Premier League: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 1
Arsenal eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger as a Santi Cazorla double gave them a 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.
The Spaniard had given the Gunners an early lead after five minutes, before Andreas Weimann equalised for the visitors midway through the second half at the Emirates.
But Cazorla was at the ready to slot home with just minutes to go as the Gunners closed the gap on fourth-placed Tottenham to one point, extending Villa's miserable run to just one win in 10 games.
The hosts controlled possession with palpable ease and created the first chance of the game after just two minutes, with Jack Wilshere forcing an early save from Brad Guzan.
And the Gunners did not have to wait long to open the scoring as Cazorla found possession minutes later, tucking away an easy finish at the second time of asking. Nathan Baker had blocked the Spaniard's initial attempt at a cross but Cazorla showed no hesitation in reacting first to convert.
Villa responded instantly, mustering their first chance of the game after nine minutes as Charles N’Zogbia fed Gabriel Agbonlahor on the edge of the box, only for the 26-year-old to fire his shot straight at Wojciech Szczesny.
Close to the half-hour mark, the visitors enjoyed their best chance yet as N'Zogbia was first denied by Szczesny before Weimann had his shot cleared by Per Mertesacker.
Theo Walcott curled a left-footed shot over the bar minutes later, before Olivier Giroud was denied by Guzan once again as half-time approached.
On 68 minutes, Villa made their sharpness on the break tell as Weimann ended a fantastic move with a strike from range – all of which started from an Arsenal corner. Szczesny could have done better between the posts but it was the speed at which the visitors broke that really caught the home side off guard.
With the equaliser came tension at the Emirates. The home crowd were anxious and Wenger knew they would settle for nothing less than a win.
The Frenchman responded by replacing Carl Jenkinson with Lukas Podolski in an attacking move. But it was Cazorla who again made the difference as the midfielder found himself unmarked on the penalty spot late on to fire home the winner for his side.