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The BBC's Alan Green
"Villa seemed to play as if it was an away fixture"
 real 28k

Sunday, 5 March, 2000, 17:45 GMT
Dixon saves Gunners' day
Walker
Young Walker scores his second goal for Villa


Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal

Lee Dixon scored his second goal in as many games to save the day for the misfiring Gunners at Villa Park.

Young Villa striker Richard Walker scored the home side's goal with 28 minutes left after a dull first half.

But Dixon, who scored the opener in Wedneday's 5-1 thrashing of Deportivo La Coruna, netted for the London side with six minutes remaining.

Key moments
First half: Joachim wasteful when faced with Seaman
Bergkamp and Henry closest for Arsenal
Gunners reshuffle at half-time
62 mins: Walker heads Villa in front
84: Dixon saves the day
Paul Merson looked the most creative player on the pitch against his former club.

His guile was allied with hard work from Ian Taylor and Steve Stone who controlled much of their battle against Arsenal's much-admired midfield unit.

The first half saw Villa striker Julian Joachim squander two one-on-one opportunities with Arsenal keeper David Seaman.

Steve Stone dispossessed Gilles Grimandi but Joachim was caught in two minds and Seaman saved comfortably at his feet.

Then Walker flicked on a long clearance and the pacey Villa forward got in behind Dixon only shoot weakly at the Arsenal keeper.


Joachim is denied by brave Seaman
Alan Wright was also wasteful with a hurried shot in the first two minutes while Walker, Ugo Ehiogu and Ian Taylor all headed wide.

Arsenal started with three men in attack - Dennis Bergkamp, Kanu and Therry Henry but they did not fire against a Villa side happy to soak up pressure and break with pace.

Bergkamp had a dipping 20-yard shot comfortably saved by Peter Enckelman, who also denied Henry from a tight angle.

But there was none of the flowing attacking play which had seen off the Gunners' Spanish visitors on Thursday.

Marc Overmars was introduced at half-time to try to recapture this form but Villa were also more determined to attack in the second half.

Seaman denied Joachim by coming out bravely at the striker's legs but there was nothing the England keeper could do about Walker's header.

Overmars fouled Mark Delaney on the Villa right and Merson's free kick had pace and was well-directed into the near post.

Martin Keown was flat-footed and Walker nipped in to plant his header into the net.

Emmanuel Petit was booked after clashes with Stone and Merson before being substituted in controversial circumstances.

Kanu and Barry
Arsenal's Kanu was well shackled by Barry
The French midfielder was happy enough to come off having appeared to ask to be taken off before he was.

But he appeared to make a one-fingered gesture to Villa fans sitting behind the Arsenal dug-out as he took his seat.

Veteran Nigel Winterburn slotted into midfield and Arsenal improved dramatically with the left-back's old partner-in-crime Dixon scoring an opportunistic goal.

The former England defender struck after a mistake from international hopeful Gareth Barry six minutes from time.

Dixon latched onto a hopeful ball into the Villa area and neatly turned Barry, who slipped over, before the Arsenal right-back slotted the ball under Enckelman.

Teams:

Aston Villa:
Enckelman, Ehiogu, Southgate, Barry, Delaney, Taylor, Stone, Merson, Wright, Joachim, Walker. Subs: Watson, Hendrie, Bartelt, Samuel, Curtolo.

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Keown, Grimandi, Silvinho, Parlour, Vieira, Petit, Henry, Kanu, Bergkamp. Subs: Winterburn, Ljungberg, Overmars, Luzhny, Manninger.

Referee: G Poll (Tring)

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