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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 February, 2005, 19:09 GMT
Aston Villa 1-3 Arsenal
Freddie Ljungberg dinks in a shot over keeper Thomas Sorensen to give Arsenal the lead at Villa Park
Arsenal emphatically bounced back from their defeat by arch-rivals Manchester United by brushing aside Aston Villa.

Villa were left stunned by a sparkling display by the Gunners who went ahead when Freddie Ljungberg lifted a shot past despairing keeper Thomas Sorensen.

Thierry Henry's angled shot ended his goal drought and a 20-yard strike from Ashley Cole put the visitors three up.

Juan Pablo Angel pulled a goal back for Villa but it proved a consolation effort as Arsenal eased off.

Jens Lehmann was back in the Arsenal goal for his first league game since the loss at Liverpool on 28 November, 2004.

But Villa keeper Sorensen was the busier of the two after Arsenal burst out of the blocks as they attempted to banish the nightmare of Tuesday's defeat to United.

Sorensen was at full stretch to keep out Dennis Bergkamp's curling shot early on and quickly scrambled to his right to smother as Henry tried to poke in the rebound.

Thierry Henry (left), Freddie Ljungberg and Jose Antonio Reyes celebrate during Arsenal's win at Aston Villa
Arsenal played like a team with a point to prove

Patrick Vieira was guilty of a bad miss when he put an effort high and wide from 12 yards before Ljungberg dinked a shot past the on-rushing Sorensen to put the visitors ahead.

Henry had not scored in seven previous outings for the Gunners but he showed no lack of confidence when he latched onto Vieira's slide rule pass and finished with aplomb.

Villa were struggling to contain an Arsenal side playing some sparkling football and were soon three down.

A sweeping move began with Henry spreading the ball crossfield to the left flank where Bergkamp flicked a first-time pass into the run of Cole.

And Cole half-volleyed an angled strike into Sorensen's net before the match had even reached the half-hour mark.

The chances were flowing for Arsenal with Vieira and Henry each spurning openings to add to their team's lead.

The onslaught looked like continuing after the break and only Jose Antonio Reyes delaying a cross prevented Ljungberg from having an clear opportunity to add to his opener.

But Villa slowly worked their way back into game and tested a central defensive partnership of Pascal Cygan and youngster Philippe Senderos with Arsenal first-choice duo Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure out.

Angel scored from six yards and Steven Davis had a shot deflected onto the post by Cygan for the home side whose fightback proved too little too late.

  • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
    "The victory was very important. You know when you are 3-0 up a team will come for you and you have to defend well and we did that.

    "It was a big disapointment losing to Manchester United because we want to win our home games but that is part of the game and I have great belief in the players which they have shown today.

    "I have a strong belief in the strength of the squad and I am convinced I am right.

    "The title is certainly too far but we will try to do as well as we can."

  • Aston Villa boss David O'Leary
    "They were very good. they scored some wonderful goals but we made it very easy for them.

    "Our defending was very diasppointing. In the first half we gave them too much respect and that was more like us in the second half.

    "It was nice to come back and get that goal and salvage some sort of pride. That's what we have to take on."

    Aston Villa: Sorensen, De la Cruz, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Samuel (Hitzlsperger 62), Solano, Djemba-Djemba (Berson 66), Davis, Barry, Angel, Luke Moore.
    Subs Not Used: Laursen, Postma, Cole.

    Booked: Samuel, Djemba-Djemba.

    Goals: Angel 74.

    Arsenal: Lehmann, Lauren, Cygan, Senderos, Cole, Ljungberg, Vieira, Edu (Flamini 74), Reyes (Fabregas 82), Bergkamp (Pires 74), Henry.
    Subs Not Used: Almunia, Hoyte.

    Goals: Ljungberg 10, Henry 14, Cole 28.

    Att: 42,593

    Ref: S Bennett (Kent).

    Interview: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

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