Yorke's turning point for Villa

Arsenal 2 Wright 13, Merson 73 Aston Villa 2 Milosevic 68, Yorke 74 Attendance: 38,130

Aston Villa got their Dwight Christmas a few days late; for Arsenal, denied a return to the top of the Premiership by an equalising goal from Yorke of that first name, it has been a decidedly cool Yule.

It was an unexpected turn-about after Villa's tentative, unambitious performance in the first half, which Arsenal dominated but which had yielded only Ian Wright's 22nd goal of the season. After the interval crab-like Villa found their claws. Savo Milosevic equalised and within a minute of Paul Merson restoring Arsenal's lead, Yorke struck to force the draw.

It was in keeping with the recent history of the two clubs, but the result barely enhanced either team's Premiership title pretensions. After their third draw in four matches, the other yielding a defeat, Arsenal's challenge is at a crossroads. Villa, meanwhile, need to match their recent five- game winning sequence.

The consolation for them was that, in the end at least, they responded vigorously to the defeat by Chelsea on Boxing Day which ended that run and, for the first time this season, gleaned reward after trailing.

That they did so, however, was largely due to Arsenal's profligacy after Wright's splendid early goal. Patrick Vieira, returning after suspension to good early effect, won the ball in midfield and slipped it forward to Dennis Bergkamp, also a livewire at this point. The Dutchman timed his pass perfectly through to Wright, who ran on to beat Mark Bosnich with a fierce, low right-footed cross shot.

It was a reward for crisp, ground-based direct football in contrast to that being offered by Villa. They passed the ball neatly enough but too often squarely or backwards, with scarcely any player willing to risk the decisive pass. They were fortunate to reach the break only a goal adrift, with Riccardo Scimeca having to clear off the line after Wright had rounded Bosnich and Bould heading just over the bar after the goalkeeper had kept out Bergkamp's shot.

The Villa manager Brian Little admitted: "If we had been three or four down it wouldn't have been out of context with the game. We needed half- time to talk through things. We were too static, too predictable. We wanted to raise the tempo and pass with a purpose."

Suddenly Yorke was buzzing as a more determined Villa established a grip in midfield. Ian Taylor almost clipped home over John Lukic from Yorke's low cross - their first chance, after 50 minutes - but Bould cleared as the ball rolled goalwards. They ran the risk of being caught on the break, as Wright showed when he was just wide from Merson's long ball, but also finally looked like scoring.

A goal duly came while Arsenal were making an ill-timed substitution. As they prepared to defend a throw-in, on came Steve Morrow for Remi Garde and they still appeared disorganised as Fernando Nelson's cross came in. Mark Draper headed it back across goal and at the far post Milosevic, declared fit to play after a virus only two hours before kick-off, was free to steer home.

Stung, Arsenal responded with another excellent goal, Merson accepting Morrow's pass infield, dancing past Steve Staunton and driving home from 20 yards. It lasted only a minute, however, Milosevic sending Yorke clear to clip over Lukic.

Bergkamp had a late chance in a typically rousing Highbury finale, sidefooting just wide after a long run, but one sensed that Arsenal, their ageing legs failing them in this hectic phase of the season, had missed the moment.

We will find out more about both teams this new year week, with Wright beginning a three-match suspension - "I don't love the FA now," said the T-shirt he revealed after scoring yesterday - and Villa going to Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Robyn Lawley
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st line call logger/ User access administrator

£9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star