Bukayo Saka scores from outside the box to keep Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four alive

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Bukayo Saka sealed Arsenal’s fifth successive away win, boosting the Gunners’ Champions League prospects at blustery Villa Park.

Bukayo Saka scores from outside the box to keep Arsenal's hopes of finishing in the top four alive

Saka scored a goal through a crowd of players to up his goal count to ten for the season, putting Mikel Arteta’s team four points ahead of nearest rivals Manchester United in the race for fourth.

Villa, on the other hand, struggled in difficult conditions and failed to challenge Arsenal’s stand-in goalkeeper Bernd Leno until injury time, despite the German’s first Premier League appearance since August.

Arsenal started conservatively with Danny Ings on the bench, leaving Ollie Watkins as the lone striker, despite the absence of usual No 1 Aaron Ramsdale (hip) and Gabriel Martinelli (sickness).

In the first 15 minutes, Martin Odegaard was prominently engaged, setting up chances for Emile Smith Rowe, who blasted over, and Alexandre Lacazette, whose low drive was stopped by former Gunner Emiliano Martinez.

Villa let their guard down briefly during a round of applause for former Villa attacker Andy Lochhead, who died last week, and Bukayo Saka nearly caught Martinez off guard at his near post.

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With the visitors’ spirits high, a flowing move brought them into the Villa box, where Tyrone Mings blocked a Smith Rowe shot. Leno was a passenger on the other end of the line.

Villa’s first sight of goal came after 20 minutes, when Philippe Coutinho supplied Ollie Watkins inside the box, and he was about to shoot when Cedric Soares intervened with a great recovery tackle.

Arsenal used the fright as a wake-up call to make their supremacy count, and they went ahead after half an hour.

Saka blasted through a jungle of legs past the unsighted Martinez for his 10th goal of the season after Cedric’s cross into a packed penalty area was only half-cleared to him on the edge of the box.

Saka and his teammates celebrated in front of the raucous traveling fans, but the England winger’s afternoon was made even more unpleasant when he was hit on the ankle by Tyrone Mings’ follow-up tackle.

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Despite Arsenal players encircling the referee demanding harsher punishment, Mings was booked by Andrew Madley, who made the proper judgment.

After that, Villa supporters expressed their displeasure with Madley at every chance, though they were somewhat placated when Granit Xhaka was reprimanded for grabbing Emiliano Buendia and then shoving him away.

The Holte End came together to sing, “You’re not fit to referee,” after Matty Cash was correctly penalized for lunging at Kieran Tierney.

Villa attempted to start the second half on a more positive note. Ashley Young, who was filling in for the injured Lucas Digne, pushed forward and provided a couple of enticing crosses that Watkins almost took advantage of.

Watkins’ work on the hour provided John McGinn with a shooting opportunity on the edge of the box, which the Scot curled just wide. It was the home team’s first shot of the afternoon, either on or off target.

When Thomas Partey was pushed over on the edge of the Arsenal box, Cash won a free-kick. Partey became the sixth name in Madley’s notepad.

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Bukayo Sakaโ€™s opener was Arsenalโ€™s 2,000th goal in the Premier League with the Gunners becoming the third side to reach this milestone after Man Utd (currently 2176 goals) and Liverpool (currently 2002 goals). Landmark.

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Douglas Luiz squandered the free-kick, shooting into row Z, encapsulating Villa’s whole performance. Smith Rowe diverted a Watkins attempt onto the outside of the post.

Midway through the second half, the cavalry arrived. After the Mings challenge, Bukayo Saka was replaced by Nicolas Pepe, who was more effective. With Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey on the pitch, Steven Gerrard introduced pace in wide areas.

When it didn’t work, he pulled out his final card in the closing ten minutes, substituting Ings for Watkins. Ings showed his incisive instincts right away, finding space in the box and directing a brilliant header narrowly over the line.

Bukayo Saka's goal the difference as Arsenal brush Aston Villa aside to  boost Champions League hopes

In the final stages, Villa utilized the wind to push Arsenal back, but Villa’s center-backs Ben White and Gabriel remained steady as the ball was pinging into the box on a regular basis.

The game’s final equalizer came with the game’s final kick. Pepe fouled Douglas Luiz, and Leno, who had previously been inactive, parried Coutinho’s free-kick brilliantly.

The final whistle blew almost instantly, Leno was surrounded by his teammates, and Arteta rushed onto the pitch to celebrate as if it were a major victory.

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One response to “Bukayo Saka scores from outside the box to keep Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four alive”

  1. […] Arsenal are reportedly trying to tie down Bukayo Saka to a long-term contract which could see him earn nothing less than four times his current salary. […]

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