Ollie Watkins
Ollie Watkins has now scored six Premier League goals this season

Ollie Watkins said it was “unbelievable” to score against the team he supports as his double helped Aston Villa claim an impressive victory at Arsenal to move up to sixth in the Premier League.

The visitors took the lead midway through the first half when Bukayo Saka turned Matt Targett’s cross into his own net.

Watkins, who scored a hat-trick in a 7-2 win against champions Liverpool earlier this season, made it 2-0 with a header towards the end of the second half and scored his second soon after, slotting the ball under Bernd Leno after a quick break.

“As an Arsenal fan to score here at the Emirates is unbelievable,” Watkins told BBC Radio 5 live.

The 24-year-old, who has now scored six goals this season, added: “I think I have another level.

“In the second half you saw what I’m about, getting the ball, setting and spinning and making defenders run towards their own goal – hopefully the more I can do that the more goals I can score.”

The Gunners had gone into this game looking to build on their impressive 1-0 win against Manchester United last time out, but despite dominating possession they created very little, with Alexandre Lacazette going closest when he headed over Kieran Tierney’s cross.

Instead, it was Villa who always looked the most likely to score and they could have won by an even bigger margin.

The visitors had a goal ruled out inside the first minute when John McGinn thumped home Jack Grealish’s cross.

However, after a lengthy check by the video assistant referee, it was ruled out as Ross Barkley, who was in an offside position, was adjudged to have been in goalkeeper Leno’s way.

Egypt midfielder Trezeguet forced a good save from Leno early in the second half before the Arsenal keeper denied Grealish at the near post with a strong hand, while the Aston Villa captain also had an effort cleared off the line.

Defeat leaves an inconsistent Arsenal 11th in the table while the win maintained Villa’s 100% away record so far this season.

Villa back to their best after mini-slump

Villa made a superb start to this season with a run of four successive wins that included eye-catching victories against Liverpool and Leicester.

Back-to-back defeats against Leeds and Southampton – games in which they conceded a total of seven goals – raised concerns that their excellent start may have been a false dawn, but this performance will have significantly eased some of those fears.

Boss Dean Smith said before kick-off that he believed the team he had put out possessed the attacking quality to hurt Arsenal and so it proved, particularly in the second half when they looked capable of scoring with every break.

Villa have now won five of their seven games so far this season and having taken some significant scalps already, there is every reason for their fans to be optimistic.

“Coming here is tough, we knew we had to be at our best without the ball,” said Smith.

“What pleased me the most was we could’ve scored more. We created some great chances from our ball carrying skills with Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley and Trezequet and Ollie Watkins’ non-stop running.”

Misfiring Arsenal pay the price

Alexandre Lacazette
Lacazette had one of Arsenal’s better chances

This defeat will prove particularly concerning for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, who appeared to have rectified issues with a defence that conceded goals far too easily last season.

Going into the match they boasted the Premier League’s best defence, having conceded just seven goals in seven games, and it was the Gunners’ struggles at the other end of the pitch that Arteta would have been hoping to see an improvement in.

But once again the hosts lacked creativity and managed just two shots on target all game, neither of which posed any real danger to their former goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

As pleasing as the performance in the 1-0 win against Manchester United was, this result underlined Arsenal’s attacking problems when the defence has an off day.

Villa part of an elite club – the stats

  • Aston Villa have won each of their first three away league games in a season for the first time in their history.
  • This was Arsenal’s worst home league defeat since December 2019 versus Manchester City (also 3-0).
  • Only Chelsea (five) have won more away league games than Aston Villa (four) at the Emirates Stadium.
  • Aston Villa are the third side in Premier League history to win each of their first three away games in a season without conceding a goal, after Chelsea in 2005-06 and Manchester City in 2015-16.
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang failed to take a single shot today – it is the first time he’s played the full 90 minutes in a home Premier League match for Arsenal without attempting a shot.
  • Ollie Watkins has scored six goals in seven games for Aston Villa in the Premier League this season – only Dean Saunders (seven) and Dion Dublin (nine) have ever netted more in their first seven appearances for Villa in the competition.
  • Aged 19 years and 64 days, Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka became the fourth-youngest player to score an own goal in the Premier League, and youngest since Southampton’s Martin Cranie in May 2004 (17 years, 218 days versus Chelsea).
  • Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish has been directly involved in nine league goals this season (four goals and five assists) – only Spurs pair Harry Kane (15) and Son Heung-min (10) have been involved in more Premier League goals.

What next?

After the international break Arsenal travel to Leeds on Sunday, 22 November (16:30 GMT) while Aston Villa host Brighton on Saturday, 21 November (15:00 GMT).

Player of the match

GrealishJack Grealish

Aston Villa

  1. Squad number10Player nameGrealish

  2. Squad number11Player nameWatkins

  3. Squad number20Player nameBarkley

  4. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

  5. Squad number17Player nameTrézéguet

  6. Squad number26Player nameMartínez

  7. Squad number5Player nameMings

  8. Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz

  9. Squad number2Player nameCash

  10. Squad number18Player nameTargett

  11. Squad number4Player nameKonsa

  12. Squad number21Player nameEl Ghazi

Line-ups

Arsenal

  • 1Leno
  • 16Holding
  • 6dos Santos Magalhães
  • 3Tierney
  • 2Bellerín
  • 18ParteySubstituted forCeballosat 45′minutes
  • 25Elneny
  • 7Saka
  • 12WillianSubstituted forPépéat 65′minutes
  • 9LacazetteSubstituted forNketiahat 65′minutes
  • 14Aubameyang

Substitutes

  • 8Ceballos
  • 13Rúnarsson
  • 15Maitland-Niles
  • 19Pépé
  • 23David Luiz
  • 30Nketiah
  • 34Xhaka

Aston Villa

  • 26Martínez
  • 2Cash
  • 4Konsa
  • 5Mings
  • 18Targett
  • 6Douglas Luiz
  • 7McGinn
  • 17TrézéguetSubstituted forEl Ghaziat 88′minutes
  • 20Barkley
  • 10Grealish
  • 11Watkins

Substitutes

  • 3Taylor
  • 12Steer
  • 14Hourihane
  • 19Nakamba
  • 21El Ghazi
  • 27El Mohamady
  • 39Davis

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