Birmingham: Fourth-placed Arsenal opened up a four-point gap over Manchester United in fifth in the Premier League standings after Bukayo Saka’s first-half strike earned them a 1-0 victory at Aston Villa on Saturday.
Looking to get back to winning ways following their midweek defeat to Liverpool – their first loss in seven in all competitions – Arsenal dominated the opening period in the Villa Park sunshine.
Their fine, flowing first-half football deserved more than the one goal given to them by Saka on the half-hour mark – Arsenal’s 2,000th Premier League strike.
Villa did not have a single shot, on or off target, in the first half, but improved after the break, finally having an effort at goal in the 61st minute when Scottish midfielder John McGinn curled just wide.
However, Arsenal remained content to sit on their 1-0 lead until the final whistle, holding on in relative comfort to move on to 54 points, four clear of United in their bid to secure the final Champions League qualification spot.
A second successive defeat for a below-par Villa means they stay ninth.
English Premier League results and fixtures
Saturday: Villa 0-1 Arsenal
Sunday: Leicester City v Brentford (King Power Stadium, 1600), Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 1830)