Arsenal will hope to rediscover a winning mentality after some disappointing results in the league when they host Aston Villa at the Emirates.
Arsenal could have finished last weekend in third place; instead, they now find themselves below Chelsea and Manchester United in 10th place. That happened due to a Watford fightback, as Arsenal surrendered a two-goal advantage and almost came close to losing all three points, only for goalkeeper Bernd Leno to save their blushes.
That result piled on the pressure on Unai Emery to get his side up to speed this season and Arsenal responded with a 3-0 away win in their Europa League opener against Eintracht Frankfurt. Emery will hope his team mirror that winning mentality into their league season when they host newly-promoted Aston Villa at the Emirates.
Aston Villa will be looking to improve on their form in the league after a slow start to life back in the Premier League. The Birmingham-based side have lost three of their five league games so far and drew their last outing against West Ham United last Monday. They were unable to force a winner over ten-man Hammers as the match finished 0-0.
A bad result against Arsenal will reflect poorly on manager Dean Smith and the club’s massive investment during the summer and pile on the pressure. Villa find themselves in the 18th place in the table following Newcastle’s draw against Brighton on Saturday. They will want to come out of the relegation zone, but will have to overcome Arsenal at the Emirates to do so.
Team News & Tactics
The win over Eintracht Frankfurt will have given Emery some selection headaches for the Villa game. Youngsters, Bukayo Saka, and Joe Willock, with their impressive displays, have put themselves firmly in contention for a starting spot. Saka, in particular, could stake a claim to start ahead of Reiss Nelson in the team and provide an excellent option on the left flank. Emery’s decision here will be crucial.
Willock, on the other hand, might find himself among the substitutes, as Emery is likely to restore Matteo Guendouzi in central midfield. There are chances the manager will field two midfielders, with a No.10 likely to be deployed. Mesut Ozil, who made his first start last weekend might come into the side after being rested against Frankfurt. Dani Ceballos is another option.
In defence, Arsenal will not be able to call upon full-backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney. Despite the duo playing for the U-23 side, they are still short of match fitness. Rob Holding, who has been back in first-team training for a while is still not fit enough to start games, ,eaning, Sokratis, who was rested during midweek is in contention to start alongside David Luiz.
Sead Kolasinac, who is thought to have picked up a minor problem against Frankfurt, will be assessed late on, but he should start at left-back. Ainsley Maitland-Niles will come in for Calum Chambers at right-back. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been in a sensational scoring form will start as Arsenal’s central striker, with Saka and Nicolas Pepe likely to provide the ammunition from the wings.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Guendouzi; Pepe, Ozil, Saka; Aubameyang
There are some injury concerns for Smith to deal with as Jonathan Kodjia, James Chester and Matt Targett are all expected to sit out of the Arsenal game. Targett is thought to be better-placed than the other two to be in contention. Smith, however, is unlikely to take any chances, meaning the experienced Neil Taylor is set to take the field instead, at left-back.
On the other end, Trezeguet is back in contention after serving a suspension. He is likely to be slotted straight into the lineup in a team that lacked spark in the final third against West Ham. Trezeguet will take his place in the front three alongside Wesley and Jota.
The big dilemma will be in choosing who starts in midfield. Marvelous Nakamba, Douglas Luiz and Conor Hourihane are all vying for a single spot in midfield. Hourihane looks well-placed to take that one spot and will start alongside John McGinn and Jack Grealish in a midfield three.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Taylor; McGinn, Hourihane, Grealish; Jota, Wesley, Trezeguet
- Arsenal have won their last six competitive meetings with Aston Villa in all competitions, keeping a clean sheet in each of the previous five.
- Only Manchester United and Chelsea (4) have won more Premier League away games against Arsenal at the Emirates than Aston Villa (3), last winning there in 2013.
- Since the start of last season, Arsenal’s players have made more errors leading directly to goals (14) than any other Premier League team.
- The Gunners have also conceded 10 goals via the penalty spot in this period, a joint-high alongside Brighton.
- Should Arsenal concede a penalty against Aston Villa, they will become the fourth side in Premier League history to face penalties in four consecutive matches.
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.57
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score anytime @ 1.57
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 4.75
Player to Watch
There have been fewer players to have created the kind of fanfare and hype Nicolas Pepe did when he moved to Arsenal from Lille. Despite a genuine impact with his flair and speed, Pepe is yet to make a notable contribution since joining Arsenal. The expectations and belief remain on Pepe’s side, and he needs to repay this faith with some glowing contributions.
Going up against a struggling Aston Villa side, there cannot be a better opportunity to perform for Pepe. This game can be the perfect platform for the attacker to make sure he lives up to the expectations at Arsenal and make a formidable-looking front-three an actual threat.
Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa
Arsenal are a genuine threat in attack, especially at home, but the same cannot be said of their defence. After an opening day clean sheet away to Newcastle United, Arsenal have leaked goals in all other games till date. The Gunners are still struggling, and the feeling is that this will only be resolved once their injured first-team defenders make a comeback.
Villa, though, do not seem to possess the quality that this Arsenal squad can boast of. They are likely to exploit the Arsenal defence at some point in the game, but the Gunners are primed to collect three points and move up in the league table. We at The Hard Tackle predict Arsenal to win the match against Aston Villa by a good margin.