Premier League: Arsenal back on top with Villa victory


ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has told his players to forget what is going on elsewhere and focus on winning after they returned to the top of the Premier League last night.

Two first-half goals in less than a minute from midfielder Jack Wilshere and striker Olivier Giroud were enough to earn the Gunners a fourth straight league win at the end of a weekend where the division’s top seven teams all earned three points.

If Arsenal are to end their 10-year wait for a Premier League title they must hold off the challenges from Manchester City and Chelsea who are in equally impressive form.

But Wenger is adamant his team’s focus must simply remain on events in north London.

“Let’s take care of our performances, then go forwards get points and see if we can make a difference with the other teams,” said the 64-year-old.

“In the first half it was more about playing, the second was more about fighting. In the second half they made it very physical, put balls into the box with three forwards.

“We needed a good resilient performance in the second half. Overall we’ve shown both sides to our game.

“In the first half our passing gave them many problems and we could have scored one or two more. Overall I must say Villa did fight until the end. It was a vital win.”

Arsenal took the lead on 34 minutes when left-back Nacho Monreal, who later left the field with a suspected broken metatarsal, crossed for Wilshere to stroke in his fifth goal of the season.

Then, just 17 seconds after the restart, the Gunners doubled their advantage.

Villa midfielder Fabian Delph conceded possession to Wilshere, who floated a pass into the path of Giroud. The France striker beat defender Matthew Lowton inside the box then fired in a low angled drive.

The home side huffed and puffed in the second half and got their reward when striker Christian Benteke scored his first goal since September, heading in Lowton’s deep cross at the far post.

Finding an equaliser proved too great a task for Villa though, who are close to signing striker Grant Holt from Wigan, with a tame header from Benteke proving insufficient.