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Saka strikes as Arsenal take firm grip on EPL fourth place

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Arsenal tightened their grip on fourth place in the English Premier League (EPL) on Saturday, thanks to Bukayo Saka’s first-half strike in a 1-0 win against Aston Villa.

The Gunners’ five-match winning run was halted with defeat to Liverpool in midweek, but the visiting Gunners made a strong response at Villa Park.

A bright start was rewarded when Saka fired home from the edge of the penalty box with half an hour played, bringing up Arsenal’s 2,000th goal in the competition.

Ollie Watkins skimmed the post in the second half but Arsenal, without Aaron Ramsdale and Gabriel Martinelli through injury and illness respectively, saw out another win.

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez did well to stop Ezri Konsa putting into his own net, having earlier denied Thomas Partey, but the visitors soon found a breakthrough.

Aston Villa failed to clear their lines and Saka’s drive from 20 yards found a way past Martinez.

He saw the ball late and could not get enough contact on it to keep it out.

Emile Smith Rowe fired a tame shot at Martinez early in the second half and Arsenal were given a warning when Watkins’ shot deflected off Kieran Tierney and hit the post.

But Aston Villa, who had lost three and won three of their previous six heading into this contest, could not seriously trouble back-up goalkeeper Bernd Leno as Arsenal held firm.

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