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Arsenal strike late to seal ‘massive’ comeback win at Villa

Arsenal sealed a confidence-boosting victory ahead of next week’s League Cup final after a late flurry of goals saw them come from a goal down to secure a 3-1 win at Villa Park.

Just over a week after kick-off in their game against Chelsea was delayed by 30 minutes because of a kit issue, Arsenal ran into problems again ahead of kick-off. The start of the game at Villa Park was delayed by 45 minutes with the Gunners delayed by traffic.

With the Gunners’ title hopes left in tatters by that 3-1 defeat at Chelsea last time out, Jonas Eidevall’s side were staring at another loss at half-time after Ebony Salmon gave Aston Villa a 35th-minute lead.

Team news

  • Aston Villa were unchanged from the side that beat Everton 2-1 in the WSL last weekend.
  • Arsenal made four changes to the side that lost 3-1 at Chelsea last time out. Lia Walti was ruled out of the squad through injury, while Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley, and Stina Blackstenius dropped to the bench as Alessia Russo, Cloe Lacasse, Frida Maanum and Emily Fox started. Laura Wienroither was also back on the bench after nearly 12 months out with a knee injury.

However, much like in the first half, Arsenal piled the pressure on at the start of the second 45 minutes and were eventually rewarded with an equaliser in the 54th minute when Victoria Pelova converted a rebound after goalkeeper Anna Leat denied Alessia Russo.

The Gunners pushed for a winner and it looked like it might never come as Frida Maanum and Russo both struck the woodwork.

Rachel Daly chases down Leah Williamson for the ball in their WSL contest at Villa Park
Image: Rachel Daly chases down Leah Williamson for the ball in their WSL contest at Villa Park

However, their dominance was eventually rewarded as Lotte Wubben-Moy’s header (84) and Stina Blackstenius’ late strike (86) sealed a much-needed victory for Arsenal ahead of next week’s League Cup final against Chelsea.

The win strengthens Arsenal’s position in third and they remain six points behind leaders Chelsea and second-placed Man City.

‘Arsenal took their chances and wore them down in the end’

Sky Sports’ Karen Carney:

“The first half they had lots of chances and just did not take them, they then made changes and Villa dropped too deep and got tired.

“But that was because Arsenal took their chances and wore them down in the end.

“Overall Arsenal deserved the three points, but it was not a flawless performance.”

Analysis: ‘Massive win for Arsenal’

Sky Sports’ Izzy Christiansen:

“That is a massive win for Arsenal. After going in behind at half-time and the defeat to Chelsea last weekend, to be going into next weekend’s cup final with that feeling they will have in that huddle right now, that winning feeling which they needed.

“They now have a really enthusiastic squad going into a cup final, places up for grabs in the team, you need to have a good week’s training to prepare for that game.

“So yes leaving with three points was the number-one priority for Arsenal, they have got that, but they had to work hard for it.”

Eidevall: A really good response

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Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall reflects on a tough victory against WSL opponents Aston Villa after coming back from a goal down.

Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall on Sky Sports:

“We had to accumulate a lot of shots and chances to force them into conceding and she [Leat] had a great game and so did we as team.

“It was a decent first half from us, we were by far the better team, but we conceded a goal from their only chance and that made it a more challenging second half for us.

“But the way the team responded and kept on suffocating Villa, to keep piling on pressure and creating chances, I thought was great, a really good response from us.

“It’s one game at a time. More importantly it’s to see what a performance like this can do. Second half was a great display of playing the Arsenal way.”

On the League Cup final, he added: “Really looking forward to that. We have great memories from the final last year. We’re going to do our best to recreate them.”

Pelova: We all needed a bit of confidence after Chelsea

Victoria Pelova scored the equaliser for Arsenal against Aston Villa
Image: Victoria Pelova scored the equaliser for Arsenal against Aston Villa

Player of the Match Arsenal midfielder Victoria Pelova on Sky Sports:

“We all needed a bit of confidence after the game against Chelsea, but we showed even if we are 1-0 down we can turn it around, so that is a good thing.

“I was looking and it was about 75 minutes and she [Leat] was just having every single ball! And I thought there cannot be 15 minutes more!

“But she did well, and I am happy for her in that way, but glad we scored!

“In football, confidence goes up and down, when we beat Chelsea 4-1 we had lots of confidence, and if you lose, it is not that it goes away, but it is good that we won, and how we won today.”

The goals…

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Ebony Salmon gives Aston Villa the lead against Arsenal in their WSL clash.

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Victoria Pelova equalises for Arsenal in their WSL clash with Aston Villa.

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Lotte Wubben-Moy scores in the 84th minute to complete the comeback for Arsenal.

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Stina Blackstenius scores Arsenals third goal to secure the win for Arsenal against Aston Villa in the WSL

Ward: Top-six finish tough but achievable

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Watch Carla Ward’s interview after Aston Villa defeat in the WSL against Arsenal.

Aston Villa boss Carla Ward on Sky Sports:

“We knew we’d have to be resolute and compact. It was important we stuck together and dug in tonight and we did that. We had to ride a number of waves but we did that really well. It’s frustrating to come away having conceded two late goals.

“I still haven’t been allowed near the players [due to sickness]. I did radio down to let them know I had immense pride. We have to build on that. We need to take that into games that are winnable and try and get some points on the board.”

On aiming for a top-six finish: “It’s achievable. It’s tough. Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are all fighting for that. We have to try and get as many points as we possibly can.”

Salmon: Positives for Villa

Aston Villa forward Ebony Salmon on Sky Sports:

“We knew it was going to be a tough game, like you said bodies on the line for the 90 minutes. Every single player out there worked as hard as they could.

“The coaches just said that if we take that hard work and effort into every game we will start picking up points.

“There were positive moments in the game and as a team we need to do better to take those chances when they do arrive.”

What’s next?

Aston Villa are next in action when they host Leicester in the WSL on Saturday; kick-off 12.30pm. Villa then travel to Chelsea on Sunday April 21; kick-off 2pm.

Arsenal’s next game is against Chelsea in the League Cup final at Molineux on Sunday; kick-off 3pm.

The Gunners then host Leicester in the WSL on Sunday April 21; kick-off 2pm.

Sky News
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