26 mins: The build-up to that goal was, frankly, fantabulous.

Barkley, Grealish and Targett play the ball around on the left, teasing any defender who attempts to close them down, playing it among themselves with a variety of backheels and flicks, before finally Barkley’s reverse pass finds Targett ghosting beyond the backline, and his low cross-shot is turned in at the far post!

22 mins: Aubameyang wins a free-kick on the left, and it takes an age for the teams to set themselves up for it. Eventually Willian rolls it to Tierney, lurking outside the penalty area, but the pass is a bit behind him and the shot is poor.

18 mins: Decent play from Arsenal to work space for Saka on the left, but his cross goes straight out of play.

16 mins: Villa may well have had their finest attacking moment within 55 seconds of kick-off. Arsenal have certainly had the better of the last quarter-hour or so, though with only that Willian chance to show for it.

13 mins: Chance! Partey’s pass sends Aubameyang down the left, and he picks out Willian with an excellent cross, but the Brazilian half-volleys wildly, high enough to clear half a dozen goals and a bit wide to boot.

10 mins: Close! McGinn plays a very gentle backpass and Partey gets to it a fraction before Martinez, but hits the keeper with his shot.

7 mins: It’ll be interesting to see how much stoppage time we get at the end of the half, given that four of the first five minutes was pure stoppage.

Aston Villa had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for this offside ⛔#ARSAVL pic.twitter.com/cvz6lpMMcL

5 mins: That will be hard for Villa to take, but I do think that Barkley was probably directly blocking Leno’s view of the ball. Not that he’d have had the slightest chance of getting to it, so clean and powerful was McGinn’s shot, but there you go.

5 mins: The referee is having to look at a small supplementary non-malfunctioning screen inside a suitcase.

5 mins: His screen doesn’t seem to be working, though.

4 mins: Martin Atkinson is going to look at this. Barkley was offside, it’s just a question of whether he was interfering with play.

3 mins: Ah, but was Barkley offside (yes) and in Leno’s line of vision (perhaps) as McGinn took his shot?

3 mins: Restart is being delayed while VAR checks something. There wasn’t a hint of offside about it, and nerry a sniff of handball.

Villa take the lead before Arsenal touch the ball! Targett’s pass finds Grealish on the left, and he passes back to McGinn, arriving at the edge of the area, who takes one touch before blasting past Leno and into the roof of the net!

1 min: Peeeeeep! Aston Villa, clad all in black, get the game started.

The players are out, and currently watching a video of someone playing the Last Post.

It is raining hard in north London (or at least in Arsenal’s part of north London - mine, just a few miles away, is completely dry) as the players gather in the tunnel.

Whoever Aston Villa’s ball-liner-upper is, he’s doing a great job.

That’s a total of one change, with Trezeguet replacing Traore for Aston Villa, and Arsenal sticking with the side that beat Manchester United last week.

Team sheets are in, and the big names today are these ones:

Arsenal: Leno, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Bellerin, Thomas, Elneny, Saka, Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang. Subs: Ceballos, Runarsson, Maitland-Niles, Pepe, Luiz, Nketiah, Xhaka.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Trezeguet, Barkley, Grealish, Watkins. Subs: Taylor, Steer, Hourihane, Nakamba, El Ghazi, Elmohamady, Davis.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.

The team news is in...

And we're unchanged from Old Trafford #ARSAVL

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Here is your Aston Villa team to face Arsenal tonight! #ARSAVL pic.twitter.com/dPnxS1adWH

In the build-up to this game, Mikel Arteta was asked whether his side were starting to show their full attacking potential, after putting four past Molde (though it’s best not to get carried away: they have scored only once in their last three league games and three times in their last five, and no top-flight team has had fewer than their 60 shots so far this season). “You could see last night that we were much more fluent in attack. We scored the goals and we had more opportunities,” he said. “It is something that we have been working on in the last two weeks.”

Two weeks? Two weeks? He was appointed 11 months ago, and he’s been working on attacking fluency in the last two weeks? Well, better late than never I suppose. And his timing is good, as having played both Manchester clubs plus Liverpool and Leicester in their last five league games their upcoming fixtures, with the obvious exception of the visit to Tottenham on 5 December, should prove a little less testing.

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