Sunday, May 15, 2011

Darren Bent at the double to sink Gunners

Darren Bent scored twice as Aston Villa eased any lingering fears of relegation with a 2-1 win away to Arsenal on Sunday.

The Gunners went into the match knowing that two victories in their final two games would secure third position in the Premier League and ensure a route straight into the group stages of the Champions League.

 But after a woeful start at the Emirates Stadium, in which they conceded twice within the first 15 minutes, Arsenal never looked likely to get back into the contest.

 They left the pitch to a chorus of boos, and with fans also making a very vocal protest at next season’s proposed ticket price rises, there was an atmosphere of clear dissent in north London. 

Villa will not care, though, as they were the better team and fully deserved their victory.

 They have not always played to their potential this season, but the January signing of Bent for 24 million pounds now appears to have been an inspired decision.

 The former Sunderland striker has now scored nine goals from 18 shots on target in the Premier League since his move, and he took both strikes brilliantly here.

 The first came from Stiliyan Petrov’s long ball, which Bent took down on his chest before volleying home in one movement.

And he doubled the lead when Ashley Young took advantage of a slip by the returning Thomas Vermaelen to play in Bent, who duly slid the ball under Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

The stunned hosts should have had a penalty when Richard Dunne brought down Aaron Ramsey inside the box.

It appeared a certain foul and could have led to a red card, but referee Michael Oliver waved play on. 

Robin Van Persie then hit the post, but any lingering hopes Arsenal had of staging a comeback ended when Oliver disallowed Marouane Chamakh’s second-half header for a push on Kyle Walker.

The decision again appeared to be extremely harsh.

Arsenal did pull a goal back in the final minute through Van Persie, who poked home after a loose ball fell to him inside the area, but it was too late for Arsene Wenger's side to mount a comeback.

 Villa were rarely troubled as they claimed a morale-boosting victory, while Arsenal’s campaign, which had promised so much, appears set to end with a whimper. 


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