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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 April 2006, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa
Thierry Henry celebrates scoring against Villa
Henry now has 21 league goals for Arsenal this season
Arsenal produced a scintillating display to thrash a poor Aston Villa and keep up their charge for a place in next season's Champions League.

Villa carved out two early chances but Arsenal took the lead on 19 minutes through Emmanuel Adebayor's header.

Thierry Henry's sublime lob made it two six minutes later before adding a third with a curling effort after half-time.

Robin Van Persie fired in a fourth from an acute angle while Abou Diaby struck late on to round off a fine win.

The only worries for Arsenal were the injuries to midfielder Cesc Fabregas and defender Emmanuel Eboue.

Fabregas, basking in the glow of his display in the Champions League quarter-final against Juventus, came off on 16 minutes with a foot injury and must now be a doubt for Wednesday's return leg in Italy.

Eboue was forced off in the second half with a groin problem.

The early Fabregas setback did not bother the home side however, and the Gunners had no trouble in securing their fourth straight league win.

Out-of-form Villa, who have now only picked up one point out of a possible 12, are still in relegation trouble and manager David O'Leary will be concerned that his side offered very little after Arsenal took the lead.

Villa started well enough and with Arsenal struggling to find their rhythm in the opening stages, the Midlanders carved out two opportunities for Kevin Phillips.

But three minutes after Fabregas departed, Arsenal took the lead.

A well-timed pass released Henry on the left and although his attempted lob was headed off the line by Aaron Hughes, the clearance fell to Adebayor - who just managed to squeeze the ball underneath the bar.

With Arsenal starting to exert their dominance, a second goal always looked likely and skipper Henry obliged on 25 minutes.

He latched onto Reyes' ball over the top of the defence, and after pulling the ball down expertly, he produced a sublime lob over the outcoming Thomas Sorensen for his 20th Premiership goal of the season.

Villa brought on Juan Pablo Angel for Phillips at half-time but the visitors had little chance to try to get back into the game as Henry put the result beyond doubt in the first minute of the second half.

Another long ball was not dealt with by the Villa defence, Adebayor back heeled it into the path of Henry who produced a wonderful curling shot into the top corner from 20 yards out.

It was all Arsenal in the second half and Sorensen was the busiest man on the field keeping out efforts from Adebayor and Kolo Toure.

Villa did have a superb chance to get back into the game midway through the half but with just the keeper to beat, Luke Moore fired straight at Jens Lehmann.

But Arsenal never really looked in any trouble and substitute Van Persie piled on the misery when he kept the ball away from a scrambling Sorensen to fire into the roof of the net.

The scoring was rounded off with just 10 minutes left when Diaby fired home after a trademark counter attack to heap more pressure on the beleaguered O'Leary.

  • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
    "Cesc's foot has blown up, that's not a good sign. It can be a vein that has exploded or it's coming from a bone."

    "Eboue did his groin because he played like Garrincha on the right side and didn't stop going forward. Both are rated 40-60 for Wednesday night.

    "Scoring the third goal so early in the second half allowed us to control the game, and it was a very positive performance."

  • Aston Villa manager David O'Leary
    "Arsenal were outstanding. Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up, we are looking at a team that could become the champions of Europe.

    "When they are like this they can take anyone apart. It was not a very nice experience but our young players will learn from it.

    "I'm disappointed, we should have scored a couple of goals early on, and that would have made it a different match."

    Arsenal: Lehmann, Eboue (Djourou 67), Toure, Senderos, Flamini, Pires, Fabregas (Diaby 15), Silva, Reyes, Adebayor, Henry (Van Persie 65).
    Subs Not Used: Almunia, Hleb.

    Goals: Adebayor 19, Henry 25, 46, Van Persie 71, Diaby 80.

    Aston Villa: Sorensen, De la Cruz (Cahill 52), Hughes, Ridgewell, Bouma, Hendrie, McCann, Davis, Barry (Agbonlahor 52), Phillips (Angel 45), Moore.
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Gardner.

    Booked: Bouma.

    Att: 38,183

    Ref: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

    Interview: David O'Leary


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