John McGinn’s early goal led surging Aston Villa to a club-record 15th consecutive home Premier League victory on Saturday, a breathless 1-0 win over Arsenal that prevented Mikel Arteta’s Gunners from reclaiming top spot in the table.
Unai Emery’s Villa, which shocked champion Manchester City in a dominant 1-0 win on Wednesday, is now third on 35 points after 16 games in a jam-packed title race, while Arsenal, which was overtaken by Liverpool earlier on Saturday, is second with 36.
“I’m banning the T-word,” a laughing McGinn told Sky Sports, when asked if Villa was title contender. “It’s game week 16, so there’s a long, long way to go, and we respect everyone in front of us who have been in this position for years. We’re newbies. Can we keep it up? Hopefully.”
Villa Park was rocking in the seventh minute after Leon Bailey sprinted down the right wing before cutting back the ball and picking out McGinn. Villa’s captain took one touch, turned sharply and fired past keeper David Raya.
Arsenal thought it had equalised in added time before VAR determined Kai Havertz had handled the ball while firing it past keeper Emi Martinez from a goalmouth scramble.
Delighted fans sang “Hi Ho Aston Villa” at the final whistle.
“Well, it’s a great place to play football when the fans are behind you like that. It’s very, very difficult for away teams to come and play,” McGinn said of their remarkable home record. “I remember the last team to beat us here was Arsenal and that game certainly stung us, so today was a little bit of revenge.
“Long may it continue and if we keep our home form up, then hopefully we can achieve something this season.”
Arsenal had numerous chances to level, including several from Martin Odegaard. The Norwegian fired a low shot inches from the post, then another right at Martinez in the first half. Odegaard’s frustration continued after the interval, when he poked a shot from close range just wide of the post.
Bukayo Saka beat Martinez to fire into the empty net in the 61st minute but he was flagged for offside.
Arteta, whose north London team arrived on the heels of four successive wins, was relegated to the directors’ box for the game while he served a one-match ban after picking up his third red card of the season.
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