Thomas Partey finally scored his first Premier League goal as Arsenal dominated Aston Villa in a 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Emile Smith Rowe were also on the scoresheet for Mikel Arteta’s side, who were a class above their opponents across the 90 minutes and could have won by a bigger margin.
Arsenal gave a first Premier League start of the season to Alexandre Lacazette. In addition, Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga also came into the lineup. Villa, in contrast, did not change any personnel from their most recent fixture.
Partey opened the scoring from a set piece a , heading past Emi Martinez after an excellent delivery from Smith Rowe for his first Arsenal goal. With 30 minutes on the clock, Saka was put clean through by Tavares but Martinez somehow managed to sweep up the shot with his feet.
The decisive moment came just before half time, when Lacazette followed up on 45 minutes of useful scampering by nipping in front of Matt Targett in the box and drawing a foul.
While Villa initially thought they’d got away with it, Craig Pawson signalled for a VAR intervention and went to the monitor. The penalty was awarded and, after an initial save from Martinez, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored at the second time of asking. The half-time stats made grim reading for Smith, with Arsenal totting up 14 shots – with five on target – to Villa’s none.
Despite bringing on Leon Bailey and switching from a back five to a back four in the second half, there was little Smith could do to resurrect his side. While Arsenal were initially pinned back, Smith Rowe scored a solo goal on the counter-attack and, despite a late consolation for Jacob Ramsey, the hosts ambled to victory.
Just one point separated the two sides ahead of kick-off. Each had won three of their opening eight league games, but Arsenal had one more draw and one fewer defeat on their record than Villa.