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PREMIER LEAGUE: Aston Villa heap more misery on Arsenal

Aston Villa have pushed six points clear of the relegation zone with an inspired 2-1 away win at Arsenal.

Darren Bent was the man for Villa, scoring both goals as they grabbed a first win in four matches to ensure safety and Premier League football for next season.

The former Sunderland man scored with a brilliant finish in the 11th minute when he controlled with his chest before volleying home and then doubled the advantage in the 15th minute when he slotted home a neat Ashley Young through ball.

Arsenal were extremely unlucky not to have a penalty when Richard Dunne tackled Aaron Ramsey in the area on the half-hour mark and then referee Michael Oliver awarded a free-kick to Dunne when Robin van Persie turned him on the edge of the area and would have played Ramsey free.

Marouane Chamakh had his 77th minute header disallowed for a foul on Kyle Walker, however, it wasn't to be for the home side despite a late consolation goal from van Persie.

The loss now has them in danger of losing a top-three position as Manchester City are only two points behind with a game in hand as Villa moved up to 13th with their first victory at Arsenal since 2008.

Arsenal: 1 (Robin van Persie 89') Aston Villa: 2 (Darren Bent 11'/15')

Venue: Emirates Stadium, North London Crowd: 60,023 Referee: Michael Oliver Yellow cards:ARS - Nicklas Bendtner 77' AV - Nigel Reo-Coker 25', Stiliyan Petrov 35', Richard Dunne 64', Ashley Young 90'

It was a cagey opening with neither side really showing any zip until Villa got forward and put the ball in the back of the net in the 11th minute. GOAL Kyle Walker's chipped ball into the area from the back half was controlled by an on-side Darren Bent who brought it down with his chest before volleying over Wojciech Szczesny for his eighth goal in 15 matches for the club.

GOAL About three minutes later, Villa were 2-0 up when Ashley Young slipped a neat little ball through to Bent and the England striker needed no second invitation to slot past Szczesny much to the dismay of the Emirates crowd.

Arsenal did not seem themselves although you cannot take anything away from Villa who were right on top of their game and making the most of any opportunities they had.

There were calls for an Arsenal penalty just before the half-hour mark when Aaron Ramsey was felled in the area by Richard Dunne but referee Michael Oliver waved away the protests minutes before Robin van Persie's effort, after a brilliant piece of skill, went across goal and hit the far upright as the luck for the home team seemed non-existent.

Just before the half-time whistle, the referee made another questionable decision when van Persie turned Dunne on the edge of the area before finding Aaron Ramsey in the area but the play was called back for a foul on Dunne, which is hard to fathom when the Gunners striker was in front of his opponent and clearly won the ball. However, Villa went into half-time with a two-goal lead after producing a scintillating opening 15 minutes.

Arsenal were much brighter in the second half and cam extremely close to clawing their way back when Kieran Gibbs played a one-two with van Persie but his attempt from inside the area was well-saved by Brad Friedel.

The Gunners were coming hard and again were inches away when substitute Nicklas Bendtner found Theo Walcott with a header but the speedy winger was unable to turn in his front post shot.

All of the play was in the Arsenal attacking third and the ball was in the back of the net in the 77th minute when Marouane Chamakh powerfully headed home but was adjudged to have pushed Kyle Walker in what was another questionable decision by referee Oliver.

Friedel came up with a vital save in the 83rd minute when van Persie was played in but the American veteran was equal to the task, as he had been all day, but six minutes later the Gunners finally got one back. GOAL Bendtner drove into the area and as the Villa defence pounced on the Dane, the ball fell to van Persie who flicked it in with his left foot for his 17th league goal of the season and 21st in total.

van Persie's strike proved to be a consolation as Villa held out the advances of the home side to record a special 2-1 win ahead of their trip to Liverpool as the Gunners head to Fulham next Sunday.

Starting Line-Ups

Arsenal Wojciech Szczesny (gk) - Bacary Sagna, Sebastien Squillaci (Chamakh 46'), Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs - Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Alex Song, Andrey Arshavin (Bendtner 62') - Robin van Persie, Aaron Ramsey

Subs - Jens Lehmann (gk), Marouane Chamakh (46'), Nicklas Bendtner (62'), Emmanuel Eboue, Denilson, Conor Henderson, Ignasi Miquel

Villa Brad Friedel (gk) - Kyle Walker, James Collins, Richard Dunne, Luke Young - Fabian Delph, Stiliyan Petrov (Bradley 80'), Nigel Reo-Coker - Stewart Downing, Darren Bent, Ashley Young

Subs - Andy Marshall (gk), Michael Bradley (80'), Emile Heskey (90+1'), Robert Pires, Carlos Cuellar, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Marc Albrighton

 It's kicking off again! Click here for your No1 source for Aston Villa transfer market news and gossip.

 It's kicking off again! Click here for your No1 source for Arsenal transfer market news and gossip.

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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