A LITTLE under a year ago these two sides met in the FA Cup final. This season one club achieved their highest league finish in 11 years and the other has gone backwards.
Aston Villa have been on a downward spiral since that day at Wembley and their campaign has been nothing short of dreadful.
Relegation to the Championship has been on the cards for a while and based on their performances this season, it would be a major surprise if they bounce back up at the first attempt.
As for the Gunners, missing out on the league title to Leicester was a disappointment. The prospect of finishing below bitter rivals Tottenham for the first time in over 20 years would surely have been too much for supporters to handle.
News of Newcastle United’s two goals against Spurs in the first-half triggered the loudest cheer of the afternoon from supporters at Ashburton Grove.
Yet it looked like the players were affected by the situation. Finishing second in the Premier League now seemed like a genuine possibility but in a season where nothing has gone to plan for the Gunners, nobody was taking anything for granted.
The first 45 minutes against Villa mirrored that of a typical Arsenal showing at home this season.
Olivier Giroud, who has now rediscovered his scoring touch after previously going 15 without a goal, broke the deadlock as he was somehow left unmarked and was able to send a powerful header into the bottom corner.
However, he and his teammates took their foot off the gas and struggled to build from there and that allowed the visitors to grow in confidence as the half wore on. Jordan Ayew’s willingness to chase anything was proving to be a constant threat.
Then came news of Erik Lamela’s goal and a subdued atmosphere followed. Aleksandar Mitrovic’s red card did nothing to ease the nerves but the Magpies’ third at St James’s Park left Arsenal with no margin for error.
Giroud’s first Premier League hat-trick and a Mark Bunn own goal completed the scoring and all that was left was for the final whistle to confirm Arsenal’s dominance in north London, yet again.
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