Claret and Blue hold firm to draw with Wenger's men

Arsene Wenger had been looking for his 300th Premier League win with Arsenal but the in-form Londoners had to be content with a hard-fought goalless draw against a battling Aston Villa side.

Arsenal, the leading scorers in the top-flight with 59 goals, could not break down a resolute Aston Villa defence in which Richard Dunne and James Collins emerged as the star performers.

As a result Arsenal, unbeaten at Villa Park for more than 11 years, were unable to chalk up the double after their 3-0 success over Martin O'Neill's side at the Emirates last month.

It was, however, Villa's fourth game without a win and in this spell they have only collected two points. Significantly they have failed to score in any of these four matches.

They attempted to rectify this situation with some positive attacking play but the elusive goal continued to elude them despite creating several promising attacks.

As early as the fourth minute, Gabby Agbonlahor latched on a pass from Emile Heskey and forced Manuel Almunia to make a smart diving save to his left.

The response from Arsenal was a more powerful effort from Denilson which Brad Friedel saved by pushing the effort away for a corner.

Villa's attacking play was the more impressive in the early stages and Thomas Vermaelen was booked when he halted a Heskey run.

It was top-class play from both teams. Arsenal's supremely confident defence and attack turned in a quality display which was matched by some staunch Villa defending in which Dunne was again the cornerstone.

Escape

Stiliyan Petrov turned in a masterly midfield display. His industry set up several smart attacks but Arsenal's defence, in which William Gallas was rock steady, repelled the home side.

The nippy Arsenal attack was always potentially dangerous with their speed and application.

The best move of the first half occurred when Ashley Young was sent clear. His high cross found Stewart Downing rushing in but he could only balloon the ball over the bar.

Villa had a massive escape a minute before the break when Cesc Fabregas jinked his way through the opposition defence to finish with a low shot which hit the post.

There was another anxious moment for Villa immediately after the restart when a Gael Clichy cross had the home defence at panic stations.

The indifferent finishing ability of Downing was again highlighted when the former Middlesbrough played headed wide from close range following a cross by Ashley Young.

Some of the tackling became a little heated with Heskey being booked despite strong protests for a foul on the ever dangerous Fabregas.

The woodwork again came to Villa's rescue in the 61st minute. Andrey Arshavin waltzed through the Villa defence to see his effort cannon away to Tomas Rosicky, who hammed his shot against the underside of the crossbar and back into play.