skip to content
Thomas Vermaelen concedes a free kick for a foul on Brad Friedel. Brad Friedel takes the free kick.
Unfair challenge on Robin van Persie by Richard Dunne results in a free kick. Robin van Persie takes the free kick. Thomas Vermaelen takes a shot. Blocked by Luke Young.
Foul by Fabian Delph on Alex Song, free kick awarded. Emile Heskey replaces Fabian Delph. Theo Walcott crosses the ball in from the free kick, James Collins makes a clearance.
Ashley Young is cautioned.
A goal is scored by Robin van Persie from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa.
The official flags Darren Bent offside. Free kick taken by Thomas Vermaelen.
Aaron Ramsey produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the target.
Darren Bent has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide right of the goal.
Theo Walcott challenges Ashley Young unfairly and gives away a free kick. Brad Friedel takes the free kick.
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Brad Friedel makes a save.
Michael Bradley concedes a free kick for a foul on Alex Song. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Theo Walcott.
Foul by Luke Young on Alex Song, free kick awarded. Bacary Sagna restarts play with the free kick.
Stewart Downing takes the inswinging corner, Nicklas Bendtner manages to make a clearance.
Michael Bradley is brought on as a substitute for Stiliyan Petrov.
Aaron Ramsey takes a shot. James Collins gets a block in.
Thomas Vermaelen takes a shot. James Collins gets a block in.
Inswinging corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, Alex Song takes a shot. Blocked by James Collins.
Marouane Chamakh takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
Unfair challenge on Kyle Walker by Marouane Chamakh results in a free kick. Nicklas Bendtner receives a caution. Brad Friedel takes the direct free kick.
Corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie to the near post, James Collins manages to make a clearance.
Theo Walcott takes a shot. Blocked by Richard Dunne.
Stewart Downing takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny.
Ashley Young takes a shot. Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.
Corner taken by Theo Walcott, save by Brad Friedel.
Shot by Aaron Ramsey from 12 yards. Blocked by James Collins.
Unfair challenge on Alex Song by Stiliyan Petrov results in a free kick. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Robin van Persie, blocked by Nigel Reo-Coker.
Robin van Persie takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, save by Brad Friedel.
The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
Fabian Delph concedes a free kick for a foul on Jack Wilshere. The ball is delivered by Theo Walcott, Bacary Sagna takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
Richard Dunne challenges Marouane Chamakh unfairly and gives away a free kick. Richard Dunne is given a yellow card. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Robin van Persie from right channel, James Collins manages to make a clearance.
Nicklas Bendtner is brought on as a substitute for Andrey Arshavin. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Aaron Ramsey from the left by-line, Theo Walcott produces a right-footed shot from close in which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
Shot on goal by Robin van Persie from just inside the area clears the crossbar.
Kieran Gibbs takes a shot. Brad Friedel makes a save. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Aaron Ramsey, clearance made by Stiliyan Petrov. Jack Wilshere takes a shot from just outside the penalty area which clears the crossbar.
Marouane Chamakh is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
Marouane Chamakh is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by James Collins.
The offside flag is raised against Theo Walcott. Indirect free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
Andrey Arshavin takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
Darren Bent takes a shot. Save made by Wojciech Szczesny.
Ashley Young has an effort at goal from long range that misses to the right of the target.
Sebastien Squillaci goes off and Marouane Chamakh comes on.
Robin van Persie concedes a free kick for a foul on Richard Dunne. Direct free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
The referee blows for offside. Wojciech Szczesny restarts play with the free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Kieran Gibbs on Kyle Walker. James Collins takes the direct free kick.
Corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie, Headed effort from inside the penalty area by Sebastien Squillaci misses to the right of the target.
Inswinging corner taken by Aaron Ramsey from the left by-line, Header from deep inside the area by Thomas Vermaelen goes over the bar.
Robin van Persie has an effort at goal from inside the penalty area that bounces off the post.
Stiliyan Petrov goes into the referee's book.
Corner taken right-footed by Andrey Arshavin from the left by-line to the near post, Brad Friedel makes a save.
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Richard Dunne gets a block in.
Alex Song gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Fabian Delph. James Collins takes the direct free kick.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nigel Reo-Coker by Jack Wilshere. Free kick taken by James Collins.
Robin van Persie takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, James Collins manages to make a clearance.
Shot from 30 yards from Bacary Sagna. Nigel Reo-Coker gets a block in.
Andrey Arshavin takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, Darren Bent makes a clearance.
Nigel Reo-Coker receives a yellow card.
Inswinging corner taken by Andrey Arshavin from the left by-line, save by Brad Friedel.
Thomas Vermaelen takes a shot. Kyle Walker gets a block in.
Stiliyan Petrov concedes a free kick for a foul on Alex Song. Sebastien Squillaci restarts play with the free kick.
The offside flag is raised against Ashley Young. Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.
The official flags Robin van Persie offside. Brad Friedel restarts play with the free kick.
A goal is scored by Darren Bent from deep inside the penalty area low into the middle of the goal. Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa.Assist by Ashley Young.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stiliyan Petrov by Robin van Persie. James Collins takes the direct free kick.
Nigel Reo-Coker concedes a free kick for a foul on Aaron Ramsey. Aaron Ramsey takes the free kick.
Corner taken right-footed by Andrey Arshavin, clearance made by Stiliyan Petrov.
Goal scored by Darren Bent from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Arsenal 0-1 Aston Villa.Assist on the goal came from Kyle Walker.
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Stewart Downing played to the near post, clearance by Thomas Vermaelen.
Aaron Ramsey challenges Stiliyan Petrov unfairly and gives away a free kick. Richard Dunne takes the free kick.
Unfair challenge on Alex Song by Nigel Reo-Coker results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Bacary Sagna.
Stiliyan Petrov takes a shot and missed to the left of the net.
Vermaelen poised for comeback
Centre-back Thomas Vermaelen is set to return for Arsenal after nine months out with a niggling Achilles problem in the Barclays Premier League clash with Aston Villa.
Captain Cesc Fabregas (thigh) and midfielder Samir Nasri (hamstring) face late fitness tests. Abou Diaby (calf) and Tomas Rosicky (thigh) are also out.
However, full-back Gael Clichy is available again after missing the defeat at Stoke with a hamstring problem.
Villa defender Ciaran Clark is out.
Assistant manager Gary McAllister confirmed that although Clark trained for nearly a full session today, he will not travel due to a niggly hamstring problem.
However, midfielder Jean Makoun does return to the squad after missing the last two matches with a dead leg injury.
Vermaelen admits it has been "horrible" sitting on the sidelines as Arsenal struggled defensively.
But he maintains the back four should not shoulder all the blame for the goals which have flowed past the Gunners to end trophy challenges on all fronts.
Vermaelen impressed in his debut Barclays Premier League campaign after a #10million move from Ajax during June 2009 and, in his absence, Arsenal's defence rarely looked as stable.
Manager Arsene Wenger feels if Vermaelen, an unused substitute in last weekend's defeat at Stoke, had been fit all season, some of the soft goals they conceded would not have transpired.
The Belgian, though, firmly believes keeping a clean sheet must always be collective responsibility.
"It has been a long period, which has been a horrible time, but it is finished now and I am happy to get back on the pitch," Vermaelen told Arsenal TV Online.
"I always thought I would be fit in a few weeks, and then had setbacks.
"However, I am cured now and it is absolutely fine."
Vermaelen said: "The other guys have done quite well, but there is always talk about the back four of Arsenal.
"Of course you have to defend well and have your individual qualities, but defending is always teamwork as well.
"You have to look at every goal we concede and say, `How did it come?'. It is not always a mistake just of the defenders, more or less it is from a few players.
"There have been too many games where we were not good enough."
Wenger recognised that Vermaelen's absence meant summer arrival Laurent Koscielny, sidelined tomorrow with a thigh problem, had to adapt to the hustle and bustle of the English game sooner than expected.
"Vermaelen has played just three games in the whole season, and that was not envisaged at all, because he is a solid player," said the Arsenal manager.
"To lose him for such a long time in the season was not ideal, however that matured Koscielny, who was planned to maybe get 20 games this season, and also Johan Djourou, who had a good season as well.
"However, we did not count at the start to have Vermaelen out for such a long time."
McAllister, meanwhile, is adamant none of his players are already thinking they are on their summer holiday.
Asked if his players thoughts had turned to sunnier climes and the prospect of lying on a beach, McAllister said: "There'll be none of that.
"The fact we're playing Arsenal and Liverpool in these final two games, that cannot be allowed to happen. Players with pride won't allow that to happen.
"They will be going in there pitting their wits against two very good teams, two sets of players you can measure yourself against."
Despite Villa's atrocious record in north London - both at Highbury and the Emirates Stadium which has seen them win just once in their last 16 visits - McAllister feels Villa can exploit the Gunners' current frailties.
Since back-to-back defeats to Barcelona and Manchester United in March to end their interest in the Champions League and FA Cup respectively, Arsenal have collected a mere 11 points from the last 27 on offer to slide out of contention in the title race.
"As an ex-player, this is a fixture you always look for," added McAllister.
"When I played I loved the fixture against Arsenal. It's always a great barometer for you to measure yourself against good players.
"Arsenal have been a fantastic team for a long time, and if you can go there and be a player and project yourself, it's a good sign you can cope with playing against good players and a good team.
"If you sit back and admire Arsenal and allow them to get into a rhythm then they can be very dangerous. There is no team as pretty on the eye as Arsenal can be.
"But they have had a tough, frustrating season as well, and as much as I'll pass on the strengths of Arsenal, we have to be looking at the weaknesses that have crept into recent results."
Bent sees off Gunners
Arsenal's frustrating end to the season continued as Aston Villa ran out 2-1 winners at Emirates Stadium after an early brace from Darren Bent.
The Gunners are now in real danger of seeing FA Cup winners Manchester City, who have a match in hand, overtake them in the race for automatic Champions League qualification after a third defeat in four games.
Bent struck twice inside the opening 15 minutes following more poor defending from Arsene Wenger's men.
While the Gunners boss will no doubt point to key decisions from referee Michael Oliver to turn down a first-half penalty shout and then rule out a close-range header from substitute Marouane Chamakh before Robin van Persie bundled home a late consolation, the boos which rang out at the final whistle sent a clear message that more of the same next season will not be tolerated.
There were plenty of empty seats at kick-off for the final home match in another season which promised so much but failed to deliver.
Wenger, though, used his programme notes to urge supporters - some of whom held protests on their way to the ground with thousands then leaving before the players' lap of appreciation - to continue to trust in his young team, and again pledged he would add "what is needed" over the summer.
It was a scrappy start by both sides, with no-one really getting hold of midfield possession.
Villa - who were in need of at least a point to mathematically secure their top-flight status - took the lead on 11 minutes.
A simple high ball from Kyle Walker drifted over Sebastien Squillaci and through to an unmarked Bent, who collected it on his chest and turned to volley past Wojciech Szczesny.
Before Arsenal could mount a comeback, they were 2-0 down inside 15 minutes.
A slip from Thomas Vermaelen, on his return from eight months out with an Achilles problem, allowed Ashley Young time on the ball. He slipped a pass through to Bent, with full-back Bacary Sagna left appealing for a non-existent offside as the England striker slotted into the bottom corner.
Villa, who had not won for three games, were in complete control as the Gunners - who just two months ago had genuine hopes of success in all competitions - failed to get out of first gear.
However, Aaron Ramsey felt he should have had a penalty when he was hacked down by Richard Dunne's flying challenge after collecting a chip into the Villa box, but despite replays showing no contact with the ball, referee Oliver was unconvinced and waved play on.
Van Persie was unfortunate not to be rewarded for his industry when collecting the ball in the left side of the penalty area, and twice turning defenders before a low strike across the face of goal came back off the post.
Arsenal had left the field with boos from disgruntled sections of the Emirates Stadium faithful ringing in their ears - and the substitution of the hapless Squillaci for Morocco striker Chamakh was greeted with sarcastic cheers.
A slip from Alex Song, dropped into the centre-back role, was almost punished as Bent raced clear, but Vermaelen recovered enough ground as the striker's shot-under-pressure was straight at Szczesny.
Arsenal were camped in Villa's half, yet without finding any creativity in the final third or halted by an offside flag.
When Van Persie did open up the defence after a neat one-two with Kieran Gibbs, Friedel made a smart save at his near post.
Szczesny twice denied Villa a third, first from Young's 20-yard effort and then beating away a follow-up from Stewart Downing at the near post.
Chamakh - whose last league goal came against Villa away in November when the Gunners could do no wrong - saw his close-range header ruled out for a push on Walker, with contact looking minimal at best.
Friedel denied Van Persie after the Dutchman was played in on the right side of the Villa penalty area.
Arsenal finally bundled the ball in through Van Persie during the final minute of normal time, but it was too little too late, as injured captain Cesc Fabregas was left to lead his team around the stadium once more with a sense of what might have been.
"Who will win the PL title this season - 2013/14?"
© 2004 - 2014 football.co.uk