Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 0: Watkins' early strike stuns Gunners to keep high-flying Villa's Euro dreams alive

AFTER A TALE OF TWO ‘KEEPERS, Aston Villa are more entitled to have great expectations.

Mat Ryan conceded after just 75 seconds to become only the fourth goalkeeper to let in a goal within two minutes of his club debut in the Premier League.

And Ollie Watkins’ early strike proved enough to win the game thanks to former Gunner Emi Martinez, who made some important saves.

Ryan also pulled off some good stops but he made the worst possible start to his Arsenal career, and not just because of the unwanted statistic.

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Cedric Soares sold Gabriel short with a pass and Bertrand Traore nipped in to cross the ball for Watkins.

The Villa forward’s shot took a deflection off Rob Holding but you still felt Ryan should have done more

Arteta’s team were the better side after the goal but did not look like grabbing an equaliser.

This was partly because the home side made sure Bukayo Saka could not influence proceedings too much by fouling him in rotation.

But the Gunners also lacked quality in the final third.

Many Arsenal fans feel the club sold the wrong goalkeeper last summer and Martinez strengthened that case with his only meaningful save of the first half, an excellent stop from a Granit Xhaka free kick.

Almost immediately Ryan had to be alert to stop Traore doubling Villa’s lead after a lovely spin had put him in on goal.

The Australian denied Watkins with a decent low save early in the second half and then kept out a John McGinn effort, either side of an effort wide by Nicolas Pepe as the game became more open.

Martinez pawed away a dangerous Pepe cross and then adjusted well when a shot by the Frenchman deflected off Ezri Konsa.

Arteta threw on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Martin Odegaard and then Willian as the second half wore on it was Odegaard who missed the best chance to equalise, firing over the bar from Saka’s cutback.

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