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Five Famous Arsenal Home Wins Over Aston Villa

Five Famous Arsenal Home Wins Over Aston Villa

Ahead of Arsenal’s vital home game against Aston Villa this weekend, Last Word on Football looks back at previous times that the Gunners have faced Villa at home.

Aston Villa have two things that Arsenal currently lack, namely a genuine striker in Ollie Watkins and a European Cup or Champions League triumph, but otherwise, the Gunners remain far ahead of the Midlands club, as they have been for most of the last 40 years (or ever since Villa’s European Cup win in 1982). Nevertheless, given Villa’s incredible upturn in form since their appointment of Unai Emery, the former Arsenal manager, they will present a major hurdle to the Gunners’ title ambitions when the two teams meet at The Emirates this weekend.

If any Arsenal fan should need any inspiration ahead of their club’s latest encounter with Aston Villa, here are five famous Arsenal home wins over The Villans, at least two of which were crucial stepping stones to title triumphs. Gunners fans will hope that the same will be true again this weekend and that another victory over Villa will help to propel them to Premier League glory.

Five Arsenal Home Wins Over Aston Villa

Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 1 (22 October 2021)

Arguably, Mikel Arteta took over Arsenal in the most challenging circumstances that any new manager of a major football club has ever faced. In addition to the difficulty of re-energising the Gunners after the long decline they had experienced under Arsène Wenger, Arteta also faced the unprecedented difficulty of taking over a club during a global pandemic, which meant that most of his early home games took place without fans.

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After the initial success of winning the FA Cup in 2020, Arteta experienced a turbulent 18 months, during which there was every chance that he could have become “Outeta”, as the demands from many Gunners fans for him to leave became almost deafening. Matters reached a head at the start of the 2021-22 season when Arsenal lost their first three games, albeit two of them were against Premier League Champions Manchester City and European Champions Chelsea.

Even as late as October of 2021, the Gunners should have lost at home to Crystal Palace, only scrambling a 95th-minute equaliser to draw 2-2. Yet four days later, against Aston Villa, a revitalised Arsenal, with Thomas Partey to the fore (he dominated midfield and scored the first goal), outplayed Villa and finally began to find the consistency that would allow them to climb the table.

Arsenal 5 Aston Villa 0 (1 February 2015)

In the 2014-15 season, Arsenal probably had their best team of the late Wenger era. It was still not good enough to challenge for league titles or in Europe (unlike Wenger’s early teams and Arteta’s current team), but they were good enough to win three FA Cups in four seasons. And two of the best performances of that side came against Aston Villa in 2015, including one at The Emirates.

The Gunners’ 5-0 home win over Aston Villa in the 2014-15 season was not only their biggest victory of that campaign but came just a few weeks after their shock 2-0 win at Manchester City, which remained Arsenal’s best performance at The Etihad until their recent 0-0 draw there. The two results seemed to indicate – that Wenger might just be assembling another title-contending team, but ultimately they fell away and only finished third.

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Nevertheless, their 5-0 thrashing of Villa, with the goals coming from five different players (Giroud, Özil, Walcott, Cazorla and Bellerin), was a superb display. And crucially it prefigured the FA Cup Final that season, when Arsenal thrashed Villa again, scoring four unanswered goals at Wembley, and won the FA Cup for the second year in succession.

Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 0 (27 August 2003)

It is 20 years since Wenger’s greatest team became The Invincibles, going the entire 2003-04 Premier League campaign undefeated. The 2-0 home victory over Aston Villa at the start of that season may not be one of its highlights, but it was still a key victory, the Gunners’ third in a row at the start of the season, which helped to put them on their path to footballing immortality.

Two of Arsenal’s three most important players in The Invincibles side scored against Villa in August 2003. First, Sol Campbell headed the opener just before the hour mark, and then Thierry Henry secured victory with a goal in the 90th minute. And with Patrick Vieira, his usual imperious self in midfield, all three vital elements of that great team’s spine – centre-half, central midfield and central striker – were in evidence against Villa.

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Over 20 years on, it is fascinating to compare the spine of The Invincibles with that of the current Arsenal team. In William Saliba and Declan Rice, the Gunners have finally found worthy replacements for Campbell and Vieira – but the absence of anyone even remotely resembling Henry is the biggest weakness of Arsenal in 2024. Finding that final ingredient – a striker who can score goals and, crucially, goals out of nothing – remains the manager’s biggest task.

Arsenal 5 Aston Villa 0 (3 April 1991)

And so to Arsenal’s top two home wins over Aston Villa, both of which were crucial to the Gunners winning a league title. The first came when George Graham’s Arsenal clinched a second league title in three seasons, with the second title triumph coming in infinitely less dramatic fashion than the first. And another 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa at home was one of the final steps that that 1990-91 Arsenal side took en route to the title.

In that victory at Highbury, Arsenal’s two strikers – at a time when playing two strikers was the norm – scored twice (with veteran midfielder Paul Davis getting the other goal). Alan Smith was the more experienced of the two, having been instrumental in the unforgettable Anfield 89 triumph. The sensation in the 1990-91 season was Kevin Campbell, who came into the team late. He scored ten goals, including two against Villa, that helped the Gunners to win the league.

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Campbell was probably never as good again for Arsenal as he was at the end of the 1990-91 season, but that spring, he was extraordinary. It is also fascinating to consider that the Gunners had a young Andy Cole in their squad and later signed Ian Wright from Crystal Palace. Such striking riches provide a striking comparison – to the current Arsenal side’s lack of even one genuine striker and are a further reminder of Arteta’s continuing need for an out-and-out goal-scorer.

Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2 (9 December 2001)

Arsenal’s most important home win over Aston Villa came nearly a quarter of a century ago when Thierry Henry spearheaded an amazing comeback to win 3-2 after the Gunners had trailed 2-0 at half-time. Sylvain Wiltord scored immediately after half-time to get the Gunners back in the game, but nearly another 30 minutes passed before Henry got his first goal in the 72nd minute. Then, in the 91st minute, the great Henry scored the winner to complete a remarkable turnaround.

It is instructive to compare the Gunners team of December 2001 with the current Arsenal side. Although that Arsenal team would go on to win the League and Cup Double in the summer of 2002, it was by no means certain during the campaign that they would do so, especially as they had won nothing since Wenger’s first double in 1997-98. And that was particularly true when they went two goals down to Villa at home.

Mikel Arteta’s current Arsenal side are perhaps at a similar point in their development. Arteta may have won the FA Cup in 2020, but not one of the starters in that final are still at The Emirates. Consequently, this Arsenal team have no collective experience of winning anything together. However, if they can beat Villa at home this weekend and maintain such form to the end of the season, there is a chance that they can emulate that great 2001-02 Arsenal side and win the title.


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