2 standout Arsenal players from harsh Aston Villa defeat

  • Arsenal were beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa on Saturday evening
  • Villa extended home winning run in Premier League to 15 games
  • Only a couple of players impressed for the Gunners

Aston Villa v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Aston Villa v Arsenal FC - Premier League / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Arsenal fell to their second defeat of the season on Saturday evening as Aston Villa extended their Premier League winning run at Villa Park to 15 games.

The Gunners performed pretty well in a tough environment, but they were beaten by an early John McGinn goal following an excellent move from the hosts.

Unai Emery's side struggled to create much thereafter while Arsenal were wasteful at the other end. However, many supporters certainly feel aggrieved about the decision that didn't go the Gunners' way at the death which would've rescued a point.

2 standout Arsenal players from harsh Aston Villa defeat

Anyway, let's ignore the result for a second and have a look at the two best players in an Arsenal shirt.

1. Kai Havertz

Like against Luton and many of his recent performances, Kai Havertz was seriously good. His defensive work rate continues to stand out. He put in a few solid tackles and often popped up in good defensive areas, as he has all season.

What has markedly improved in recent games are his offensive contributions. He was responsible for winning the ball and then starting a counter-attack a few times in the first half, and the forwards should have finished off at least one of these chances.

He dribbled well, taking the ball confidently and moving it past opponents. He constantly offered forward runs and should have been found by teammates more often.

He found Odegaard in the middle when the Norwegian should have scored. He was very, very unfortunate to not get a goal or a penalty right at the death.

He also demonstrated some real character and determination, and I'm enjoying watching his performances more and more each game. His £65m price tag is becoming easier and easier to justify.

2. Gabriel Magalhães

For good reason, it is usually William Saliba who receives the lion's share of praise. However, big Gab has quietly been putting in extremely solid performances and against Aston Villa, he outperformed the Frenchman.

Since his exclusion from the Brazil World Cup squad last year, Gabriel has improved every single week and I feel like I'm seeing a far more composed, polished player.

A few times, the Brazilian was isolated but he always did well. He continuously protected the left-hand channel and got a couple of really good blocks in, particularly against McGinn late on in the game.

He also played some line-breaking forward passes. He clipped a ball over beautifully to Gabriel Martinelli and was always assured in possession. He won four out of five duels, didn't commit one foul and never shied away from the occasion.

At one point early last season, I began to doubt whether he had a long-term future in the team. Now, there are not any players that I would want to swap with him. The Rice, Saliba, Gabriel triangle is unbelievably solid and we will continue to concede very few chances and goals with them as the spine of the team.

It is just a shame that the team couldn't score. No point lingering on the result, and it wasn't a bad performance overall. Onwards and upwards, with Brighton and Liverpool as the next two games. That trip to Anfield may just be season-defining.