Arsenal beat Manchester United 1-0 last week in the Premier League, winning their first game at Old Trafford since 2006. Midweek, they comfortably subdued Molde 4-1 in the Europa League. Next up for the Gunners is the Arsenal vs Aston Villa game at the Emirates on Sunday.
What a season Aston Villa have had so far in terms of highs and lows. Having ripped Liverpool to shreds 7-2, all the indicators hinted at a solid and competitive start for the Midlanders, but this season is proving difficult to predict, with the fancied sides failing on occasion and the likes of Everton, Southampton, and Villa punching above their weight.
Aston Villa are a well organised attacking side and they can easily cause problems for any of the top six. The Villans are similar to the Gunners in terms of inconsistency and it will all come down to desire on the day.
The Lions will be fired up for the Arsenal vs Aston Villa contest, despite hitting a wall against Leeds and Southampton. The most interesting detail from those two games is that they have conceded seven goals in two games and are undeniably there for the taking.
Dean Smith’s side had the run of midfield last time out and a general appetite for the game, which reduced Arsenal to onlookers for large periods when they lost 1-0. Now, they will have to contend with Thomas Partey who could easily mop up a lot of the Villa forays.
Jack Grealish is the pick of the bunch from the visitors, but Villa have a great work ethic and general togetherness. They will no doubt try to press Arsenal, block the flanks and contain Aubameyang to get the advantage. Arsenal will need to build on recent victories by coming out aggressively and try to pick off Villa’s defence, which will be fairly jittery under the circumstances.
Arteta’s men need to release the ball quickly and ultimately, make the most of Saka, Aubameyang, Lacazette, or Nketiah. The Arsenal side will look vastly different from the Europa League concoction that seemed drastically imbalanced but won through in the end.
I expect Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney to return, with Gabriel, David Luiz, and Rob Holding comprising a back three. Partey will be in the middle with possibly Dani Ceballos to push the creativity in attack. Mohamed Elneny gave his best performance in an Arsenal shirt against United and will feel slightly disappointed not to be included but his exclusion is purely down to a tactical tweak.
The Arsenal vs Aston Villa match will present both sides with a difficult and challenging first 45, where Arsenal need to set the pace but essentially, they need to take their chances which one assumes, will be few and far between.
However, if Arsenal get their noses in front, they could finally prosper in front of goal. The smart money is on a draw, but I’m going for a 3-0 Arsenal win even with the superb Emi Martinez now in a Villa shirt.
Leno; Holding, Luiz, Gabriel;
Bellerin, Ceballos, Partey, Tierney;
Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.