English Premier League club Arsenal has managed to make it to the fifth round of the FA Cup, following a hard-fought 3-2 win over Aston Villa.
After a series of three consecutive defeats in the Premier League this season, Arsenal got off to a good start with some movement, vision and shots on target, from their Dutch skipper Robin van Persie and English winger Theo Walcott.
The Villans, who were forced on the defensive at the start, slowly settled into the game and made good progress. Nevertheless, it was a surprise when they took the lead. Richard Dunne's header, from a Robbie Keane cross, found the net and after 33 minutes, it was Arsenal 0 - Villa 1.
The Gunners pressed on, only to find the visitors defending calmly. It got worse for Arsene Wenger and his men, though, when Darren Bent struck around half-time, a rebound from a tight angle, to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
Staring at the possibility of an early exit from the FA Cup, the side that went the 2003-04 Premier League seasons unbeaten, returned after half-time with an unchanged side and, thanks to a reckless challenge by Dunne on Aaron Ramsey on 54 minutes, were back in the match... van Persie slotting the resulting penalty to bring the 60,000-plus crowd to its feet.
The equalizer came soon after (56th minute), which was scored by Walcott. His shot ricocheted off Villa's midfielder Stephen Ireland, who trying to clear his lines.
The turnaround was completed by that man, van Persie, who scored his second penalty of the evening, following a foul by Bent on Laurent Koscielny in the 61st minute.
The Gunners managed to defend the lead for the rest of the match, despite several attempts by Aston Villa to score their third off the game.
"I was very impressed because I felt that when you come out of a bad period like we are, and you are 2-0 down, you can feel sorry for yourself or you can show you have the mental qualities to play for this club," Wenger, who looked pleased with his side's performance, later told Arsenal.com in an interview, "I was very proud that the team came out and showed they are not ready to lie down."
Meanwhile, the Gunners will play either fellow Premier League club Sunderland or Championship side Middlesbrough in the next round.