TWO quickfire goals gave Arsenal a lift last night.
It was so effective that they ended up back at the top of the Barclays Premier League, with Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud scoring within a minute of each other in the first half of a win over Aston Villa. It allowed the London side to sidestep a goal from Christian Benteke after the break to move back ahead of Manchester City in the table.
The result would prove more painful for Villa, but not just as it leaves the club just five points ahead of the relegation places. A shot by Serge Gnabry struck Villa defender Nathan Baker in the face after just 21 minutes and left the pitch wearing an oxygen mask. It is understood he suffered mild concussion.
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It would take just 13 minutes for Paul Lambert to be given a headache. The Villa manager watched as Mesut Oezil picked the home side apart before slipping a pass to Nacho Monreal, who teed up Wilshere to slide in a shot from inside the penalty area. A minute later and the Arsenal midfielder clipped a pass to Giroud to finish emphatically.
Monreal went close with a shot as did Giroud as Arsenal clicked through the gears on their way to top spot. The visitors would stall midway through the second half, though, when Matt Lowton swung a cross towards the back post and Benteke stooped to thrust a header past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
The Belgian had endured an unfulfilling evening up to that point - he had a penalty claim waved away after tangling with Laurent Koscielny in the first half - and would seemed revived after his goal. The Villa striker forced his way past two challenges late on, while Gabriel Agbonlahor had a shot saved and Fabian Delph had another turned past a post by Szczesny.