Arsenal need late goals to see off Aston Villa in 4-2 thriller


Michallik impressed by Arsenal's spirit in late win over Villa

Janusz Michallik praises Mikel Arteta's men for fighting to the end to claim a 4-2 win over Aston Villa.

Two stoppage-time goals helped Arsenal earn a thrilling 4-2 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday as Mikel Arteta's side got back on track in the race for the Premier League title.

Villa striker Ollie Watkins opened the scoring with a powerful, low finish inside five minutes. Arsenal hit back shortly after through a bullet strike from winger Bukayo Saka, but Villa retook the lead later in the first-half with a superb team move finished off midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

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Mikel Arteta's side pushed for an equaliser and found one near the hour mark when Oleksandr Zinchenko fired a low strike into the bottom right corner from the edge of the area.

Ahead of the thrilling finale both sides missed gilt-edged chances, Martin Odegaard pulling wide for Arsenal when he looked certain to score and Villa's Leon Bailey seeing a shot tipped onto the crossbar, before Arsenal struck to claim the points.

Arsenal twice came from behind against Aston Villa before scoring two late goals to claim a crucial win.
Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Arsenal faced suffering a fourth consecutive Premier League game without win but took the lead in stoppage time as January signing Jorginho's shot from the edge of the box struck the crossbar and hit goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez on the back of the head and found the net.

Gabriel Martinelli added a fourth almost immediately after when Martinez went up to Arsenal's box to attack a last-minute corner, leaving the Arsenal striker to counter-attack and tap into an empty net.

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The north London side are now two points clear at the top of Premier League over Manchester City, who slumped to a 1-1 draw over Nottingham Forest later on Saturday.

"From this game, we took an unbelievable lesson for all of us. We just need to believe until the very end that we can achieve everything," Zinchenko said.

"This group are such amazing people. They can achieve everything they want if we continue this way, if we keep fighting, keep believing. The reaction from all of us in the second half was perfect."

Arsenal boss Arteta said Saka needs protecting after the winger was fouled a number of times on Saturday.

"He's fine," Arteta said. "He got kicked quite a lot today again. But he's going to have to deal with that, not every week, but every three days and sometimes in training as well because it's his game and teams are not stupid and they want to stop him. That's why we need to protect him."

Meanwhile, the result leaves Villa with 28 points from 23 matches.

"It's one of those games where you have to look back and go over it but in the moment you don't really know what happened. A good team like Arsenal punished us at the end of the day. I don't know really what went wrong," Villa manager Unai Emery said.

The game, watched by Hollywood star Tom Hanks, was a disappointment for Emery, who had appeared to get his tactics right in the first half and would dearly have loved to secure victory over the team he once managed.

"I am frustrated, it's not good," he said, chiding goalkeeper Martinez for throwing caution to the wind and going forward at the end.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.