Football

Watkins scores twice as Villa rout Arsenal in huge upset

Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring Aston Villa’s second goal in their 3-0 victory against Arsenal at the Emirates. Photograph: Alastair Grant/Reuters

Olle Watkins scored a double as Arsenal put in a below-par showing and were outclassed by Aston Villa in a 3-0 home defeat on Sunday.

Despite getting a controversial VAR reprieve after John McGinn thought he had given Villa the lead after just 46 seconds, only to see it ruled out, Arsenal still fell behind in the 25th minute as Trezeguet arrived at the far post to finish off a fine move, with goal later being given as an own goal, Bukayo Saka getting the last touch.

The hosts did not improve after the break, with Liverpool slayer Watkins stepping up with two goals inside three minutes to stun Arsenal, to ensure Villa stormed to a deserved, comprehensive victory in style.

Arsenal were well below par, and suffered their second successive home league defeat to provide Mike Arteta with another setback as the Gunners drop to 11th, while Villa climb to sixth.

It could have been much, much worse in truth for Arsenal. McGinn had brilliantly converted Grealish’s cutback inside the first minute, only for Ross Barkley to be ruled offside by VAR, the Chelsea loanee adjudged to be in the eyeline of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno, from an offside position.

Villa, whose early season form has disappeared ahead of their trip to the capital, created an opening for Matt Targett, who squared for Trezeguet, only for Saka to make the last touch to break the deadlock in the Emirates rain.

Arsenal brought Dani Ceballos on at half time, but the Spaniard could do nothing as Villa continued to dominate, and deservedly got their second goal as Barkley superbly volleyed the ball across for Watkins to make it two in the 72nd minute.

Less than three minutes later, Villa saved their best for last, as former Arsenal man Emiliano Martinez rolled the ball out for Grealish, who galloped forward before setting up Watkins to make it eight for the season, putting the icing on a victory that means Villa have won each of their first three away league games in a season for the first time in their history.