Oleksandr Zinchenko said Arsenal had learned an “unbelievable lesson” after his classy strike launched an extraordinary comeback to send the title contenders three points clear at the top of the table with an enthralling 4-2 win at Aston Villa.
Full-back Zinchenko drilled in from long range as Arsenal drew level for a second time on a day when they were desperate not to drop more points, then Jorginho gave the visitors the lead for the first time with a stunning strike in added time that bounced in off Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez before substitute Gabriel Martinelli added a last-gasp tap-in.
Clinical finishes from Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho had threatened to condemn the visitors to a second setback in three days following their defeat at home to Manchester City on Wednesday that handed top spot to the reigning champions.
“We just need to believe until the very end that we can achieve everything,” Zinchenko told BT Sport. “This group has such amazing people and we can achieve everything we want. We just need to keep going, keep fighting and believe that we can do this.”
Watkins glided past William Saliba and beat Aaron Ramsdale with a low drive for the opening goal after Matty Cash had dispossessed Zinchenko, only for Bukayo Saka to reply 11 minutes later with a splendid first-time half-volley from inside the penalty area.
Coutinho completed a slick Villa move to fire in his first goal of the season shortly after the half-hour mark – much to the likely glee of Manchester City, whose victory against their key title rivals had taken them to the summit on goal difference.
Villa head coach Unai Emery, who led Arsenal during a brief reign between 2018 and 2019, lost his unbeaten record against the Gunners during his managerial career despite a confident display from his side, who had lost 4-2 to Leicester City in their last home outing.
Arsenal had far more possession in dangerous areas but spent much of the game struggling to capitalise on their chances, with England defender Tyrone Mings – who signed a new deal at Villa Park on Friday – diverting a cross against his own crossbar in a vital last-ditch intervention from Ben White’s first-half cross.
Eddie Nketiah also hit the crossbar during the second half, looping a header on to the top of the frame of the goal from Ben White’s cross before Zinchenko drew his side level, and substitute Leon Bailey smashed a shot against the woodwork via Arsenal goalkeeper Ramsdale’s fingertips during the closing stages.
The result meant Villa remained in 11th, three points behind Chelsea and three above Crystal Palace.
Arsenal, who ended a run of four games in all competitions without a win, had played the same number of games as City before the reigning champions’ trip to Nottingham Forest later on Saturday.
Gunners grab late win
Arsenal’s strong performance in their late 3-1 defeat to City at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday did not exempt them from inevitable questions about how they would respond to losing first place for the first time since August.
A defeat at Manchester United in December had been their only loss before Pep Guardiola’s side swept past them, and head coach Mikel Arteta had talked up their resilience and enthusiasm to reclaim supremacy in the table ahead of this game.
Watkins’ ruthless strike was a dreadful start that forced them to rally before they had really had time to settle, making the presence of Bukayo Saka vital.
The England livewire cut a frustrated figure for much of the first half, limping after a challenge from Alex Moreno and causing the Villa wideman to yelp in pain when he returned the favour with a robust tackle later in the half.
Arsenal’s most frequent source of inspiration was booed by some home fans but scored another terrific goal when he capitalised on a poor headed clearance by Tyrone Mings to fizz a first-time finish past Emi Martinez from inside the penalty area.
Saka was at the centre of a skirmish involving several players after three challenges in succession involving six players before the break, then needed prolonged treatment after having his achilles raked.
Despite the patching-up he might be receiving in a dressing room Zinchenko and Jorginho were eager to celebrate in, Saka now knows that he has 17 direct goal involvements this season, putting him only one behind Tottenham hotshot Harry Kane.
The sole player above Saka and Kane is Erling Haaland, whose 30 involvements attest to his outlandishly productive campaign. Saka’s contribution to the ball hitting the opposition net in 15 of his last 20 top-flight games reiterates how important he is to Arteta – and Arsenal fans will be hoping there is little lasting damage from this bruising, victorious encounter.
‘We needed a magic moment’
Jorginho acknowledged that Arsenal had shared some frank conversations at half-time after a poor first-half performance.
Watkins tormented Arsenal from the left at times, scoring his fourth goal in as many games and later describing Jorginho’s goal as “lucky”.
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta said his discussions with his players had been about “raising standards”.
“We have to take some lessons from today because, especially in the first half, we didn’t do all the simple things right,” said Arteta after consigning Villa to a somewhat unfortunate third straight defeat.
“We gave the ball away, were too open and gave that left channel to Watkins, one-against-one. In the second half, we dominated.
“We needed a magic moment and Jorginho produced it. That’s probably not his biggest strength but the boys really wanted it.
“When you want to be at the top, you’re going to have to win games in many different ways. To do it, especially against this team in this stadium – credit to the boys. Training really well on Monday is what we have to do.”
Arsenal’s next game comes at Leicester on February 25, while Villa are at Everton on the same day.
The Sporting News followed the match live and providing live score updates and commentary.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal live updates, highlights from Premier League
Full-time – Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal
And breathe! Gabriel Martinelli scores a 98th-minute tap-in after Arsenal break from an Aston Villa corner that home goalkeeper Emi Martinez had gone up for, but the 4-2 scoreline – and the delirium on the Arsenal bench – doesn’t tell the full story of this enthralling game.
Our report at the top of this page shortly, however, will attempt to do more justice to it. Thanks for following our live blog!
90 mins +4 – Aston Villa 2-3 Arsenal
Goal given. If that infamous decision at Brentford felt like an important moment in the title race, so will this.
Just don’t suggest to Mikel Arteta that it redeems that incident.
90 mins +2 – GOAL: Aston Villa 2-3 Arsenal (Jorginho)
Oh, I say – that, Jorginho, is simply magnificent. Arsenal’s fans, bench and players go wild. Gutting for Villa!
This was a sensational long-range strike that rebounded off the crossbar and hit the back of the floored Emi Martinez. Inevitably, there’s a VAR check.
90 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
There will be six minutes of added time, which is a lifetime in the context of this hugely eventful game. At least one more twist?
87 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Jorginho threads a pass onto the run of Bukayo Saka inside the penalty area on the right, who bobbles a low shot straight at Martinez.
84 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Emi Martinez is booked for timewasting. To say that’s been coming is a bit like predicting the sun will set this evening.
83 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Martin Odegaard swings an inviting right-wing free-kick on to the head of Gabriel, whose response lacks conviction and floats over the bar.
We’re going to have 10 chances in the remaining minutes, at this rate.
81 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Now Villa go even closer! Leon Bailey takes a delightful touch on the sideline on the left, then runs the length of the half before smacking in a thunderous strike that Aaron Ramsdale tips on to the woodwork and away, which was almost certainly the most the goalkeeper could have done, given the force of the effort.
This is a thriller!
76 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Martin Odegaard really should have put Arsenal back in front!
Eddie Nketiah’s tenacity wins him space inside Villa’s penalty area on the left, sliding a low pass into the path of his captain in front of goal, who curls his low effort well wide.
You can imagine what Mikel Arteta’s reaction to that was. Odegaard sinks to his knees.
71 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Gabriel Martinelli runs into a crowd of Villa players outside the penalty area as Arsenal try to launch a counter-attack.
70 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Leon Bailey has a run at Oleksandr Zinchenko on the right. The full-back smashes the danger behind, and Gabriel heads the delivery away.
68 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Gabriel Martinelli’s first meaningful contribution is to just about reach the ball on the byline inside the penalty area on the right and send a deflected cross into the diving Emi Martinez’s arms.
67 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Now Arsenal make a change: Gabriel Martinelli, who’s been almost ever-present for the Gunners this season, replaces Leandro Trossard.
65 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Villa make a couple of substitutions. Douglas Luiz, who doesn’t look happy with the decision, and Emi Buendia make way for Leander Dendoncker and Leon Bailey.
Mild stroppiness aside, both of the departees can be satisfied with their contributions.
62 mins – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal
Eddie Nketiah does well to earn himself a sight of goal inside the Villa penalty area on the right, lifting his finish over the crossbar.
This is an entertainingly open game and Arsenal have the momentum right now.
GOAL – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal (Oleksandr Zinchenko 61)
All four goals have been peaches in this game and now Oleksandr Zinchenko joins in the set for the highlights reel!
Martin Odegaard plays the ball to the full-back on the edge of the penalty area to the right of centre, and he drills a glorious daisy-cutter beyond Emi Martinez’s dive, beating the goalkeeper with its speed.
60 mins – Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
There’s a scramble inside the Villa penalty area. Bukayo Saka wants a penalty area Emi Buendia tussles with him, and the ball goes behind for a corner.
59 mins – Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
Douglas Luiz bursts through the centre and releases Ollie Watkins with a low diagonal ball that has the potential to put the scorer through on goal.
William Saliba does brilliantly to shift Watkins away from the penalty area, seeing off the danger.
56 mins – Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
Eddie Nketiah loops a header against the top of the crossbar! Mikel Arteta has his head in his hands after Ben White reaches the byline on the right inside the penalty area and lifts a cross in front of goal, where the striker gets between two defenders to send his effort in the opposite direction.
55 mins – Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
Play goes on. The Arsenal fans pipe up with a few chants. Aston Villa will be happy with how this half has started, partly because their opponents look short on ideas.
53 mins – Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
Not to make this the Bukayo Saka show, but here’s how his first half looked. No wonder Arsenal want the man who’s now got heavy strapping on one leg to continue.
50 mins – Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
Tyrone Mings catches Bukayo Saka down the back of his achilles. Saka needs treatment and looks annoyed – there has to be some doubt over how much longer he’ll be able to carry on in this game.
47 mins – Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
Bukayo Saka thwacks an awful shot into the crowd, who respond in kind. The England international grits his teeth.
46 mins – Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
No changes for either side at the break. Villa will move level with 10th-placed Chelsea if they win this game. For Arsenal, as you will doubtless incessantly hear if they do not turn this around, the implications in the title race are potentially critical.
Half-time – Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
A roar of appreciation goes up as Emi Martinez catches Bukayo Saka’s cross from a free-kick from the right, then Stuart Atwell blows his whistle after Martinez launches the ball towards the Arsenal penalty area.
Aside from the Villa Park faithful, Manchester City will have gleaned the most glee from this entertaining game so far. Villa are good value for the lead given to them by Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho’s fine strikes, while Bukayo Saka’s reply for Arsenal, who have threatened more often, was the solo pick of the bunch.
45 mins +2: Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
There’s a ruckus between a large group of players after Tyrone Mings successfully challenges Eddie Nketiah, then clumsily follows through with his studs on Martin Odegaard, leaving the Arsenal captain crumpled in pain.
Bukayo Saka and Philippe Coutinho tangle in a subsequent challenge. Stuart Atwell lets it all play out, then books Saka. As usual, Saka’s been frequently targeted and looked increasingly frustrated.
45 mins +1: Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
Bukayo Saka does well to hook a cross into the penalty area from the right under pressure. Villa deal with it.
45 mins: Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
At least two minutes of added time are advertised. Arsenal are still largely keeping the ball in Villa’s half, but their opponents are containing them.
41 mins: Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
That stat about final-third passes is holding up as Arsenal probe but do very little of any effect when they reach dangerous areas.
Watching a replay of that second Villa goal emphasises what a direct, flowing move it was. Not sure how many seconds it took to go from Emi Martinez’s bowl-out to Philippe Coutinho’s cool finish, but Villa sure know how to play speedily and smoothly.
39 mins: Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
Alex Moreno lets out a loud yelp of pain after Bukayo Saka goes in heavily on his ankle. The challenge is deemed firm but fair. Revenge for their earlier coming-together?
38 mins: Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
Arsenal have made 49 passes in the final third. Aston Villa have made six.
That’s how to make it count.
36 mins: Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
That was Philippe Coutinho’s first Premier League goal this season – and Alex Moreno’s first assist.
It’s all calmed down somewhat for the moment, but the crowd are right back in full voice after being subdued following that Bukayo Saka equaliser.
33 mins: Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
Is Unai Emery’s unbeaten run against his former club set to continue? Villa have been excellent so far.
32 mins: GOAL – Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal (Philippe Coutinho)
Villa are back in front with a slick goal down from down that left-hand side they’ve so enjoyed attacking this lunchtime!
Alex Moreno receives the ball in a dangerous position inside the penalty area beyond Ben White. Moreno cuts a low ball back into the path of Emi Buendia, who steps over the opportunity to set it up for the unmarked Philippe Coutinho just inside the box. He drills calmly beyond Ramsdale. 2-1!
30 mins: Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal
Douglas Luiz wins a corner on the right. Bukayo Saka appears to be limping a bit from an earlier challenge by Alex Moreno, and the Villa fans show their sympathy by booing him.
28 mins: Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal
Douglas Luiz’s free-kick goes straight into the Arsenal wall, and the visitors end up winning a throw-in near the halfway line.
26 mins: Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal
The teams exchange free-kicks in useful positions. Arsenal didn’t do much with theirs from the left, but now Ollie Watkins wins one in a central position beyond the midway point of the Arsenal half.
It would take an absolute worldie to beat Aaron Ramsdale from here, but Douglas Luiz is over the ball and he’s already had a (dreadful) attempt from even further out.
23 mins: Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal
Only Erling Haaland (30) and Harry Kane (18) have been involved in more Premier League goals this season than Bukayo Saka (17).
He’s scored (9) or assisted (8) in 15 of his last 20 Premier League games. This is the third time this season he’s found the onion bag in consecutive league games.
20 mins: Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal
The action has quietened down a bit, as was perhaps inevitable after a richly entertaining start.
Two clinical goals in the opening 16 minutes. Some start to the Premier League weekend.
17 mins: Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal
Bukayo Saka is now Arsenal’s top scorer this season with 10 goals. How far clear would they be going at the top this afternoon if they had Erling Haaland spearheading things?
The return of Gabriel Jesus is going to represent another intriguing twist in this Premier League season.
16 mins: Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal
Contrasting responses on the bench to that goal, as you might expect. Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta instantly held both arms aloft as Bukayo Saka’s scything shot flew in, while his Villa counterpart, Unai Emery, has been telling his players to keep calm with a gesture you can probably imagine.
15 mins: GOAL – Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal (Bukayo Saka)
An even better finish than the first goal! Ben White reaches the byline inside the penalty area on the right and clips back a cross that Tyrone Mings tries to head clear.
Bukayo Saka still has a lot to do to send in a shot on goal as the ball bounces up for him inside the box, but he manages to fizz a superb half-volley into the far corner of the net. Emi Martinez had no chance with the zip on that – a marvellous piece of technique!
12 mins: Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal
Leandro Trossard has been given a start today and he tries to cause some trouble down the left with a cross. Then he sends a corner to the far post from the same side, which Villa eventually clear.
11 mins: Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal
A nervy moment for Villa is expertly dealt with by Tyrone Mings under his own crossbar!
The defender signed a new contract on Friday and he shows his worth by diverting the ball onto the crossbar with an outstretched leg after Ben White gets behind the Villa backline inside the penalty area on the right and loops a cross towards Eddie Nketiah’s head in front of goal.
10 mins: Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal
Ollie Watkins thinks he has a chance of making it five goals in four games after Aaron Ramsdale needlessly dallies on the ball for too long, just about clearing.
8 mins: Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal
Mikel Arteta issues instructions at close quarters to Ben White on the touchline. Most of Villa’s attacks have continued to come down their left, where that splendid goal originated from.
5 mins: GOAL – Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal (Ollie Watkins)
Ollie Watkins has a fourth goal in as many matches with a terrific finish!
Matty Cash dispossesses Oleksandr Zinchenko outside Villa’s penalty area on their right. The Poland international is straight on the attack, lofting a lovely diagonal pass on to the run of Watkins just outside the Arsenal box.
The striker shows what confidence his run of goals has given him, nonchalantly moving into space past William Saliba before rifling a low drive into the far corner of the net past Aaron Ramsdale’s drive!
4 mins: Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal
Villa keep working the ball towards that left-hand side but they haven’t had any joy out of Ben White and company yet.
“Their strength this season has not been starting this season and sometimes teams can work them out,” says Lucy Ward on BT Sport.
3 mins: Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal
Granit Xhaka tries to create something for Arsenal on the left, narrowly failing to win a corner. Then Villa set off on the opposite flank on an attack that also fizzles out.
2 mins: Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal
Mikel Arteta is on his feet, as you’d expect, and issuing instructions. Villa have the first half-promising attack, Philippe Coutinho cutting inside from the right and playing a low pass to Douglas Luiz, who has a shot from an outrageously long way out that threatens the corner flag as much as Arsenal’s goal.
1 min: Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal
Fashion news: Unai Emery is wearing a gold sleeveless puffa jacket above his formal attire today. Mikel Arteta, who he shares a pre-match embrace with, is all in black.
Arsenal kick us off, attacking from right to left in the first half.
20 mins from kickoff: Emery has drawn three and won one of his encounters with Arsenal.
Villa have lost their last three against Arsenal. The Villans won the fixture three times in a row before that, but lost each of their previous seven attempts to do so.
40 mins from kickoff: Let’s take a look at what Unai Emery said before this game. Villa had made a promising start to his reign before those defeats to City and Leicester.
“Our objective is not to change,” he says. “When I arrived here, we were near the bottom; we progressed and then two weeks ago, before the match against Leicester, we were very excited about the possibility to get in the top ten and close to playing in Europe next year.
“The target is the same as before the match against Leicester and after the two games we lost: we must try to escape the bottom – we are not there yet. We are trying to add points and get to the top ten, and if we can catch some teams we are going to try and do it.”
55 mins from kickoff: There are two changes for Arsenal: Takehiro Tomiyasu and Gabriel Martinelli come out, Ben White and Leandro Trossard are brought in.
60 mins from kickoff: Team news! Aston Villa make five changes, including the restoration of England defender Tyrone Mings, who’s just signed a new contract at the club.
Matty Cash, Alex Moreno, John McGinn and Philippe Coutinho are also in, with Ashley Young, Calum Chambers, Lucas Digne, Jacob Ramsey and Leon Bailey making way.
80 mins from kickoff: Make sure you follow The Sporting News’ dedicated football channels on Twitter and Instagram.
Full of insights, stats and analysis, they go as well with the beautiful game as Unai Emery with the Europa League trophy or Mikel Arteta with the edge of the technical area.
100 mins from kickoff: This is the first time since 20 August that Arsenal are not starting a round of fixtures on top of the Premier League table.
“That’s an opportunity,” says head coach Mikel Arteta, adding that there were “a lot of positives” to take from that first home defeat of the season.
“We’ve talked about it for a few months now: the position that we’re in, the way the team is playing, and all the right things that we have to continue to do to earn the right to be there. We’ve seen where the level is, we want to be at that level and we are on that journey together.”
120 mins from kickoff: Hello and welcome to The Sporting News’ coverage of Aston Villa and Arsenal’s meeting in the first Premier League match of the weekend!
Aston Villa overlord Unai Emery took charge of 51 top-flight games for Arsenal between August 2018 and November 2019, winning 25 and losing 13 of them during his ill-fated succession to Arsene Wenger – a daunting manager to replace for any coach.
Manchester City, who beat Arsenal 3-1 at Emirates Stadium to move top of the table on goal difference on Wednesday, are now hoping the Spaniard does them a favour by inflicting a second successive defeat on the Gunners, who’ve gone four games without victory since their barnstorming 3-2 win at home to Manchester United on January 22.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal lineups
Aston Villa starting XI (4-4-2): Martinez (GK) — Cash, Konsa, Mings, Moreno— McGinn, Kamara, Luiz, Coutinho — Watkins, Buendia
Aston Villa subs: Sinisalo (GK), Young, Ramsey, Dendoncker, Bailey, Digne, Duran, Chambers
Arsenal starting XI (4-3-3): Ramsdale (GK) — White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko — Odegaard, Jorginho, Xhaka — Saka, Nketiah, Trossard
Arsenal subs: Turner (GK), Tomiyasu, Kiwior, Tierney, Holding, Martinelli, Vieira, Smith Rowe, Nelson
What time is Aston Villa vs Arsenal kick off?
This Premier League clash will kick off at Villa Park on Saturday, February 18 at 12:30 p.m. local time.
Here’s how that time translates across some of the major territories: https://neuhoy.com/
Aston Villa vs Arsenal live stream, TV channel
Here’s how to watch all of the action from this match in some of the major territories: https://neuhoy.com/
UK: This match will be broadcast live via BT Sport’s television and streaming services in the UK.
USA: This match streams on NBC’s USA Network platform for subscribers in both English and Spanish.
Canada: Every Premier League game this season is live streaming exclusively via fuboTV in Canada.
Australia: Fans in Australia can stream every match live and on demand on Optus Sport.