Birmingham: Danny Welbeck scored his first Arsenal goal as Arsene Wenger's side put their disappointing recent form behind them with a trio of goals in just over three first-half minutes to win 3-0 away to Aston Villa on Saturday.
Danny Welbeck (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring at Villa Park. Pic/AFP
Victory saw Arsenal move to within three points of Premier League leaders Chelsea and meant they ended Villa's unbeaten start to the league season. The Gunners had not won in their last three matches and had only one league victory to their name this term ahead of this game.
But Welbeck, a Â£16 million ($26.6 million, 20.2 million euros) signing from Manchester United on transfer deadline day, helped his new side change all that with an impressive performance. He set up Mesut Ozil to score in the 32nd minute at Villa Park before the German returned the favour to tee up Welbeck barely two minutes later.
Villa, who had been hit by a sickness bug, conceded a third goal in the 36th minute as Aly Cissokho put into his own net from Kieran Gibbs's cross. The hosts were without Darren Bent and Nathan Baker due to illness before Ashley Westwood pulled out following the warm-up, with Carlos Sanchez drafted in.
Paul Lambert's side had shocked Liverpool last week with a 1-0 win at Anfield and and they nearly went ahead just three minutes into this match. A poor Wojciech Szczesny kick went straight to Fabian Delph who exchanged passes with Andreas Weimann before seeing his shot from outside the area saved by the goalkeeper.
At the other end, Welbeck signalled to the Villa defence -- which included Ciaran Clark and Philippe Senderos in the absence of injured captain Ron Vlaar and Baker -- his intentions with a shot that went just over the bar.
But Villa could have taken the lead when Senderos's header sailed over the bar after a threatening Tom Cleverley corner. - Lerner looks on as Villa lose - Meanwhile, Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey fired another warning shot with a drilled effort just wide from a Santi Cazorla set-piece.
Szczesny made a crucial intervention as he dived to keep out a Clark header after Cleverley's free-kick had swung its way to Villa's centre back.
It was a major moment in the match and Villa manager Lambert, who this week signed a new four-year contract, will have been frustrated with what was to follow especially with US-based owner Randy Lerner -- who has put the Birmingham club up for sale -- watching his first Villa game in the flesh in two years.
Lambert's side had conceded just one goal in the league going into this game but then let in three in three minutes and 12 seconds. First Welbeck's fine run and pass led to Ozil coolly beating Brad Guzan with an intelligent finish for his first goal of the campaign.
Then World Cup-winner Ozil's cross from the left gave Welbeck the chance to finish in composed fashion from close range. And barely had the game kicked-off again and Arsenal were 3-0 ahead, when Cissokho put into his own net from Gibbs's cross from the left, with Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain waiting to fire home behind the Villa left-back.
Arsenal could have added further goals even before the break with Ozil firing just wide of the post from Ramsey's cross, while the Welshman then off-target himself following another positive Welbeck run.
After the break, Welbeck was denied a second goal of the as his shot from Gibbs's pass was too close to Guzan. Villa, despite bringing on highly-regarded youngster Jack Grealish for Andreas Weimann at the break, never looked like finding a way back into the game with the Arsenal defence enjoying a comfortable 45 minutes.