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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee