player since the resumption of the season – and he’s started this half well too, winning the ball of Ceballos in midfield to lay the foundation of another attack. Holding is froced into the concession of another corner.

47 min: Of the 10 matches in which Villa have been leading at half-time this season, they have won 5 and lost 4. Another goal would increase their chances of embellishing that stat today: Hourihane tries to create one from a corner, but David Luiz heads clear before Mings can connect with it.

46 min: Arsenal substitution: Xhaka on, Torreira off, presumably to avoid him being sent off later.

“For Arsenal, creativity is looking at the kind of premium you only get on expensive phone lines,” rings in Charles Antaki. “Only Ceballos looks capable of an incisive pass, but that only after an unnecessary amount of Guendouzi-style busy but aimless dribbling. Bring on Xkaka and Pepe, if Cazorla and Pires aren’t available.”

Half-time: Villa 1-0 Arsenal

What a satisfying half for Villa. Dean Smith spoke of his pride earlier this week that Villa’s “expected goals conceded” rate has been below 1 in every match since the restart, apart from the defeat by Manchester United. If I knew how to do that sort of calculation I’d prove that it’s definitely below that rate again here, as Arsenal have been kept at arm’s length for the entire half. But better than that, Villa have scored an actual goal! Trezeguet swept it home in fine style after a corner by Hourihane. Continue as they’ve gone so far and Villa are heading out of the bottom three! A huge half is coming up for them.

45 min: McGinn and Luiz launch a counter-attack from the edge of their own area. When Grealish receives it wide on the left, he carries it to the corner of the box and then fizzes a wicked shot just over the bar!

44 min: Now Arsenal have a corner, won by Nketiah, whose cross was put behind by Luiz. Konsa takes command to head the corner away.

42 min: Saka cuts out a cross by Guilbert, at the expense of another corner. Trezeguet gets on the end of it but his header is weak.


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