BIRMINGHAM (AP): With Arsenal heading toward another disappointing result, new signing Jorginho came up big to keep the Gunners’ title aspirations on track.
Jorginho’s shot from outside the area in second-half stoppage time bounced against the crossbar and off Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez’s head before going into the net to put Arsenal ahead for good in a come-from-behind 4-2 win Saturday that halted a three-game winless streak in the Premier League.
Arsenal had to come from behind twice before the lucky bounce from Jorginho’s shot made it 3-2 in the third minute of stoppage time. Gabriel Martinelli then tapped a fourth into an empty net on a quick counter after Martinez — the former Arsenal goalkeeper — had come up the field as the hosts searched for an equalizer in an action-filled game at Villa Park.
Martinelli had also helped set up Arsenal’s third goal by squaring the ball back to Jorginho, who unleashed a fierce strike.
“We needed a magic moment and Jorginho produced it,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said.
The win puts Arsenal three points above Manchester City atop the table ahead of the defending champion’s game against Nottingham Forest later Saturday. It also halted an alarming slump for Arteta’s team, which had looked in danger of suffering a fourth loss in five games in all competitions. That recent run included a 3-1 loss to City at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday that handed the momentum in the title race to Pep Guardiola’s team.
“Of course, very important after the last results we had,” said Jorginho, who joined Arsenal from Chelsea before the transfer deadline. “And the start wasn’t easy. We were not producing our game. And then we came into halftime, we had a talk, a chat, then we went back to doing the basics that we need to do, and we could change the game.”
With actor and avid Villa fan Tom Hanks in attendance, the hosts went ahead in the the fifth minute through Ollie Watkins, after Oleksandr Zinchenko had given the ball away cheaply. Bukayo Saka equalized with a perfectly struck volley in the 16th, but Villa reclaimed the lead in the 31st through Philippe Coutinho.
Zinchenko then scored his first Arsenal goal with a shot from just outside the area in the 61st to level for a second time, and the crucial bounces then all went the visitors’ way as Villa’s Leon Bailey hit the crossbar with a late chance before Jorginho — the former Chelsea midfielder who joined Arsenal in January — was more fortunate at the other end.
“We (learned) an unbelievable lesson for all of us, that (is) we just need to believe until the very end that we can achieve everything,” said Zinchenko, who won four Premier League titles with Man City before joining Arsenal last summer. “The reaction from all of us in the second half is perfect.”
For Arteta, it was also a first win over Unai Emery, the former Arsenal manager who knocked the Gunners out of the Europa League semifinals two years ago when he was coaching Villarreal.