Arsenal showed their title credentials by weathering Villa storm

Arsenal's 2-1 win against Aston Villa was their fourth league win on the bounce, but they had to work for it...

When your side is leading 2-0 going into the latter stages of the game, you think it is almost job done, a win on the board.

Arsenal were in that position away to Aston Villa last night and then conceded a Christian Benteke header; cue an onslaught from the home side and a true test of the Gunners' credentials to be regarded as serious title winners.

They weathered the storm as a lot of aerial bombardment came their way; if they did not win the first ball, they won the second – and although people will have said Benteke should have equalised with a header, not enough credit is given to Bacary Sagna at the far post by getting tight to the Belgian, and maybe giving him a little nudge that did not allow him to execute that header quite how he would have liked.

In possession Arsenal took time out of the game and still looked to get forward to kill the game off, but in years gone by there may have been a Villa equaliser – something to cast doubt over whether Arsenal had the mettle to see out the difficult games.

There will have been those queuing up to write off Arsenal’s title challenge, the same old story and their chances of lifting their first title since 2004 had faded a little.

Though Wenger’s side has not been renowned for their bite and steel in recent years, it does have a good amount of resolve that sides find hard to break down, especially in the centre back pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. The reality is they gave them very little opportunity to be pegged back to 2-2.

It is not talked about to the same degree, probably because of the calibre of Manchester City and Chelsea who are in hot pursuit, but Arsenal weathering the late Villa storm last night has enhanced their credentials, and their chance of coming out on top in May.

image: © Matt and Kim Rudge

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