Cesc Fabregas came on as a second-half substitute to completely turn this game in Arsenal’s favor by first scoring a sublime free kick from outside the area and second, by latching on to an exquisite Theo Walcott pass to secure all three points for the Gunners. But immediately after scoring the second goal, Fabregas pulled up and could be seen wincing from an injury that could derail Arsenal’s title chances such is the impact that the Spaniard has on this Arsene Wenger side.
Fabregas was substituted and shortly afterwards Diaby put the icing on the cake as he scored from a wonderful solo effort. Despite winning 3-0, the game was not as one-sided as the scoreline suggests. Aston Villa gave Arsenal a run for their money in the first half and could have gone ahead on several occasions after a shakey Arsenal defense had problems clearing the ball from the box each time it was floated in.
This was a pulsating and entertaining match that was open from the moment it kicked off. It was a battle between the continentals, Arsenal, who played their usual brand of wonderful football, against the British style of Aston Villa, who played a more physical and counter-attacking football and defended extremely well.
While Aston Villa defended well, especially with Emile Heskey coming back to help out on several occasions, Arsenal started brilliantly but then lost the plot a little when they started trying to float desperate long crosses into their opponent’s half. It was a game where they looked like they would be unable to get all three points unless some magic was created. And that magic was Fabregas, who completely turned the game and instantly used his imagination to create several clear-cut chances for Arsenal when before there was nothing.
After Arsenal scored the first goal from the Fabregas free kick, the remainder of the game was a true test for Arsenal to see how they could hold on to the lead. And how well they did as they put the game completely out of Villa’s reach, despite Brad Friedel’s herculean efforts in goal for Villa.
The 3-0 victory will send a loud message to the rest of the Premier League that Arsenal means business. The challenge however will be whether they can figure out a way to do it if and when Fabregas is injured. The three points today are a massive confidence boost, but if Fabregas is injured as a result, at what cost did it come?