Goals from Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta gave Arsenal victory over Aston Villa and took their winning run to seven Premier League matches.
Gibbs exposed some poor defending and goalkeeping from Villa to put the hosts in front with a crisp low finish.
Arsenal were dominating their opponents and doubled the lead when the excellent Walcott collected Alex Song's lofted ball and slotted past Shay Given.
Arteta wrapped up the match in stoppage time with a stunning free-kick.
DID YOU KNOW
- This was the first time two Englishmen have scored in a Premier League game for Arsenal since 1997
It was another important result for the Gunners, moving them three points above fourth-placed Tottenham - who drew 0-0 with Chelsea earlier in the day - and continuing their superb upturn in form.
For much of the season their hopes of a top-four finish looked in serious doubt, but that now looks comfortably within their grasp.
Their day did not start so well as centre-back Laurent Koscielny pulled out of the side after feeling a knee injury during the warm-up.
More trouble loomed when his replacement, Johan Djourou, required lengthy treatment after being hit in the face by Emile Heskey's arm.
But the Swiss recovered and, aside from a Marc Albrighton drive that sailed over shortly after the re-start, Arsenal were in total control.
Villa had no answer to the pace of wingers Walcott and Gervinho, and allowed Arsenal far too much time and space to pick passes to the pair.
There was an early warning when Given parried Walcott's strike after a sharp exchange between Walcott, Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie.
Villa, who remain three places above the relegation zone, were desperately lacking the defensive leadership of injured captain Richard Dunne - never more so than when Arsenal opened the scoring.
Alan Hutton, Stilyan Petrov and Chris Herd stood still as Gibbs collected Gervinho's pass and fired in an effort that Given should have saved.
Walcott then skilfully met Thomas Vermaelen's diagonal ball and ghosted behind Stephen Warnock before Carlos Cueller arrived with vital clearance.
Villa had lost only one of their previous eight away games and they briefly threatened when Stephen Ireland broke clear and crossed towards Heskey, only for Vermaelen to intercept.
Arsenal were swiftly back on the offensive and their reward came when Song found Walcott and he stepped inside Cuellar to side-foot home.
Given saved well from a Van Persie header and Arteta's drive, while Warnock brilliantly nodded Van Persie's goalbound shot over the bar.
The second half was more even, with Djourou needing to be alert when Albrighton crossed for Gabriel Agbonlahor, while Song headed over and Tomas Rosicky tested Given from distance.
Both managers used their full quota of substitutes and one of Villa's, Andreas Weimann, benefited from an error by one of Arsenal's, Andre Santos, but dragged wide when clean through.
Arteta then had the final word, producing a magnificent set-piece with virtually the final kick.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
"We had a great first half. We knew we'd given a lot at Everton on Wednesday and the start was very important for us today.
"In the second half we dropped a bit our pace and level but what we've done this week is outstanding, given the quality of the game at Everton and today.
"They were three great goals. Villa defended well but we created chances, didn't concede and our momentum keeps going."
"At the moment we are in a strong position and it will be down to our results and how we play until the end of the season."
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish:
"You can come here and lose but we're disappointed in the manner we lost the first two goals - they were definitely preventable.
"We got in about them in the second half and Andy [Weimann] had a fine chance, but we didn't get that goal and Arteta wrapped it up.
"It's Arsenal we were playing, don't forget - one of the elite clubs.
"We did lay plans to try and win the game and definitely had the power and team to get goals, but the early goals nailed us."
- 13 Szczesny
- 03 Sagna
- 05 Vermaelen
- 20 Djourou
- 28 Gibbs (Santos - 68' )
- 07 Rosicky
- 08 Arteta
- 14 Walcott (Oxlade-Chamberlain - 77' )
- 17 Song
- 10 Van Persie
- 27 Gervinho (Ramsey - 68' )
- 21 Fabianski
- 11 Santos
- 25 Jenkinson
- 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
- 16 Ramsey
- 30 Benayoun
- 29 Chamakh
- 01 Given
- 02 Hutton (Lichaj - 78' Booked )
- 03 Warnock Booked
- 06 Collins Booked
- 24 Cuellar
- 07 Ireland Booked
- 12 Albrighton
- 19 Petrov Booked
- 31 Herd (Gardner - 52' )
- 11 Agbonlahor
- 18 Heskey (Weimann - 65' )
- 22 Guzan
- 30 Lichaj
- 32 Baker
- 25 Bannan
- 38 Gardner
- 40 Carruthers
- 26 Weimann
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.90:00 +2:29
Assist on the goal came from Alex Song.90:00 +2:29 Goal scored
Goal! - Mikel Arteta - Arsenal 3 - 0 A Villa Free kick scored by Mikel Arteta from outside the area to the top right corner of the goal. Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa.90:00 +1:11
Free kick awarded for a foul by Eric Lichaj on Alex Song.90:00 +1:04 Booking
Booking Caution for Eric Lichaj.89:33
Alex Song concedes a free kick for a foul on Marc Albrighton. Marc Albrighton takes the free kick.88:59
The ball is swung over by Bacary Sagna, clearance made by James Collins. Mikel Arteta decides to take the corner short.88:24 Booking
Booking James Collins booked for unsporting behaviour.88:11
Unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta by James Collins results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.82:58
Andreas Weimann takes a shot. Blocked by Thomas Vermaelen.80:45
Unfair challenge on Andreas Weimann by Alex Song results in a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Gary Gardner, Johan Djourou makes a clearance.77:48 Substitution
Substitution Eric Lichaj comes on in place of Alan Hutton.76:50 Substitution
Substitution Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes on in place of Theo Walcott.74:22
Aaron Ramsey produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.73:04
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Marc Albrighton.71:40
Theo Walcott fouled by Stephen Ireland, the ref awards a free kick. Cross/shot by Mikel Arteta.70:27
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Robin van Persie.69:40
Indirect free kick taken by Johan Djourou.69:40 Booking
Booking Stephen Ireland is booked.69:25
Free kick awarded for a foul by Stephen Ireland on Alex Song.
The ball is sent over by Andreas Weimann.68:32
The offside flag is raised against Robin van Persie. James Collins takes the indirect free kick.67:15 Substitution
Substitution Clarindo Andre Santos replaces Kieran Gibbs.67:15 Substitution
Substitution Aaron Ramsey replaces Yao Gervinho.66:34
Gary Gardner takes a shot. Corner taken short by Marc Albrighton. Thomas Vermaelen gets a block in.64:22 Substitution
Substitution Emile Heskey leaves the field to be replaced by Andreas Weimann.64:22
Tomas Rosicky takes a shot. Save by Shay Given. Theo Walcott challenges Stephen Warnock unfairly and gives away a free kick. Shay Given restarts play with the free kick.62:33
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Mikel Arteta from the left by-line, Alex Song has a header from inside the six-yard box and clears the crossbar.61:08
Tomas Rosicky takes a shot. Blocked by Stephen Warnock.59:35
Marc Albrighton crosses the ball, Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.58:59
Marc Albrighton sends in a cross, blocked by Yao Gervinho.58:29
Gabriel Agbonlahor produces a cross, clearance made by Johan Djourou. Outswinging corner taken by Marc Albrighton from the right by-line.56:33
Yao Gervinho sends in a cross.56:14
The ball is crossed by Marc Albrighton, save made by Wojciech Szczesny.55:03
The referee blows for offside against Stephen Ireland. Indirect free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.54:06
Robin van Persie crosses the ball.52:40
Gary Gardner challenges Tomas Rosicky unfairly and gives away a free kick. Mikel Arteta shoots direct from the free kick, blocked by Carlos Cuellar.51:42 Substitution
Substitution Chris Herd leaves the field to be replaced by Gary Gardner.51:42 Booking
Booking Caution for Stephen Warnock.51:31
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Theo Walcott by Stephen Warnock. Wojciech Szczesny takes the indirect free kick.51:06
Corner taken right-footed by Marc Albrighton, save by Wojciech Szczesny.50:58
The ball is swung over by Gabriel Agbonlahor, clearance by Bacary Sagna.48:49
Unfair challenge on Alan Hutton by Yao Gervinho results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Shay Given.48:18
The referee blows for offside against Gabriel Agbonlahor. Bacary Sagna takes the indirect free kick.47:25
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie from the right by-line to the near post, Header on goal by Tomas Rosicky from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.45:01
The referee starts the second half.45:00 +3:10 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.44:28
Chris Herd fouled by Robin van Persie, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Warnock.43:03
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Bacary Sagna by Stephen Ireland. Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.41:42
Inswinging corner taken by Mikel Arteta, Carlos Cuellar makes a clearance.41:14
Centre by Theo Walcott, clearance by James Collins. Robin van Persie takes the inswinging corner, Stephen Warnock makes a clearance.40:21
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Johan Djourou by Gabriel Agbonlahor. Free kick taken by Johan Djourou.39:23
Inswinging corner taken by Robin van Persie, clearance made by Stephen Warnock. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Mikel Arteta from the left by-line.38:51
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Save made by Stephen Warnock.36:36
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Shay Given makes a save.33:44
Carlos Cuellar produces a cross.32:14
The ball is swung over by Marc Albrighton.29:55
The offside flag is raised against Robin van Persie. Free kick taken by Shay Given.29:17
Centre by Theo Walcott, James Collins manages to make a clearance. Inswinging corner taken by Robin van Persie.27:48
Mikel Arteta produces a cross, Effort on goal by Johan Djourou from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.27:15
Mikel Arteta takes a shot. Save by Shay Given. Robin van Persie decides to take the corner short.25:49
The ball is crossed by Thomas Vermaelen, Robin van Persie produces a left-footed shot from inside the area that clears the bar.24:29
Alex Song provided the assist for the goal.24:29 Goal scored
Goal! - Theo Walcott - Arsenal 2 - 0 A Villa Theo Walcott finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa.23:43
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Yao Gervinho by Marc Albrighton. Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.23:06
Corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie, Stephen Warnock manages to make a clearance.21:38
A cross is delivered by Stephen Warnock.21:10
Corner taken by Marc Albrighton from the left by-line, clearance made by Johan Djourou.20:20
Emile Heskey challenges Johan Djourou unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.19:43
Inswinging corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, Shay Given makes a save.19:16
Stephen Ireland gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta. Thomas Vermaelen restarts play with the free kick.18:48
The ball is crossed by Chris Herd, save by Wojciech Szczesny.17:01
Robin van Persie delivers the ball, clearance by James Collins. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Mikel Arteta from the left by-line to the near post, Unfair challenge on James Collins by Thomas Vermaelen results in a free kick. Shay Given takes the free kick.15:01
Yao Gervinho provided the assist for the goal.15:01 Goal scored
Goal! - Kieran Gibbs - Arsenal 1 - 0 A Villa Kieran Gibbs scores a goal from inside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Arsenal 1-0 Aston Villa.14:16 Booking
Booking Stiliyan Petrov is booked.14:06
Stiliyan Petrov challenges Mikel Arteta unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Thomas Vermaelen.12:43
A cross is delivered by Robin van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen has a headed effort from close in and clears the bar.12:12
Tomas Rosicky crosses the ball, Stephen Warnock gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line.10:11
Foul by Emile Heskey on Johan Djourou, free kick awarded. Johan Djourou takes the indirect free kick.8:36
Theo Walcott takes a shot. Save made by Shay Given. Bacary Sagna produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.8:11
Tomas Rosicky takes a shot. Blocked by Carlos Cuellar.6:36
Effort on goal by Marc Albrighton from inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.5:59
Robin van Persie takes a shot. James Collins gets a block in. Corner taken by Mikel Arteta from the left by-line, Stephen Warnock manages to make a clearance.5:13
Stephen Ireland is ruled offside. Johan Djourou takes the indirect free kick.0:00
The match gets underway.
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