Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has praised Emile Smith Rowe for changing his lifestyle after the 21-year-old midfielder helped the Gunners to a thoroughly deserved victory over Aston Villa as they moved into the top half of the Premier League table.

Thomas Partey headed in Smith Rowe’s corner for his first goal for the Gunners – having earlier hit the crossbar.

Right at the end of the first half, Arsenal were given a penalty after a long video assistant referee review for a Matt Targett foul on Alexandre Lacazette.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty was saved excellently by former Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez, but the Gabon striker put home the rebound from close range.

Villa improved on a thoroughly wretched first half, but Smith Rowe scored Arsenal’s third 11 minutes into the second half.

He won the ball in his own half and then finished the move via a deflection and the post.

The visitors got a consolation when Jacob Ramsey curled his first Villa goal into the top corner from 20 yards. They put on good pressure and created a few chances in the closing stages but it was too little, too late.

Villa saw two bids for England Under-21 international Smith Rowe turned down in the summer, with Arteta insisting he was never worried he would leave the Emirates Stadium.

Smith Rowe now has two goals and two assists this season and Arteta has been pleased with the development of the academy graduate.

He said: “When you want to take the game to the next level, when you become a real important player in such a big club, that should be the only priority and every detail is important and relevant.

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“You have to make him aware of that, you cannot give percentages away that can make big differences and he has changed that.

“There is no complaining, he is just looking forwards, he is really determined, he has changed the way he is living as well a little bit and some of the habits that he had and he’s been superb.”

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