Olivier Giroud put the Gunners ahead on eight minutes, latching onto a brilliant flick by Mesut Ozil. Following an improved spell by Villa, whose last Premier League goal came against Manchester United on December 20, Ozil doubled Arsenal’s lead early in the second half with another well-taken breakaway finish. Press Association Arsenal closed the gap on the top four of the Barclays Premier League as they romped to a 5-0 win over Aston Villa, whose goal drought continued at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal thought they had doubled their lead when Ozil exchanged passes with Cazorla in the right side of the penalty box before lashing the ball past Guzan. However, the assistant referee on the nearside raised his flag against the Spaniard, who looked level in the build-up. Guzan then beat away Ramsey’s 18-yard snapshot. On 41 minutes, Villa were close to breaking their goal drought when a bullet header from Andreas Weimann was saved brilliantly at point-blank range by David Ospina, again preferred to Wojciech Szczesny in the Arsenal goal. Villa had, though, set an unwanted record of some 570 minutes without a league goal, which continued to rise as the Clock End ticked on into the second half. After taking time to get into a rhythm again, Arsenal doubled their lead on 56 minutes. Walcott broke down the right, feeding Giroud in the centre. The France forward laid the ball off to Ozil rampaging down the left. The German took one touch to set himself at the edge of the penalty area, before clipping a left-foot finish into the bottom right corner with a finish of the highest order. Arsenal were in cruise control, and went 3-0 ahead with another quality finish on 63 minutes. Walcott collected a throw-out from Ospina, and darted forwards. The England forward, who was out for the best part of a year with a knee injury, exchanged passes with Cazorla before taking the ball inside at the edge of the Villa penalty area and then dispatching it into the right corner. Villa, just three points above the relegation zone, made a double change as Scott Sinclair, signed on loan from Manchester City, made his debut, with Gabby Agbonlahor also coming on as Tom Cleverley and Weimann went off. Giroud’s flicked header hit the crossbar from a free-kick by Cazorla. Arsenal were awarded a penalty on 75 minutes when Guzan upended substitute Chuba Akpom. Cazorla struck his spot-kick down the middle of the goal, and although Guzan got a hand to the ball, he could not keep it out. In stoppage-time, Guzan got down quickly to deny Akpom, before Bellerin stroked home a fifth from just outside the box, low into the far corner. Theo Walcott scored his second in as many games to make it 3-0 on 63 minutes, with Santi Cazorla adding a fourth from the penalty spot before full-back Hector Bellerin rolled in his first senior Arsenal goal in stoppage time. Arsenal, who head to Tottenham next weekend, started brightly as Aaron Ramsey fired wide from the edge of the Villa penalty area. The visitors were cut open again on eight minutes as Arsenal took the lead. Ozil clipped an expert volleyed pass from the centre-circle over the high Villa backline, which allowed Giroud to race clear. The France forward kept his composure, carrying the ball into the penalty area as Jores Okore tried to get back to cover, before chipping an angled, left-foot shot across Brad Guzan and into the bottom right corner. Arsenal remained on the offensive. Villa defender Ciaran Clark was alert to nod the ball behind after Laurent Koscielny’s header flew across the six-yard box towards Per Mertesacker at the far post. Villa had settled into a spell of possession, without making progress in the final third, when Arsenal suddenly sprung into life again on 26 minutes. Cazorla weaved to the edge of the Villa penalty area and sent a low shot goalwards, which beat Guzan but cannoned off the foot of the left-hand post.
RAY PFEIFFER/Herald photoNobody is safe from harm when it comes to football. Whether you’re on the field or not, whether you’re wearing a jersey or not, anybody can get hurt in such a violent game.The trainers were busy on both sidelines of Wisconsin’s 13-3 victory over Penn State Saturday, in a game that left a player, a coach and a referee injured when the dust had finally settled.Perhaps it was a bad omen when linesman Mike Mahouski was injured on the opening kickoff and did not return, forcing the rest of the officiating crew to work shorthanded for just about an entire game.The Penn State coaching staff could relate, as PSU head coach Joe Paterno was knocked out of the game in the third quarter after failing to get out of the way of a tackle on the sideline. When Badgers linebacker DeAndre Levy tackled Nittany Lions tight end Anthony Quarless on the PSU sideline, Levy’s helmet hit the 79-year-old coaching icon square in his left knee, sending Paterno sprawling to the turf.After being attended to by PSU assistants and trainers for eight or nine minutes, Paterno was helped to a bench, where a brace was applied to his leg. After being fussed over for the entire third period — Paterno reportedly resisted all requests to be taken to the locker room as long as he could — the legendary coach was carted off the field. He then was promptly flown back to University Park, Pa., with Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Penn State’s director of athletics medicine.Sunday, it was revealed Paterno fractured ligaments in his left leg. However, the man who has missed the opening kickoff just twice in his 41-year career as a head coach is expected to be on the field this Saturday against Temple.When Paterno was knocked out of action, PSU defensive coordinator Tom Bradley assumed head coaching duties for the remainder of the contest, and spoke after the game on behalf of the injured coach.”I’ve been around Coach a long time, and I know the one thing he didn’t want to hear from me is, ‘Are you okay?’ He just wanted to hear about the football team; he wanted to talk about the plays; he wanted to talk how we were going to communicate. That’s all he wanted to talk about.”Bradley, who is in his 28th year working alongside Paterno, said the “wiry old rascal” of a coach was not at all interested in receiving condolences for his injury.”If I were to ask him, ‘How were you feeling?’ I think he might have punched me,” Bradley said. “I know him, he would not want you to worry one second about him, because he’ll probably be out chasing after officials next Saturday.”Paterno’s son, Jay, is the Nittany Lions’ quarterbacks’ coach and said he hadn’t been fully aware of his father’s condition during the game. The younger Paterno added he was as confident as Bradley that the legendary coach would be back on the sidelines next week against Temple.”Obviously, I’m worried about him, but I also know he’s tough, and he’ll still be around,” Paterno said. “I’m sure he’ll be driving us nuts this week.”On UW’s sideline, John Stocco was knocked out of the game as well, after being sacked by PSU’s Sean Lee with 10 minutes remaining in the game. UW head coach Bret Bielema downplayed the injury, saying he wasn’t “overly concerned” with Stocco’s injury to his right shoulder. Tyler Donovan finished out the game for Stocco and completed one 2-yard pass to Paul Hubbard while also scrambling for a 20-yard gain late.Stocco’s status for next week’s game at Iowa is unclear, and if the fifth-year veteran can’t play, Donovan would be the starting quarterback in Wisconsin’s Big Ten finale. Players offered votes of confidence after the game, in the case that Donovan would start against the Iowa Hawkeyes.”I think Tyler gives us a little bit of a different dimension,” UW offensive tackle Joe Thomas said. “We can throw some different game plan plays in there, and I’d be very confident with Tyler back there.””I don’t think we’re going to have to do anything preparation-wise differently [for Iowa],” Hubbard said. “It’s like an assembly line — once somebody goes down, somebody else is going to step in, and we’re just going to hopefully keep moving the ball and just doing the things that we’ve been doing.”Penn State running back Tony Hunt and defensive end Tim Shaw were also shaken up during the game.