If nothing else, Arsenal will be happy to see the back of Aston Villa. This was their third defeat to Dean Smith’s side in a little over six months and, while it was by some way their best performance in that collection, they found no way through and left the West Midlands empty-handed for the second time this week.

A second-minute strike by Ollie Watkins, his 10th top-flight goal of the season and third against today’s opponents, was enough to answer questions about the hosts’ form and push them firmly back into the conversation about European spots. Such talk still seems a touch premature for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal, whose revival has faltered a little even if there are longer-term reasons for optimism.

Related: Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal: Premier League – live!

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