Ollie Watkins spoils Arsenal party in two minutes


Ollie Watkins’ second-minute goal proved the winner as Aston Villa’s 1-0 victory condemned Arsenal to a second league defeat in five days.

Watkins made the most of some lax defending between Cedric Soares and Gabriel, which allowed Bertrand Traore to steal in before teeing up his team-mate for a close-range finish with only 74 seconds on the clock.

Debutant Mat Ryan had by far the busier afternoon of the two goalkeepers, denying Traore before half-time and keeping out strong Watkins, John McGinn and Jack Grealish efforts after the break.

Nicolas Pepe shot wide when played through in that second period in one of Arsenal’s few clear-cut attacks and later pulled a smart save from Emiliano Martinez with a deflected strike. But the 10th-placed Gunners’ resurgence was dealt a further blow by the end scoreline, while Villa moved a point off sixth-placed Chelsea.

Ryan could not have wished for a worse start to his debut than to pick the ball out of his own net with barely

It took Arsenal 29 minutes to even consider replying in kind, when Granit Xhaka’s free-kick was palmed behind by Martinez in their first shot on target of the afternoon.

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Instead of pushing for an equaliser, the Gunners lacked incision and Villa came by far the closest to scoring the game’s second goal, with Traore given space to turn in the area by Cedric before Ryan denied him with an excellent reaction stop.



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