Arsenal U21 4-2 Villa U21: Youngsters beaten despite fightback
Michael Drennan and Graham Burke bagged consolation strikes as Villa produced a Jekyll and Hide performance at Boreham Wood.
Eight days after hitting Newcastle for six, the claret and blues were brought crashing down to earth by a ruthless first-half Arsenal display.
The Gunners surged into a 4-0 lead through Jon Toral's brace and efforts from Serge Gnabry and Emmanuel Frimpong.
But a second-half rally saw Villa salvage some pride, with Drennan scoring on his return from a long-term injury lay-off and Burke opening his account for the season.
It was a first half to forget for Gordon Cowans' team, who made one change from last week's 6-2 win over the Magpies.
Drennan returned after nine months on the sidelines, replacing hat-trick hero Callum Robinson.
But there was little the Republic of Ireland U19 striker could do in the early stages as the home side ran riot.
It could have been a much different scenario had two efforts from Burke found their way into the bottom corner.
Both of Burke's well-struck left-foot shots were brilliantly tipped behind by Arsenal keeper Matt Macey.
And while Villa struggled to convert their chances, Arsenal had no such concerns.
On 15 minutes, the influential Gnabry - who featured in Sunday's Barclays Premier League encounter against Manchester United - arrived to knock in Toral's left-wing cutback from eight yards.
Roles were reversed 10 minutes later when Gnabry made a quick break down the right and teed up Toral to tap home from close range.
Former Barcelona academy starlet Toral made sure of number three on 35 minutes, getting the final touch on the goalline after Benik Afobe beat the offside trap and lobbed Benjamin Siegrist.
Things got worse for Villa on the stroke of half time when Frimpong rose to head Gnabry's cross past Siegrist.
However, Villa showed plenty of character after the break as they attempted to mount a comeback.
Soon after the restart, Drennan latched on to a ball over the top but dragged his left-foot half-volley wide.
On 52 minutes, the Kilkenny-born hotshot got his reward when he reacted quickly to Macey's poor clearance and drilled a low left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Andras Stieber tested the goalkeeper with two stinging attempts from long range.
Burke ensured an intriguing finale when he controlled with his back to goal and slotted underneath Macey with an opportunistic goal 15 minutes from time.
Although it gave Villa a further boost, they were unable to go on and complete a memorable comeback.
ARSENAL: Macey, Yennaris, Ormonde-Ottweill, Hayden, Ajayi, Pleguezuelo, Gnabry, Frimpong, Afobe, Eisfeld, Toral. Subs: Akpom, Huddart, Olsson [for Frimpong, 87], Maitland-Niles [for Toral 77], O'Connor [for Pleguezuelo, HT].
VILLA: Siegrist, Bateman, Kinsella, Webb, Donacien, Lewis, Stieber, Burke, Drennan, Johnson, Graham. Subs: Sellars [for Drennan, 74], Hill, Calder, Abdo.
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