Arsenal back to winning ways at Aston Villa

Arsenal survived Aston Villa’s second-half fightback to recover

from successive defeats with a 4-2 victory in the Premier League on


Andrey Arshavin scored one goal and set up Samir Nasri as

Arsenal led 2-0 at half time.

But Ciaran Clark volleyed Villa back into the game in the 52nd

and then headed in another after Marouane Chamakh scored a third

for Arsenal.

Arsenal made sure of the victory in stoppage time when Jack

Wilshere scored his first league goal for the north London


”We showed we’ve got good character – I’m happy to get my first

goal,” the 18-year-old Wilshere said. ”We need to improve our

home form and we’ll see where we are at the end of the


The Gunners had thrown away a 2-0 lead against Tottenham last

Saturday before losing 3-2 and were beaten 2-0 at Braga in the

Champions League on Tuesday.

”I think there’s always going to be that (uncertainty),

especially after last week,” Wilshere said.

It took Arsenal 39 minutes for its flowing football to be

rewarded with a goal.

After Lukasz Fabianski launched the ball from the Arsenal goal,

Villa defenders Luke Young and James Collins let it go past them on

the halfway line as they both tried to intercept it.

The ball landed on the left flank where Arshavin picked up

possession and charged forward before cutting into the penalty area

past defender Richard Dunne and shooting into the far corner of the

net despite Brad Friedel’s fingertips touching the ball.

From the restart, Villa gave away the ball and the visitors

could have gone further ahead. The ball was slipped through to

Nasri, who rounded Friedel but couldn’t find the net from a tight


Friedel’s right hand then prevented Chamakh making it 2-0 with a


But Nasri did find the net in the 45th minute, meeting

Arshavin’s corner on the edge of the box with a volley that took a

slight deflection off Young before landing in the net.

Nasri’s sixth goal of the season ensured Arsenal went in at half

time with a two-goal cushion for the second successive weekend.

But it looked like Villa would emulate Tottenham last Saturday

after pulling one back at the start of the second period.

Sebastien Squillaci failed to clear Barry Bannan’s cross

adequately, with his header reaching Clark, who brought the ball

down with his chest before volleying into the net in the 52nd.

Arsenal’s nerves eased four minutes later when Tomas Rosicky

threaded the ball into Chamakh’s path and the Morocco striker went

past Friedel before firing into the net.

But for all their domination, the Gunners’ frailties were

exposed again in the 71st. Dunne headed a corner onto Clarke, who

nodded it into the net via the crossbar with his back to goal.

In a nervy finish, Chamakh turned provider by crossing for

Wilshere to dive in with a header past Friedel.

”It was a strong performance against a Villa side that’s

dangerous,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. ”With 2-0 at half

time it happened again, it was quickly back to 2-1, but this time

we managed to find the resources to keep scoring goals.

”At the end of the day overall it was a good game and a good

performance from us.”

The victory provisionally took Arsenal top of the standings

ahead of Manchester United’s match against Blackburn later in the

day. Chelsa, which started the day on top, is at Newcastle on