There was no RVP on the scoreboard against Villa but he didn't have to be perfect as Arsenal got their goalscoring from Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott, and an absolute beauty from Mikel Arteta.
An effervescent Gibbs showing a lot of mobility and intent scored his first goal in the Premiership collecting Gervinho's pass and then angling his shot under Shay Given who managed a hand but was unable to keep it out. A lucky break but Gibbs would take that everyday.
Walcott as consistent threat has been a topic that has been rehashed many times. But we finally maybe seeing an evolution. Song's perfectly weighted pass picked out Walcott and the winger latched onto with a perfect first touch, opened up his body, and guided the ball into the bottom left hand corner of goal. Arsenal two goals up early, in the drivers seat, with at least three chances other chances including a spectacular bit of footwork by RVP that led to an equally spectacular save by Stephen Warnock to deny him a goal.
The second half was meandering. Lots of movement and a bit of showboating but Arsenal failed to capitalize on their chances. At the other hand Villa were rarely a threat. Walcott was taken off and replaced by the Ox. And here we got a first hand glimpse of the power and speed of the former Southampton player. The way he surged past Gary Gardner like a runaway freight train needed a desperation tackle to stop his progress to goal. Steven Ireland gambled, stuck his leg across, and the Ox went tumbling down. Replays showed Phil Dowd was correct in waiving off the penalty claims as Ireland actually got all of the ball.
As the match wove to another comfortable three points for the Gunners we were given a last minute treat. An Arteta special. He managed the whole package as his free kick whistled past the wall without any spin gathering even more speed and the net bulged with the ball. Arsenal 3 Villa 0.
A note here about Arsenal's improved defensive focus. There are encouraging signs although It very much remains a work in progress. We are getting more men behind the ball as the forward players show a willingness to track back although there were some notable breakdowns when Villa counterattacked. Gervinho is the most improved player in this regard. We have been more effective pressing teams to reclaim the ball back, most notably against Spurs and Everton. The opposition have struggled to develop a rhythm and fluency in midfield due to this increased disruption.
Laurent Koscielny was not in the line up having suffered a last minute hamstring injury. There was some trepidation when Djourou took his place and when Heskey threw an elbow that bloodied his nose those fears seem to have been realized. But to his great credit, the centre back recovered his poise and had a quietly effective game seeing off Heskey.
The Gunners are now in third position recording their seventh win on the trot. They are three points ahead of Spurs and eight ahead of Chelsea in the chase for third and fourth. The stretch from hereon is somewhat tricky as we face a group of desperate relegation zone teams, a title contender, and a rival for Champions League representation. Each has a motive to pull off their best and so we can ill afford any slacking off.