BIRMINGHAM, DECEMBER 10 (IANS): An early goal from John McGinn earned Aston Villa a club-record 15th home league win in a row, burnishing their title credentials with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal, three days after beating Manchester City by the same score.
Saturday night's win took Villa up to third, a point off their vanquished opponents, and two points off new league leaders Liverpool. On the other hand, a second defeat of the season for Arsenal leaves them second on 36 points, one above Villa.
Villa started like a train at Villa Park and this time their early pressure paid off as they took the lead in the seventh minute.
Leon Bailey, their hero against City, drove into the box, and cut the ball back to McGinn near the penalty spot. The Scot swivelled before rifling the ball past David Raya.
After Villaâ€™s dream start, Arsenal started to find a way through and came close on a number of occasions in the first half, with four shots on target, Premier League reports.
First Martin Odegaardâ€™s low-driven shot went agonisingly wide. Then, in the 36th minute Gabriel Martinelli ran through on goal and lifted the ball over Emiliano Martinez, but Diego Carlos came to the rescue, chasing back to clear the ball before it went in.
Then Gabriel Jesus played the ball back to Odegaard near the penalty spot, but the captainâ€™s shot was telegraphed and well saved by Martinez.
Arsenal started the second half brightly and almost scored thanks to confusion in the Villa defence. Martinez failed to claim a corner swung in by Bukayo Saka and the fumbled ball hit Ollie Watkins and then the post before Villa cleared.
As Villa players started to tire, Arsenal piled on the pressure. Havertz burst through the left and crossed the ball to Odegaard, but he sidefooted wide.
Amid this pressure, Villa showed an occasional threat on the break and Watkins forced Raya into action in the 68th minute after substitute Moussa Diaby had broken away.
Unai Emeryâ€™s second-half substitutions breathed new life into Villa to slow down Arsenalâ€™s advances. In the second minute of stoppage time Arsenal thought they had got their equaliser through Kai Havertz, but the bundled goal was ruled out for handball by the German in the build-up.