Home » EPL, FA Cup, Latest » Match Report: Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2

Robin van Persie netted two goals from the penalty spot as Arsenal staged a remarkable comeback as they came from two goals down to stun Aston Villa and book their place in the FA Cup fifth round.

The pressure looked to be firmly on Arsene Wenger once again after Villa raced into a two-goal lead at half-time following goals from Richard Dunne and Darren Bent.

But Arsenal looked a different side in the second half and three goals in the space of seven minutes made it a memorable day for the north London club.

Van Persie kept his nerve to score twice from the penalty spot while Theo Walcott also got among the scorers.

It was an extra special day for the Arsenal captain as he drew level with Dennis Bergkamp on 120 goals for the north London club.

Despite reports of unrest in the Arsenal camp, there are no doubts that the players are fully behind Wenger with this battling display and it showed that they are determined to win major silverware this season.

It was a promising start for the home side and they could have opened the scoring after just five minutes.

Van Persie laid the ball across to Thomas Vermaelen who struck a powerful 25-yard shot which produced a fine save from Shay Given diving away to his left hand side.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was so impressive in his first Premier League start against Manchester United again showed his potential on 22 minutes when he cut in from the left hand side and fired a shot which flew inches past the post.

But it was Aston Villa who broke the deadlock on 33 minutes and you have to question the poor marking in the Arsenal defence once again.

Robbie Keane’s cross picked out Dunne who towered above Koscielny and powered the ball home from close-range.

After beating Arsenal in the Carling Cup Final last season, McLeish must have wondered if it was going to be his day once again after Bent doubled Villa’s lead on the stroke of half-time.

Stephen Ireland laid the ball into the Villa striker who saw his first shot palmed away by Lukasz Fabianski.

The rebound fell to Bent who from the tightest of angles managed to strike the ball home and put the away side in pole position to reach the fifth round of the competition. Arsenal players were booed off the pitch at half-time and rightly so following another poor display at Emirates Stadium.

But whatever Wenger said to his players during the half-time interval seemed to work as Arsenal looked a completely different team in the second half and they staged a remarkable comeback.

The first goal came on 54 minutes when Alex Song’s ball picked out Aaron Ramsey who was brought down inside the box by Dunne. Referee Michael Jones had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

After receiving a booking in the first half, Dunne was lucky to stay on the pitch following his reckless challenge.

Van Persie kept all his composure to strike the ball into the corner of the net. You could sense a complete change in the atmosphere inside Emirates Stadium and how the Arsenal players responded.

The equaliser came just three minutes later when Walcott got his name on the score sheet. The Arsenal forward weaved his way into the penalty box and saw his first shot saved by Given.

You could sense it was not going to be Villa’s day after Alan Hutton went to clear and fired the ball straight into the chest of Walcott and the ball flew into the back of the net. It may have been lucky but Wenger and the Arsenal supporters could not care less.

No-one inside the stadium could have seen this coming but Arsenal stunned the Villa players and supporters when they added a third on 61 minutes.

Bent was adjudged to have brought down Laurent Koscielny and Jones pointed to the spot once again. Van Persie sent Given the wrong way once again and you could see the relief among all the Arsenal supporters.

It could have been a different story after Villa substitute Gary Gardner blew a golden chance to salvage an equaliser on 78 minutes. Gardner had a free header inside the box but he directed his close-range header straight at Fabianski.

Arsenal held on and now face a trip to Sunderland or Middlesbrough in the fifth round of the competition.

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