Cazorla brace sees off plucky Villa
Published 23/02/2013 | 17:31
Arsenal maestro Santi Cazorla secured a 2-1 win for Arsenal with a last-gasp winner against a valiant Aston Villa.
Cazorla opened the scoring in the sixth minute, but Villa came back strongly and equalised through Andreas Weimann after the break.
Arsenal threw everything at Paul Lambert's man, but they could not find a way past Brad Guzan until Cazorla found the net with five minutes remaining - saving his manager from another ear-bashing from the supporters who have started to doubt whether Arsene Wenger is the right man to lead the club forward.
Whatever criticisms are aimed at Wenger - whether it be his match tactics or his transfer policy - there is no doubt that he does possess players who can turn the game with a bit of magic. Cazorla is certainly of them. The Spaniard, who now has 11 goals for the club, drifted in and out of the game, but he took his two strikes brilliantly.
Cazorla took only six minutes to notch the opener. Nathan Baker managed to block his initial shot after some good work by Jack Wilshere, but the Spaniard made no mistake with his second effort, slotting past Guzan with a beautiful curling effort.
Urged on by an animated Lambert from the touchline, Villa looked to hit straight back. Charles N'Zogbia raced down the right past Thomas Vermaelen and pulled the ball back for Gabriel Agbonlahor but Wojciech Szczesny saved.
Villa's attacks led to a nervous atmosphere inside the Emirates, but Theo Walcott brought them to the edge of their seats with a teasing curler that flew inches over Guzan's goal.
With Arsenal throwing so many players forward, they were left vulnerable at the back. Weimann went on another rampaging counter down the right and crossed for Agbonlahor, but the forward headed wide.
Wenger was forced into a change just after the hour when Diaby hobbled off with another injury. Aaron Ramsey came on in his place. Villa then stunned the home side by equalising. Carl Jenkinson failed to clear a long punt down field, the ball made its way to Weimann and he went on a blistering 40-yard run before beating Szczesny with a weak shot.
Wenger gambled, throwing Lukas Podolski on for Jenkinson, and Arsenal pressured the visitors' box. Guzan saved brilliantly to deny Olivier Giroud from point-blank range as Arsenal continued to pile forward. They got their reward five minutes from time when Nacho Monreal swung the ball into the box and Cazorla converted, much to the relief of Wenger and the home fans.