By FOX Sports Staff
It took only five minutes for Arsenal to take the lead through Santi Cazorla, who reacted fastest in the box to give the Gunners an early lead. It was a one sided affair in the first half as Aston Villa barely threatened Wojciech Szczesny's goal.
Villa improved after the restart and looked most likely to score on the counter, and they did just that. Andreas Weimann was allowed to carry the ball further up the pitch and scored from distance in the 68th minute. All eyes will be on Szczesny as the replays showed that he should have done better to parry Weimann's weak shot but Villa were back in the game.
Aston Villa's confidence grew after their goal but barely created any clear cut opportunities to lift them from the relegation zone. However it was the little Spaniard once again who came up with an 85th minute winner, scoring his second goal in the game to ease the pressure off his manager and give his team a much needed morale boost.
Wojciech Szczesny - 5.5
It was supposed to be a relatively easy game for the Arsenal shot stopper but he allowed a Weimann shot slip past him which could have been saved. Fortunately for him, it did not cost his side any points.
Per Mertesacker - 6
Defending against the Villa counter attacks could be a chore without the big man at the back to head away the knock downs from the Villa players. Both the centre-backs need to keep things tight at the back as they looked really exposed at times especially in recent weeks.
Thomas Vermaelen - 6.5
Vermaelen was out of position when Villa equalised as he helped Arsenal try to get a second goal. However, it's harsh to put him down as he bossed his defence well for majority of the game when the Gunners were ahead.
Nacho Monreal - 6.5
The Spaniard came in during the January transfer window and is looking like he was born to play at the Emirates. He still needs to work on his positioning when Villa had possession but on the whole Monreal had much joy going forward and provided many dangerous moments for Arsenal's attack.
Carl Jenkinson - 6.5
Jenkinson was a more than capable replacement for the injured Bacary Sagna. He worked well with Walcott down the right and the quality of his crosses into the Villa penalty area was excellent.
Abou Diaby (61' off) - 4.5
As a player who prefers to hold up play or run with the ball, Diaby appeared to be a very disruptive presence for a free flowing side like Arsenal. The only good thing worth mentioning was that his crosses directed at Giroud were accurate but he is one of those players who came under Arsene Wenger's wings and never really developed.
Mikel Arteta - 7
Arteta picked up the scraps from deep, which allowed him time and space on the ball to create chances for his side. The midfield anchor may not have the flair of Cazorla or Wilshere, but he gets the job done.
Jack Wilshere - 6.5
Wilshere was the driving force for the Arsenal midfield with his positive runs and awareness on the pitch but did not have the luxury of having too much time on the ball as he was frequently closed down by the Villa midfielders.
Theo Walcott (91' off) - 5
Walcott was in and out of the game and never really create anything from the wide areas of the pitch. He should have made way for Lukas Podolski much earlier in the game.
Santi Cazorla - 9
Cazorla had a huge slice of luck when his shot went between two Villa defender's legs to give Arsenal the much needed early lead. He saw plenty of the ball and was the only person worth cheering for in these dark times for the Arsenal faithful.
Olivier Giroud - 7
Giroud had multiple chances to get his name on the score sheet but he was always a fraction too slow or a yard too quick and was flagged offside. His aerial presence and ability to play his team mates is an asset for his manager - which was clearly evident in midweek against Bayern Munich.
Aaron Ramsey (61' on) - 6.5
The most used substitute for Arsenal this season had 30 minutes in this game and impressed everyone with his energetic runs and his hunger to win the ball.
Lukas Podolski (76' on) - 6
The German was thrown into the match to get the crucial goal but he ended up looking lost instead. He got into good goal scoring positions but just couldn't apply the finish.
Laurent Koscielny (91' on)
Brad Guzan - 6
The Aston Villa was not at fault for either of the goals as there were very minimal, if any protection in front of him at times. Fortunately for Villa the home side were not at in a goal scoring mood or the scoreline would have been larger.
Ciaran Clark - 6
Clark did a commendable job organizing the defence in the absence of Ron Vlaar and watched Giroud well. He threw his body around to deny any Arsenal player's attempt from distance as well.
Matthew Lowton - 6.5
Lowton could not get his footing right when Cazorla showed great control of the ball in the penalty box to score but recovered soon after the goal and snubbed out a serious of attacks. He gave Monreal something to worry about with his overlapping runs as well.
Nathan Baker - 7
Baker was rock solid at the back and was contented to hack the ball clear on numerous occasions to concede a corner and slow the play down to disrupt Arsenal momentum.
Joseph Bennett - 6.5
The left back was always second best to Walcott in terms of speed but it is obvious that he did his homework and did not allow the winger through on goal the entire match.
Ashley Westwood (73' off) - 5.5
Despite his hard work, he had a insignificant impact on the game and was outclassed by the Arsenal midfield.
Fabian Delph - 6
It was an inefficient performance from Delph as he failed to really keep a close eye on the likes of Wilshere and Cazorla. He seemed to be on the pitch to make the numbers.
Andreas Weimann - 7.5
The Austrian had a very bright first half, always drifting wide to stretch the Arsenal defence but it was only in the 68th minute that Villa got their breakthrough from a counter attack.
Gabriel Agbonlahor - 6.5
Agbonlahor had a shot shot deflected in the 10th minute but it was easily dealt with by Szczesny. He was always the willing runner and exploited the gaps from the Arsenal back four to put in dangerous balls into the penalty box.
Charles N'Zogbia (82' off) - 6.5
The only notable contribution from the Frenchman was that first-time shot that forced a save from Szczesny. He was otherwise trapped in his own half trying to win possession back for his team.
Christian Benteke - 6
Benteke had the entire goal at his mercy but was a fraction too slow to meet Agbonlahor's cross shortly after Arsenal take the lead. That was perhaps his only chance to level the scores as he never stood a chance against Mertesacker and Vermaelen.
Karim El Ahmadi (73' on) - 5.5
Only his second appearance for Villa and like the player he replaced, offered very little going forward.
Simon Dawkins (82' on)