It was an even start to the match, with the two opposing strikers Walcott and Christian Benteke being caught offside as they looked to get in behind and score an early goal.
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The first threat in the penalty area arrived in the eighth minute when Alexis Sanchez fed Santi Cazorla, and the Spaniard's low cross was turned behind for a corner by the sliding Ron Vlaar. A pair of Arsenal corners followed and, from the second, Laurent Koscielny only managed to head wide when unchallenged.
Tom Cleverley was shown the first yellow card of the match by referee Jonathan Moss in the 14th minute and, from the resulting free kick, Arsenal could have scored only for Koscielny to head too close to Shay Given, who made an acrobatic stop with his right hand.
Minutes later, the Gunners again threatened and this time Aaron Ramsey was twice guilty of failing to hit the target, first stroking into the side-netting from a tight angle before blazing over with just Given to beat.
Villa were struggling to have any impact in the opposing half and, but for an instinctive piece of defending from Kieran Richardson, they would have fallen behind in the 24th minute. Mesut Ozil crossed low for Walcott and the Englishman appeared to have the simplest of conversions, but Richardson slid in to somehow block on the line.
Neat work down the left resulted in Nacho Monreal digging out a cross to the back post, where Sanchez got up well to head back across goal for Walcott, who lashed home a left-footed volley at the near post.
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