Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal: Player ratings as Ollie Watkins strike downs Gunners

Aston Villa secured a big win in the race for European football with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal at Villa Park on Saturday.

Ollie Watkins' goal inside two minutes proved decisive, with Bertrand Traore capitalising on Cedric Soares' loose pass and feeding the Villa forward, whose first time effort found the net via a slight deflection off Rob Holding.

Arsenal came at Villa in the second half, but it was Mat Ryan who was the busier of the two keepers, producing a number of fine saves to deny Watkins and Jack Grealish.

Let's get into some player ratings.

Aston Villa player ratings

1. Goalkeepers & Defenders

Mings started in the heart of the Villa backline | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Emiliano Martinez (GK) - 6/10 - Made an acrobatic save to keep out a top corner-bound Xhaka free kick in the first half, and a decent stop to deny Pepe in the second.

Matty Cash (RB) - 7/10 - Produced a big defensive shift as Arsenal bombarded the right flank - but Cash stood firm and frustrated the Gunners.

Tyrone Mings (CB) - 8/10 - Made two vital blocks to prevent Lacazette sliding Saka in in the first half and to stop Smith Rowe having a goal-bound effort in the second. A display that oozed authority, Mings was pure Jackie Weaver.

Ezri Konsa (CB) - 7/10 - Villa were superb at the back, Konsa popping up with a couple of important interceptions.

Matt Targett (LB) - 8/10 - The whole Villa backline were exceptional and Targett epitomised this. Dogged, determined and resilient.

2. Midfielders

Nakamba started in Villa's midfield three | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

John McGinn (CM) - 7/10 - Saw a stinging second half effort well saved by Ryan. Mopped up well at the back and had to put in a tireless defensive shift in the second half.

Marvelous Nakamba (CM) - 6/10 - Overrun in midfield a bit in the second half but worked his socks off as Villa got men behind the ball and kept their defensive shape well.

Ross Barkley (CAM) - 6/10 - Saw more of the ball early in the second period and looked dangerous when driving at the Gunners backline. Drifted in and out of the game.

3. Forwards

Watkins opened the scoring for Villa | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Bertrand Traore (RW) - 7/10 - Instrumental in Villa's opener, latching onto Cedric's sloppy pass, driving forward and picking out Watkins. Should have got on the scoresheet himself after jinking through on goal, but his dinked effort was saved.

Ollie Watkins (ST) - 7/10 - Opened the scoring inside two minutes, tucking Traore's ball into the net via a nick off Holding. Forced Ryan into a good save in the second half with a well struck effort from range and turned in a typical, tireless shift.

Jack Grealish (LW) - 6/10 - Turned in a more defensive, disciplined performance as he tracked back diligently and doubled up on Saka with Targett - slightly to the detriment of his attacking influence in the first half. Got forward more in the second.

4. Substitutes

Trezeguet - 6/10

Jacob Ramsey - 6/10

Arsenal player ratings

5. Goalkeeper & Defenders

Gabriel started at centre back for Arsenal | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Mat Ryan (GK) - 7/10 - Made a number of fine saves to keep out Traore in the first half, and Watkins and Grealish in the second.

Hector Bellerin (RB) - 6/10 - Drew a save from Martinez with a curling left footed effort in the second half. Had a good battle with Grealish and didn't venture forward as frequently as usual as he was keeping tabs on the Villa skipper.

Rob Holding (CB) - 5/10 - Didn't get tight enough to Watkins as Villa took the lead, the forward's effort deflecting in off Holding.

Gabriel (CB) - 6/10 - A slight miscommunication with Cedric in the build up to Villa's opener - but Gabriel was largely sold short by his teammate's poor pass.

Cedric Soares (LB) - 5/10 - Started slowly with his under hit pass to Gabriel picked up by Traore in the build up to Villa's opener. Replaced just after the hour mark.

6. Midfielders

Xhaka started in the Arsenal midfield | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Granit Xhaka (CM) - 7/10 - Almost levelled the scores with a terrifically hit first half free kick and played a number of clever, probing passes to get Arsenal in behind.

Thomas Partey (CM) - 6/10 - Efficient in possession and was more effective in the second half before he was forced off with injury 17 minutes from time.

Emile Smith Rowe (CAM) - 6/10 - Almost glided through on goal in the second half but was kept out by Mings. Otherwise drifted in and out of the game - and Arsenal were all the less effective for his lack of impact.

7. Forwards

Saka was fouled here, there and everywhere | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Bukayo Saka (RW) - 6/10 - Seemed to get fouled every time he touched the ball as Villa ganged up on the Arsenal wide man. Moved to left back following the introduction of Odegaard.

Alexander Lacazette (ST) - 5/10 - A pretty quiet afternoon, hardly had a sniff of goal and was replaced just before the hour mark.

Nicolas Pepe (LW) - 5/10 - Flashed a good chance wide in the first half, and passed another good chance narrowly past the post in the second.

8. Substitutes

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - 5/10

Martin Odegaard 6/10

Willian - 5/10

Source : 90min