John McGinn’s early goal led surging Aston Villa to a club-record 15th consecutive home Premier League victory on Saturday, a breathless 1-0 win over Arsenal that prevented Mikel Arteta’s Gunners from reclaiming top spot in the table.
Unai Emery’s Villa, who shocked champions Manchester City in a dominant 1-0 win on Wednesday as part of what McGinn called a “monumental week,” are now third on 35 points after 16 games in a jam-packed title race. Arsenal, who were overtaken by Liverpool earlier on Saturday, are second with 36.
“I’m banning the T-word,” a laughing McGinn told Sky Sports, when asked if Villa were title contenders. “It’s game week 16, so there’s a long, long way to go, and we respect everyone in front of us who have been in this position for years. We’re newbies. Can we keep it up? Hopefully.”
Emery also cautioned that the season was young.
“I will speak when we are in (week) 30, 32, and if we are in the same position then as we are now, I can speak about (the title race),” he said.
Villa Park was rocking in the seventh minute after Leon Bailey sprinted down the right wing before cutting back the ball and picking out McGinn. Villa’s captain took one touch, turned sharply and fired past keeper David Raya.
Arsenal thought they had equalised in added time before VAR determined Kai Havertz had handled the ball while firing it past keeper Emi Martinez from a goalmouth scramble.
Delighted fans sang “Hi Ho Aston Villa” at the final whistle.
Emery said he had never before achieved 15 straight home wins in his managerial career.
“I think I will not again achieve (it) in the future; it’s amazing, it’s brilliant,” said the former Arsenal manager.
McGinn said Villa Park was a “a great place to play football when the fans are behind you like that.
“It’s very, very difficult for away teams to come and play. I remember the last team to beat us here was Arsenal and that game certainly stung us, so today was a little bit of revenge.
“Long may it continue and if we keep our home form up, then hopefully we can achieve something this season.”
Arsenal had numerous chances to level, including several from Martin Odegaard. The Norwegian fired a low shot inches from the post, then another right at Martinez in the first half. Odegaard’s frustration continued after the interval, when he poked a shot from close range just wide of the post.
Bukayo Saka beat Martinez to fire into the empty net in the 61st minute but he was flagged for offside.
“I thought we were the better team and didn’t deserve to lose the game but this is football,” Arteta said. “We have to put the ball in the net today, and that’s the only thing that we missed today because we generated some big, big chances, but we still lost the game.”
Arteta, whose north London team arrived on the heels of four successive wins, was relegated to the directors’ box for the game while he served a one-match ban after picking up his third yellow card of the season.
(This story has been corrected to clarify that Arteta was banned for his third yellow card, not red card, in paragraph 17)