Belfast Telegraph

Battling Villa frustrate Arsenal

Aston Villa climbed out of the Barclays Premier League bottom three with a deserved share of the spoils from a goalless draw against Arsenal at Villa Park.

But a single point did little to bolster Arsenal's hopes of re-igniting their hopes of a top-four finish in a game of few clear-cut chances.

It needed a fine save from Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny to deny Villa substitute Brett Holman a late winner.

Home boss Paul Lambert was forced to watch the game from the stands after his one match ban but would have taken great heart from the way his side performed against the Gunners.

Central defender Ciaran Clark had a fine game in limiting the threat of the in-form Lukas Podolski and securing his side's third clean sheet of the season. Up front Christian Benteke posed problems for the Arsenal back four against the team he supported as a youngster.

Home keeper Brad Guzan made his first meaningful save after 29 minutes and the United States international reacted sharply to keep out a deflected shot from Ramsey.

Szczesny was fortunate to escape without even a yellow card when he caught the ball but then slid out of the box under pressure from Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Weimann had the ball in the net after Clark's shot from the resulting free-kick by Bannan dropped into his path but he had strayed offside.

Laurent Koscielny missed the best chance of the first half after 43 minutes. Olivier Giroud supplied the low cross and Koscielny found himself unmarked after a slip by Clark but he miscued his shot over the bar.

Arsenal continued to probe during the second half, but Szczesny came to the away side's rescue when he finger-tipped a fierce Holman effort onto the bar with 12 minutes remaining.


From Belfast Telegraph