Arsenal brushed Aston Villa aside with ease on Sunday afternoon to move above Tottenham in the league.
Aston Villa rolled up at the Emirates facing down a tough task.
An in-form Arsenal were looking for their fifth win in a row while Villa were merely hoping to score their 12th league goal of the season and the Gunners started brightly, clearly well up for the game and looking to build on their recent great results.
Villa, unfathomably, had decided to play a high line and it took only a few minutes for Arsenal to pick them apart as they strutted around the pitch with their newly-found high levels of self-belief.
After eight minutes a delightful flick by Mesut Ozil in the centre-circle over the head of the last Villa defender sent Olivier Giroud through and his first touch cushioned the ball perfectly. His second, however, was not so great, and while the ball stuck under his feet Arsenal fans held their breath. The Frenchman managed to dig the ball out from under him and dink it over Brad Guzan.
One nil to The Arsenal.
It was his sixth goal in his last seven Premier League games.
From there it was one-way traffic with Villa offering nothing going forward until the 41st minute when David Ospina saved smartly from their only attack of the half.
Dave then launched an Arsenal counter attack which saw Theo Walcott through with only one defender to beat only for the forward to drag the ball straight into the Villa man’s legs.
Between the Arsenal opener and Villa’s first chance, Santi Cazorla had managed to strike the post from the edge of the box but despite dominating the entire game, Guzan was only called upon to make one save – Arsenal proving wasteful in the final third.
Notably, Arsenal did have the ball in the net a second time as Ozil scored but the linesman, incorrectly, put his flag up after the ball hit the back of the net, his decision delayed as if he was watching the game on a dodgy stream.
Villa started the second half brightly with Christian Benteke getting a chance within the first minute of the restart, his effort going wide although the flag had gone up and Villa exerted some measure of pressure in the opening minutes.
It didn’t, however, take Arsenal long to find the form that had served them so well in the first half, weathering what could just about be described as a summer shower rather than a storm from Villa at the beginning of the half after deciding to sit back and soak up what little the visitors threw at them.
With ten minutes on the clock in the second, roles reversed as Giroud played Ozil through and the German slotted into the corner expertly for what should have been his second of the game.
Two nil and the game seemed safe with 35 still left to play.
Theo made it three eight minutes later as Arsenal carved Villa open with a move that started once again with David Ospina.
Playing the ball to Theo on the halfway line, Theo passed the ball and kept moving towards the goal. Picking it up again on the edge of the box from Santi’s pass, he curled it into the back of the net with ease.
Theo’s 50th Arsenal goal and Arsenal’s third of the day and not long after, a fourth almost came via the head of Giroud.
Attacking a Santi free-kick, he managed to clip the top of the bar after rising above everyone in the Villa defence.
The time for Arsenal changes arrived with 20 minutes left on the clock as Tomas Rosicky and Chuba Apom replaced Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud, the game safe and playing time afforded to the kid Arsenal are trying to convince to sign a new deal.
Showing his worth within minutes of coming on, Akpom was cleaned out by Guzan and Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot which was a surprise to most given how Taylor hadn’t really managed to make a massive mistake up until that point and this was his moment.
Santi stepped up and, although he hit it straight at the Villa keeper, Guzan couldn’t keep it out.
4-0 and it was time to rest Aaron Ramsey with 14 minutes still left the the game and give Mathieu Flamini some valuable shouting and pointing time.
The fifth was a thing of beauty, Hector Bellerin caressing the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the box – his first Arsenal goal capping another impressive display from him in the game.
Before the final whistle, Ospina was called into action and produced another great save.
In the end, it’s hard to argue that the scoreline flattered anyone but Aston Villa and was Arsenal’s biggest league win in two-and-a-half years.
Mesut Ozil was awarded Man of the Match.
Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Walcott, Cazorla, Ozil, Giroud
Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers, Flamini, Rosicky, Akpom
Guzan, Hutton, Okore, Clark, Richardson, Sanchez, Delph, Cleverley, Weimann, Gil, Benteke
Given, Baker, Bacuna, Sinclair, Agbonlahor, Westwood, Cissokho