Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 2
( Giroud, 8 (pen) Ramsey 38 )

At the fourth time of asking, Arsenal finally grabbed the opportunity to claim the Premier League top spot with a strong performance and win against Aston Villa. The win completed a good week for the Gunners, after their heroics against Olympiakos to clinch a last 16 Champions League place. Olivier Giroud scored a hat-trick in Athens, and he got Arsenal off to the perfect start here with his 50th goal in the Premier League, a penalty, awarded after Alan Hutton hauled down Theo Walcott. The Gunners doubled their lead when Aaron Ramsey finished off a trademark passing move with a tap in and another Mesut Özil assist. Rooted to the foot of the Premier League, Villa rarely threatened Petr Cech’s goal, the Arsenal ‘ keeper finishing with another clean sheet which now equals David James record of 169 games.

Arsenal started with the same side which featured in their midweek Champions League 3-0 in over Olympiakos, and even the substitutes bench remained the same, with Joel Campbell keeping his starting place ahead of the now fully fit Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The biggest worry to Arsene Wenger however was for his side not to concede against Villa, the side now managed by one of his first ever Arsenal signings, Remi Garde who won the title under Wenger. Garde came to Arsenal at the same time as Patrick Vieira.

Wenger has spoken of his advice for Garde to take the Villa job, but with a mere 6 points from 16 Premier League games, if he didn’t already know, the Villa manager now grasps the enormity of the task to keep the Midlands’ side in the top flight.

Villa sat back an allowed Arsenal the early possession. Under no pressure to commit and perhaps with the after effects of the Athens trip still in their collective systems, Arsenal stroked the ball freely and at will. When Mathieu Flamini’s long ball fell right for Walcott, the England striker got past the back tracking Alan Hutton. The Villa defender put his arms around Walcott, hauling him down and after a brief pause, referee Kevin Friend a penalty was awarded.

Up stepped Giroud to send Brad Guzan the wrong way to give Arsenal the opener. He’s been under the microscope of late, but Giroud with his 14th goal of the season also became the seventh Arsenal player to score 50 goals for the club, proving his doubters wrong. Giroud has achieved his record in 113 games to join the elite club whose members are Thierry Henry, Ian Wright, Robin van Persie, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Walcott.

The Gunners were comfortable as the home side rarely threatened. Seven minutes before the break, Arsenal doubled their lead. Ramsey won the ball and set off a quick sequence of passes from Ozil, Giroud and Walcott. The England striker’s defence splitting pass was latched onto by Özil. The German looked up and teed up Ramsey to strike home with the tap in. It was football of the highest order and in truth, Arsenal hadn’t even gotten out of second gear. It was also Özil’s 13th assist of the season.

Villa tried a more pressing game as Per Mertesacker in particular came under pressure when he tried to play the ball out. However, but for a Leandro Bacuna rising shot and the late directness of the pact Adama Traore, Arsenal were in the comfort zone. Substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain went close for a third Arsenal goal, but by then Wenger’s men were already home and hosed.

Many feel that this is Arsenal’s best chance to win a fourth Premier League title and their first in eleven years. Wenger knows that too, but here he was focusing on the latest win happy.

” I believe that the approach was right, first half we were completely in control, and I was a bit anxious about the second half, because we gave a lot on Wednesday night a long trip and second half was more difficult. We were a bit lucky in one or two occasions, some crosses from Villa and in the last 20 minutes we missed always that opportunity to score the third goal. But overall for us it was a great week,” said Wenger who heaped special praise on Arsenal’s second goal and Ozil’s contribution.

” That’s the way we want to play football and when it comes off, it’s good. But I must say that Mesut is an absolute complete collective player, and sometimes he’s frustrated that he doesn’t get the same balls back but he’s a very important link in our game,” continued Wenger.

Seeing Cech level the clean sheets record, Wenger knows that he will go past the 169 clean sheets tally. ” I don’t believe that anybody questions still Petr Cech today, he’s an absolute all time great in goal and the record speaks for him.”

” It is mentally good because we had a good week. We can first recover physically, I believe that is needed and then we’ll prepare well to win this game,” noted Wenger who revealed that Alexus Sanchez might be able to declare his fitness for next Monday evening’s clash against Manchester City at the Emirates stadium.

” I personally believe it’s very unlikely, but Sanchez is Sanchez and you never know! ”