Somehow, we’ve done it. Arsenal have finished second in the Premier League, above Spurs again.
As predicted (or not, depending on your current level of pessimism) Arsenal started on the front foot with some fantastic passing between Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez. Within minutes, we had our first corner, as well as a one-on-one between Villa’s goalkeeper, Mark Bunn, and our Chilean forward.
In the fifth minute, a perfect cross from Nacho Monreal found Olivier Giroud and the big Frenchman headed it into the net.
Arsenal continued to pile on the pressure as news broke that Manchester United’s match against Bournemouth was called off due to a suspicious package found at Old Trafford. Soon after, Manchester City went 1-0 up away to Swansea.
Although Villa managed to get in behind us thanks to some strange defending, luckily we had Koscielny there to mop up the ball and pass it out.
The visitors continued to give it a bit of a go but their balls were wayward, poor or directly at Petr Cech.
The game calmed down compared to it’s first frantic few minutes, although Arsenal still had the lion’s share of possession. Having Cazorla and Wilshere back in midfield made a huge difference to our ability to control the ball and dictate play.
News that Newcastle had gone 1-0 ahead of Spurs, putting us into second, started rippling across the ground.
Although our intensity had dropped, we methodically passed the ball between us, running into space and looking for a chance to slot the ball through and score. We were guilty of taking out time too much though, and passed when we should have shot a few times.
Half an hour gone and still 1-0, Wilshere had a great chance one-on-one with the goalkeeper but scuffed the ball.
The crowd then roared into life as the Magpies put themselves 2-0 up against Spurs and, just before half time, the Swans equalised against City.
Arsenal came out for the second half with renewed energy but we were still incredibly reluctant to actually shoot from outside the idea, which is a shame since Villa were giving us acres of space. With Newcastle still 2-0 up against Spurs, we needed to finish the job at our end and 1-0 didn’t feel comfortable enough.
Villa were still very much in the game at this point. Despite us having the vast majority of the ball, they continued to get in the right positions and all it could have taken was one shot on target. Especially when we weren’t looking particularly deadly in the final third and looked sloppier by the minute.
The tension in the Emirates’ crowd rose further as Spurs pulled one back against Newcastle and the Magpies were then reduced to 10 men.
As we continued to squander chance after chance, Newcastle scored a penalty to put them 3-1.
Better late than never, Giroud swept in a second goal and then quickly completed his hat-trick.
News that the Magpies had gone four and then 5-1 up against Spurs broke just before Arteta came on for his final game for Arsenal.
Arteta then scored his final goal for Arsenal to put us 4-0 up.
Arsenal finish second. Happy days.