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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 December 2007, 19:12 GMT
Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal
By John Sinnott

Mathieu Flamini
Flamini scored his second Premier League goal of the season
Premier League leaders Arsenal went five points clear at the top after an impressive away win over Aston Villa.

Arsenal had to come from behind after Craig Gardner side-footed past Manuel Almunia to give Villa an early lead.

But by the interval Arsenal were ahead after keeper Scott Carson was beaten by Mathieu Flamini's ferocious shot and Emmanuel Adebayor's thumping header.

John Carew came desperately close to equalising for Villa when his angled header came back off the crossbar.

Villa's approach might have been more utilitarian than that of Arsenal, but their forceful style disturbed the league leaders in a keenly competitive second half.

It was very different from an opening half that saw Arsenal produce some quite wonderful periods of play.

Without their chief conductor - Cesc Fabregas was absent through injury - Arsenal turned to Alexander Hleb to pull the strings.

The Belarus midfielder proved more than an adequate stand-in, so much so that at times in the first half Arsenal were reminiscent of Holland circa 1974.

That Holland side had defenders that were as comfortable on the ball as their attackers and Arsenal, in Emmanuel Eboue and Gael Clichy, have defenders that provide enormous attacking momentum.

Arsenal had suffered their first defeat of the season in midweek to Sevilla in a Champions League game, but in the early stages of the game there was no sign of any European hangover.

606: DEBATE

Carson was twice called into action as he pushed Eboue's shot round the post and then saved with his feet to deny Hleb.

Against the run of play Villa took the lead when Gardner stroked a volley past Almunia after Carew's cross deflected