Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 1

Playing late on Monday, Arsenal were under pressure to win and regain their top spot in the premier league standings. A win was needed as the Gunners visited Aston Villa. Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal a two-goal lead at half-time but they had to dig in after Christian Benteke pulled a goal back for Villa. Villa were booed off at half-time after a limp display, and Arsenal looked certain to take all three points up until the final 25 minutes. Villa had spent much of the game chasing shadows and being outclassed but finally then rallied after the introduction of forward Andreas Weimann and managed to give the visitors some anxious moments when Christian Benteke scored his first goal since 14 September with a diving header 14 minutes from time.

The Gunners held on for what was a vital, and deserved, win as they extended an unbeaten record at Villa Park to 15 matches stretching back to December 1998. Wenger added that he believes Wilshere is now getting back to his best after playing a key role in the win. The England midfielder has seen his career interrupted by injuries, but he scored Arsenal’s opener then set up Giroud in the space of a minute in the first half as Arsenal secured the win that puts them back on top. If Wenger had any complaints on a night when the Gunners went a point clear at the top of the table, it will be that they did not turn their dominance into more goals and somehow allowed Villa the chance of an unlikely point in an uncomfortable spell near the end.

There was mixed injury news for Wenger. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returned as a late substitute for the first time since the opening day defeat by Villa. He replaced Tomas Rosicky, who sustained a nose injury in an aerial challenge with Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Arsenal will also check defender Nacho Monreal on Tuesday to see if he has a broken metatarsal. Arsenal now have 48 points after 21 games played with Manchester City just a point behind and Chelsea sitting at #3 with 46 points.

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