Arsenal go top after win
27 November 2010, 17:57
London - Arsenal got back on track after a traumatic week as the Gunners romped to a 4-2 win at Aston Villa on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger's side avoided a third straight defeat and extended their incredible unbeaten record at Villa to 12 games to take over at the top of the Premier League ahead of Saturday's later matches.
After the misery of letting a two-goal lead slip in the north London derby against Tottenham and the subsequent embarrassment of losing to Braga in the Champions League, Arsenal were delighted to find sanctuary at Villa Park.
Their record of seven wins and five draws in their previous visits made it an ideal venue after losing four of their previous six games in all competitions.
The Gunners answered their critics, who believe they do not possess the mental strength to match their obvious talents, by overwhelming Villa in one of the most one-sided 45 minutes of Premier League action you could witness.
Thomas Rosicky, Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh were all guilty of missing a succession of chances, but Arshavin soothed the frustration of Wenger when he netted in the 39th minute after a dreadful mix-up between Luke Young and James Collins from Lukasz Fabianski's long clearance.
Both Villa defenders missed their attempted intervention leaving Arshavin free to weave his way into the penalty and his curling shot squeezed through the legs of the retreating Collins before beating Brad Friedel.
Villa had not beaten Arsenal in 23 league meetings and any hopes of improving on that dreadful record evaporated further when Samir Nasri doubled Arsenal's advantage on the stroke of half-time with a searing first-time shot from the corner of the penalty area, which took a slight deflection of Luke Young before finding the target.
These are worrying times for Villa boss Gerard Houllier. A host of injuries to key players has meant exposing youngsters who are clearly not up to the week-on-week demands and the emergency signing of 37-year-old Robert Pires, who, despite the added incentive of impressing against the club he served with such distinction for six years, looked hideously out of his depth.
Pires had to be withdrawn at half-time to spare him any further humiliation.
He was still getting changed when Ciaran Clark chested down Sebastien Squillaci's poor header and drove a powerful shot from the edge of the area beyond Lukasz Fabianski for his first senior goal.
Moroccan striker Chamakh re-gained their two-goal advantage, sliding the ball under Friedel after Thomas Rosicky's through ball.
Clark added a second with a clever back header with 20 minutes remaining, after Richard Dunne headed Ashley Young's header into the danger area, but Jack Wilshere rounded off an emphatic Arsenal performance.
Wilshere's first ever Premier League goal in stoppage time was an attractive way to round off a crucial win as started and finished a move involving Chamakh and substitute Denilson.
Houllier has won just twice in ten games since replacing Martin O'Neill and Villa are flirting dangerously with the relegation zone as they prepare to embark on a season-defining mini-run.
After their midweek League Cup quarter final against bitter rivals Birmingham City, they face visits to Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, as well as hosting Tottenham.