Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s stunning free-kick helped 10-man Arsenal come from behind to beat Aston Villa in a pulsating encounter at Emirates Stadium.

Aubameyang curled home his seventh goal of the season with six minutes remaining to complete a remarkable turnaround for the Gunners, who had Ainsley Maitland-Niles sent off after 41 minutes.

John McGinn flicked home Anwar El Ghazi’s cross to put Villa ahead after 20 minutes before Maitland-Niles was shown a second yellow card.

Arsenal levelled early in the second period thanks to Nicolas Pepe’s first goal for the club from the penalty spot only for Wesley to restore Villa’s lead from Jack Grealish’s low cross less than two minutes later.

But in a thrilling conclusion, substitute Calum Chambers’ close-range finish brought the Gunners level on 81 minutes before Aubameyang’s late strike secured their third Premier League win of the season to lift Unai Emery’s side back into the top four.

The result was harsh on Villa, who impressed for long periods but paid the price for dropping far too deep in the closing stages and inviting Arsenal pressure. A fourth defeat from six league games means they remain in the bottom three.

Thrilling finish masks Arsenal’s defensive shortcomings

After opting for a mix of youth and experience for Thursday’s Europa League win at Eintracht Frankfurt, Emery recalled the bulk of his senior stars for the meeting with Villa.

That meant the Spaniard went with the same back four that lost a two-goal lead at Watford last weekend, and another shaky performance here means they have still not kept a clean sheet in the league since the opening day of the season, conceding 10 goals in five games.

The defensive problems ultimately did not cost them the result against Villa, but Emery cannot rely on his attacking players to bail out his team all the time if they are to make a sustained challenge for the top four.

A lack of urgency and desire to close the Villa players down led to the opening goal, with El Ghazi given plenty of time to cross for McGinn, who found himself completely unmarked after ghosting ahead of Matteo Guendouzi.

Guendouzi summed up Arsenal’s performance, he was often sloppy in possession and his failure to track McGinn led to the first goal, but he led by example in the closing stages with a series of driving runs into the penalty area.

One of those runs drew a sloppy tackle from Bjorn Engels, allowing Pepe to equalise from the spot early in the second half.

After Arsenal went behind again Guendouzi drew a fine save from Tom Heaton, who pushed his low drive from the edge of the box on to the post.

With Villa seemingly unable to get out of their final third, Arsenal’s pressure finally told.

A mistake by Tyone Mings allowed Chambers, brought on in response to Maitland-Niles’ dismissal, to stab a looping effort beyond Heaton.

Then, after Aubameyang was brought down just outside the area, the Gabon striker curled beyond an unmoved Heaton to send the Emirates crowd, who were frustrated for much of the afternoon, into raptures.

More to follow.

Line-ups

Arsenal

  • 1LenoBooked at 90mins
  • 15Maitland-NilesBooked at 41mins
  • 5Papastathopoulos
  • 23David Luiz
  • 31Kolasinac
  • 29GuendouziBooked at 44mins
  • 34XhakaBooked at 35minsSubstituted forWillockat 72′minutes
  • 19PépéBooked at 85mins
  • 8CeballosSubstituted forTorreiraat 72′minutes
  • 77SakaSubstituted forChambersat 45′minutes
  • 14AubameyangBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 10Özil
  • 11Torreira
  • 21Chambers
  • 24Nelson
  • 26Martínez
  • 28Willock
  • 35Martinelli

Aston Villa

  • 1Heaton
  • 24Guilbert
  • 22EngelsBooked at 83mins
  • 40Mings
  • 3Taylor
  • 7McGinn
  • 11NakambaSubstituted forHourihaneat 85′minutes
  • 10Grealish
  • 17TrézéguetSubstituted forEl Mohamadyat 68′minutes
  • 9Wesley
  • 21El GhaziSubstituted forLansburyat 86′minutes

Substitutes

  • 8Lansbury
  • 12Steer
  • 14Hourihane
  • 15Konsa
  • 23Jota
  • 27El Mohamady
  • 39Davis
Referee:
Jonathan Moss
Attendance:
60,331

Match Stats

Home TeamArsenalAway TeamAston Villa
Possession
Home58%
Away42%
Shots
Home21
Away14
Shots on Target
Home6
Away9
Corners
Home9
Away4
Fouls
Home13
Away15

Live Text

Match ends, Arsenal 3, Aston Villa 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Arsenal 3, Aston Villa 2.

Booking

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal).

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Neil Taylor (Aston Villa).

Hand ball by John McGinn (Aston Villa).

Attempt missed. Lucas Torreira (Arsenal) left footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Calum Chambers.

Booking

Bernd Leno (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

Lucas Torreira (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Neil Taylor (Aston Villa).

Foul by Calum Chambers (Arsenal).

Neil Taylor (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa).

Attempt blocked. Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ahmed El Mohamady.

Foul by Joe Willock (Arsenal).

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal).

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ahmed El Mohamady (Aston Villa).

Substitution

Substitution, Aston Villa. Henri Lansbury replaces Anwar El Ghazi.

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by David Luiz.

Booking

Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

Substitution

Substitution, Aston Villa. Conor Hourihane replaces Marvelous Nakamba.

Goal!

Goal! Arsenal 3, Aston Villa 2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) from a free kick with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.

Booking

Björn Engels (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Björn Engels (Aston Villa).

Attempt saved. Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Frederic Guilbert.

Goal!

Goal! Arsenal 2, Aston Villa 2. Calum Chambers (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal.

Attempt missed. David Luiz (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Lucas Torreira with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Marvelous Nakamba.

Attempt blocked. Calum Chambers (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Joe Willock.

Attempt missed. Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Sead Kolasinac with a headed pass.

Offside, Arsenal. Matteo Guendouzi tries a through ball, but Sead Kolasinac is caught offside.

Attempt blocked. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Nicolas Pépé.

Foul by Lucas Torreira (Arsenal).

goal