Arsenal win 2-1 at Aston Villa to regain control of the English Premier League
First-half goals from Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere prove too much for Villa
Inter stumble in Italy again, drawing 1-1 at home to Verona
Arsenal ensured that top spot in the Premier League changed hands for the third time in as many days when winning 2-1 at Aston Villa on Monday.
Leaders on Saturday morning, the Gunners first saw Chelsea move into pole position as Jose Mourinho’s side won 2-0 at Hull.
By Sunday afternoon, the team sitting on top of an enthralling Premier League was Manchester City after Manuel Pellegrini’s side survived a scare at Newcastle to also win 2-0.
Chelsea have 46 points, Manchester City boast 47 but Arsenal, who sat third prior to kick-off, are now back in front with 48 - thanks to a magical minute that took the tie away from the hosts.
Just after the half hour, Jack Wilshere gave Arsenal the lead and within a minute Oliver Giroud had doubled that advantage.
“It’s a massive three points – especially because we dropped a bit in the second half,” Wilshere told Sky Sports television.
“In the past we used to feel the nerves when we were up against it. But this season we haven’t.”
Villa produced little until Christian Benteke’s first goal since September provided a rousing finish, with the visitors holding on for a crucial victory.
The win avenged Arsenal’s defeat at home to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, which prompted many Gunners fans to call for the head of coach Arsene Wenger.
The Frenchman must have felt a degree of satisfaction at the health of his team come the return fixture, with Arsenal having topped the table for much of the season.
Without a trophy since 2005, Arsenal are bidding to win their first Premier League title in ten years.
In Italy, struggling Inter Milan failed to use home advantage to beat Verona, the team lying immediately below them in the table, and the 1-1 draw ended with the hosts being booed off by their own fans.
Victory at the San Siro would have closed the gap on fourth-placed Fiorentina to three points, but the draw still leaves Walter Mazzarri’s side five points adrift.
Inter have won just one of their last seven league games, with the solitary success coming in the derby against Milan just prior to Christmas.
Earlier on Monday, Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri was sacked following the seven-time European champions’ dismal start to the season, trailing leaders Juventus by 30 points.