Wenger reveals key to Arsenal's hard fought victory over Aston Villa

Arsenal secured the three points through a combination of playing football, then fighting for the ball.

Having witnessed Chelsea scalp Hull City on Saturday, January 11, then Manchester City defeat Newcastle United the following day, the entire Arsenal roster and it's coaching staff knew that victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Monday evening was a mandatory requirement if they were to return to the top of the Premier League table.

For Arsene Wenger, for goalscorers Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere and a collected defensive display in the final ten minutes in the West Midlands, it was mission accomplished.

As quoted by Sky Sports, a pleased Wenger said: 'In the first half, we were more about playing, and the second half we were more about fighting. We got the answer, even if maybe we had some dangerous situations in front of goal. They made it very physical, put the ball high up in the air and played with three through the middle.

'We needed a very good, resilient performance in the second half.'

There are perhaps no better players more demonstrative of Arsenal's fighting spirit than Mathieu Flamini, oft making statements on the club's official website about the importance to battle for every ball, to rekindle the spirit of former Gunners sides that contained club greats such as Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams and the midfield terrier himself returned highly commendable statistics.

While the headlines will rightfully bear the name of Jack Wilshere, lauded by Here Is The City sub editor Alan Dawson as a future captain in waiting, the role of Flamini can never be understated.

As the Frenchman was responsible for four interceptions, six clearances, won 66% of his aerial duels, won the ball 100% of the time he attempted a tackle and registered an 88% passing accuracy statistic.

Having reclaimed pole position, Arsenal now have four days rest/training, before they host fellow Londoners, Fulham, on Saturday, January 18. Manchester City, meanwhile, entertain Cardiff City on the same day but Chelsea take on Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

On the title race, Wenger said: 'Let's take care of our performances. Then, you have to go forward always and get points, and see if you can make a difference with other teams.'

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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