2 Feb 2015

Arsenal win big to close in on top four

11:57 am on 2 February 2015

Arsenal climbed above rivals Tottenham Hotspur into fifth in the Premier League and inflicted more misery on a goal-shy Aston Villa with an emphatic 5-0 victory that fuelled their top-four hopes.

Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates scoring a goal.

Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates scoring a goal. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Goals from Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin helped Arsenal move level on points with fourth-placed Southampton and a step closer to a Champions League qualification spot.

The day got better for Arsene Wenger's side when a stunning Jonjo Shelvey strike gave Swansea City a surprise 1-0 away win at Southampton, who had defender Ryan Bertrand sent off late on.

France forward Giroud opened the scoring at the Emirates Stadium in the eighth minute after he was sent clear by an Ozil flick before the German added a second with a low finish.

Walcott added a third after a razor-sharp counter attack, Cazorla scored a fourth from the penalty spot after substitute Chuba Akpom was felled by Brad Guzan and Bellerin completed the rout with a well-placed fifth.

"I think the first half was quite cautious, Aston Villa came at us with a game plan and they pressurised" says Walcott.

"Going into the break we thought 1-0 was just deserved but the second half I couldn't think of a more one-sided game. It was a great victory and it's always important to get a lot of goals."

Arsenal have 42 points from 23 games, two clear of Spurs, and trail third-placed Manchester United by a point.

Villa, 16th and without a win since early December, have not scored a Premier League goal since December 20 - a run of six games - and are three points above the relegation zone.

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