Arsene Wenger said that Arsenal had enjoyed a “perfect week” after they won 2-0 at Aston Villa on Sunday to supplant Manchester City at the Premier League summit.
Arsenal reached the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday by winning 3-0 at Olympiakos, Olivier Giroud scoring all three goals, and the Frenchman set the London side on their way at Villa Park with an early penalty.
Aaron Ramsey doubled Arsenal’s lead before half-time, starting and finishing a swift counter-attack, as Wenger’s men leapfrogged both City and former leaders Leicester City, who host champions Chelsea on Monday.
“It was a perfect week for us,” Wenger told the BBC. “We spent a lot of energy away in the Champions League on Wednesday, but found the resources to win again here today (Sunday), in another away match.
“In the first half we were in control, but in the second half the legs had gone a bit. We were mature, and maybe a bit lucky on one or two occasions, but overall it is great to come here and to win away again.
“This season is so unpredictable that you just focus on yourself and try to play well in the next game. You know if you are consistent then you have a chance. This is an opportunity for us to find that consistency.”
Giroud sent Brad Guzan the wrong way from the penalty spot in the eighth minute after Alan Hutton was penalised for holding back Theo Walcott, which gave him his 50th Arsenal league goal.
Ramsey made it 2-0 seven minutes before half-time, tackling Idrissa Gueye in midfield and sparking a move that saw the ball pass from Walcott to Mesut Ozil, who squared the ball for the Welshman to roll home.
In keeping Villa at bay, Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech equalled former England international David James’s Premier League record of 169 clean sheets.
Villa manager Remi Garde had been hoping to get one over his former mentor Wenger, who signed him as a player at Arsenal, but his team remain eight points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.
Arsenal went a point clear of City and Leicester and three points above fourth-place Manchester United, who lost 2-1 at Bournemouth on Saturday.
United will concede fourth place, and with it a Champions League berth, to Tottenham Hotspur if Mauricio Pochettino’s side overcome Newcastle United at White Hart Lane later on Sunday.
The day’s other game sees Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, beaten 2-0 at Newcastle last weekend, host West Bromwich Albion. – Agence France-Presse