Arsenal moved three points clear of Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League with a 3-0 win over a poor Aston Villa side.
First half goals from Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott put Arsene Wenger’s side in cruise control, before a spectacular free-kick by Mikel Arteta rounded off proceedings nicely.
The home wasted one or two chances as they came flying out the blocks once more, Theo Walcott couldn’t quite control Robin van Persie’s back flick after he had been put through by Tomas Rosicky – Bacary Sagna followed in but his shot was wild.
The Gunners did not have to wait long to go ahead and after 16 minutes they did just that, while Villa ‘keeper Shay Given will be disappointed with his role in the goal.
Gervinho picked up the ball on the edge of the box before playing a simple pass through the static Villa defence to the overlapping Gibbs, whose low shot was only helped in by Given.
It was a deserved lead for Arsene Wenger’s side, but the visitor’s had shown some early danger on the break with Albrighton firing over and then crossing poorly.
Alex McLeish will not be happy with his defence though, as they were run ragged in the first half from Arsenal’s movement, and it was just that which helped them double their lead in the 25th minute.
Alex Song picked out Walcott with what is now becoming a trademark lobbed through ball and the winger brought the ball down cleanly before sliding past Given at the near post – it was a clinical finish from a player who is often criticised for his responses in situations such as those.
The game was effectively over then as Villa could not get anything going and Given was called into action from a Van Persie header and powerful drive from Arteta on the edge of the area.
Stephen Warnock saved a definite third goal just before the half when good interplay from Song and Van Persie saw the Dutch striker stumble into a challenge with Alan Hutton.
The Arsenal captain somehow came up with the ball and dummied the onrushing Given and the prone Hutton with an exquisite drag back, but his goal bound shot was fantastically headed over by the covering Warnock.
The second half was more even affair and Villa could have registered on two separate occasions, but could not find the finishes through Andreas Weimann, who had come on for the ineffectual Heskey.
The game slowed to a canter for the hosts, but there was still time for mikel Arteta to light up the Emirates with a rocket of a free-kick from the impressive Mikel Arteta.
Villa sub Eric Lichaj was booked for a lunge on Song about 30 yards from goal and Arteta stepped up to smash the ball into the top corner to the left of Given.
It was a fitting end to a great day for the Gunners, as a draw between Spurs and Chelsea meant Wenger’s seventh league win in a row – the first time since 2007 – took them three points clear of their fierce rivals.