Kevin MacDonald’s men built on their decent run of form, following up a win over Midlands rivals Wolves, with a comfortable 0-2 victory over Arsenal. The former caretaker manager took a strong squad with him to London with first team members such as Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj, Marc Albrighton, Barry Bannan and Nathan Delfouneso all in the starting XI. It was Delfouneso who broke the deadlock on the half hour mark stretching his impressive form in front of goal for the reserves and pushing himself into Gerard Houllier’s plans. With Villa severely lacking in fire power recently the talk has been of bringing in a new striker, one begs the question why are only proven goal-scorer at any level hasn’t been given a chance in the first team as of yet. The 19-year-old was supported superbly from either flank by Marc Albrighton and Samir Carruthers with the former setting crossing for the latter to head home Villa’s decisive second. An impressive performance, in a game which the away side dominated for much of the encounter.
Villa’s first chance came after 15 minutes when Albrighton’s cross from the left at the second attempt found Shane Lowry unmarked at the back post. The young Aussie could only volley wide of the mark after coming up from defence.
On 20 minutes a Bannan corner from the right was met by Delfouneso at the far post but the striker could only find the side netting as Villa looked to stamp their authority on the tie.
MacDonald’s men broke the deadlock on the half hour when Samir Carruthers produced an accurate centre from the left and Delfouneso managed a deft touch to steer it into the far corner. A great team move from Villa who earned themselves a deserved lead.
American keeper Brad Guzan was called into action for the first time 4 minutes later as he made a good save to deny Aneke from close range after Ozyakup’s cutback.
On the stroke of half time Villa added their second and decisive goal. Albrighton floated a ball over and Samir Carruthers timed his run perfectly to head into the corner. 0-2 at half-time and a thoroughly deserved cushion for the visitors.
Villa started the second half as they ended the first and just 2 minutes after the restart Albrighton hung up another cross to the back post. Jonathan Hogg leaped to meet it but his header sailed just wide of the far post.
Guzan saved again after 55 when Murphy found Henderson out on the left for Arsenal. The youngster looked to fire it in but Guzan collected the ball comfortably.
Villa had another chance on the hour mark as Delfouneso laid off to Bannan on the right corner of the area. The little Scot shaped to shoot but his effort was just too high and wide of goal.
Moments later Sunu raced through the middle for the host’s best chance of the game. He hit a powerful low drive but Guzan saved smartly with his legs.
A Carruthers corner on 70 was headed clear by Cruise but only as far as Hogg who sent the ball back into box where Derrick Williams could only manage to head just over.
The game petered out with Villa happy to protect their lead and a full time score of 0-2 represented a comprehensive win for Villa.
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