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Arsenal 3-2 Aston-Villa: Gunners produce stunning comeback as Aubameyang scores wonderful free-kick to see off plucky Villa

Unai Emery’s team were already trailing to a goal by John McGinn when Ainsley Maitland-Niles was dismissed for a second yellow card, four minutes behind half time. The home team equalised after the interval with a penalty by Nicolas Pepe and went behind again almost immediately to a goal by Wesley before fighting back in an atmosphere which fluctuated between mild-hysteria and full-blown panic.

Calum Chambers, on as a substitute to cover for Maitland-Niles, was the unlikely source of the goal to make it 2-2 before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted a free-kick from 20 yards to clinch the victory. Arsenal supporters erupted in delight but the mood swung wildly over the course of the game – just as it did at Watford when they allowed a two-goal lead to slip and settled for a point.

They jeered the home side off at half-time and then cheered when Emery decided to replace Granit Xhaka. Arsenal captain Xhaka was booed back to the bench with his team 2-1 down but the crowd roared their players off, and stayed behind for a chorus of “Sweet Caroline” after completing a comeback which lifts them back into the top four. It was a thoroughly fraught end to proceedings on a day which started with the positive inclusion of Bukayo Saka in the team.

Saka was rewarded for a sparkling Europa League performance at Eintracht Frankfurt with his first Premier League start and he was involved in the opening moments, jinking down the line and lifting a cross in from the left.

Maitland-Niles arrived to send it soaring over the goal on the half volley but here was a glimpse of Saka’s quality on the ball. There was another later in the first-half when he flashed a shot narrowly over from 20 yards. Much of the incident revolved around Maitland-Niles in the first half.

It was the first incident of a hectic first-half for Maitland-Niles who was sent off before the interval for two yellow cards. The first a trip from behind to stop Anwar El Ghazi in his tracks and the second for what was judged to be a dangerous tackle on Neil Taylor.

Sokratis and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both had bites at a corner without being able to produce an effort on target. Chambers was thwarted by the boot of Marvelous Nakamba but found the net moments later, seizing on a tame header by Tyrone Mings Aubameyang grabbed the winner three minutes later from a free-kick given for another foul by Engels, this time just outside the penalty area.

He has scored on his last eight starts at the Emirates Stadium and Arsenal have lost only once at home in 21 games, which makes you wonder what all the panic is about.

ajay
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