Arsenal 3 – 2 Aston Villa
Robin Van Persie inspired Arsenal to a stunning comeback win at home against Aston Villa, to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup. Aston Villa had taken the lead through Darren Bent and had doubled their advantage just before half time thanks to Richard Dunne, but two Van Persie penalties either side of a Theo Walcott goal ensured Arsenal still had silverware in their sights this season.
Arsenal started brightly and Villa had ‘keeper Shay Given to thank for maintaining the scores at level after he produced a magnificent save from Thomas Vermaleen’s long range effort. England winger Theo Walcott then had a chance to convert Arsenal’s early pressure into a goal, but his poor effort went wide of Given’s post.
At times this season Arsenal’s defending has been anything other than Premier league standards, and Villa made them pay with a well worked corner kick routine that saw Dunne head home from close range, after a teasing cross from the on loan Robbie Keane. And on the stroke of half-time, Villa doubled their advantage thanks to record signing Darren Bent, who was quickest to the rebound after Lukas Fabianski could only parry.
But Arsenal, who have only lost one of the 34 home FA Cup games under Arsène Wenger, showed something that had been missing from their poor start to the season, resilience. Villa’s opening goal scorer Dunne was lucky to remain on the pitch after he brought down Aaron Ramsey in the area, allowing the prolific Van Persie to half the deficit.
And a little over 3 minutes later, the scores were again set to level. Walcott’s darting run into the penalty area gave him the opportunity to make amends for his earlier miss, and as Alan Hutton tried to clear Walcott’s goal bound shot, he only managed to kick the ball directly at Walcott, giving Arsenal the momentum going into the final half an hour of the match.
It would take less than five minutes for Arsenal to complete the comeback, this time it was Bent who fouled Laurent Koscielny in the box, leaving the honours to captain fantastic Van Persie, who sealed the win and Arsenal’s place in the next round.