Arsenal will be hoping to extend their good run of form when they play hosts to Aston Villa on matchday eight of the 2020/21 Premier League this weekend.
Arsenal will be aiming to move up the rungs on the Premier League table when they lock horns with Aston Villa at the Emirates in what will be the final game of matchday eight on Sunday night.
Mikel Arteta’s men are in a good moment currently, having picked up three wins in three across all competitions since losing to Leicester City last month. Arsenal beat Manchester United 1-0 in the league last week, following it up with a 4-1 win over Molde in the UEFA Europa League. Ninth in the table heading into the matchday, the Gunners will be hoping to close the gap to the top.
Aston Villa, who are sixth in the table, have somewhat lost their way over the past couple of weeks after a sensational start to the season which saw them inflict a 7-2 defeat on champions Liverpool. Having lost 3-0 to Leeds United, Dean Smith’s men fell to a 4-3 defeat against Southampton last weekend, although it must be said that they showed tremendous spirit in the second half to take the game close.
The corresponding fixture last season saw a ten-man Arsenal side come back from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the late winner. And, ahead of their latest meeting this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Reiss Nelson is the latest casualty for Arsenal with the academy graduate missing the midweek game against Molde with an injury. He is unlikely to be available for Sunday’s game, along with Calum Chambers, Gabriel Martinelli as well as Pablo Mari.
Mikel Arteta is expected to ring in the changes after having made quite a few alterations to the starting XI for the Europa League clash. Bernd Leno will be one of the few players who will retain his spot in the lineup, with the German starting under the woodwork once again.
While David Luiz is back to full fitness and played in midweek, Rob Holding’s performance against Manchester United last week ought to earn him another start alongside the brilliant Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney in the three-man backline for Arsenal. Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka ought to be the two wing-backs against Villa.
In midfield, Thomas Partey, who was top notch at the weekend against Manchester United last weekend, should return to the playing XI after not featuring in midweek. He should have Mohamed Elneny as his partner once again, with the Egyptian impressing heavily since returning from loan.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ought to return to the starting XI, slotting in on the left flank while Nicolas Pepe’s performance in midweek could see him getting the nod on the right-wing, with Alexandre Lacazette starting through the middle.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Bellerin, Elneny, Partey, Saka; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Striker Wesley Moraes and summer signing Bertrand Traore have been ruled out of the contest for the visitors, while goalkeeper Tom Heaton and defender Kortney Hause will undergo late fitness tests to determine their availability for the weekend clash.
Despite losing the last two matches, manager Dean Smith is unlikely to make many changes to the starting lineup or the formation, meaning we will see Aston Villa lining up in a 4-2-3-1 setup once again at the Emirates Stadium.
Ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez will return to the Emirates for the first time after leaving for Villa this summer and will be keen on proving a point to his old employers. He will be shielded by an unchanged backline of Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Matt Targett.
John McGinn and Douglas Luiz will occupy the pivot positions in the middle of the park, with the former having the license to push forward in the attacking phases. On-loan Englishman Ross Barkley has made quite the impact since joining and will start as the central attacking midfielder.
Captain and star man Jack Grealish is an undisputed starter on the left-wing, although the England international will look to drift in centrally each time he gets on the ball. His link-up play with Barkley and striker Ollie Watkins will be key for the Villans. Trezeguet ought to return on the right flank replacing Traore.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn; Trezeguet, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins
- Under 3.5 Match Goals @ 1.44
- Full-Time Result – Draw @ 4.10
- Arsenal have won their last three home league games against Aston Villa by an aggregate score of 12-2. However, only Chelsea (5), Manchester City and Manchester United (4 each) have won more away games at the Emirates than the Villans (3).
- Aston Villa are looking to win consecutive league games against Arsenal for the first time since 1998, although, both victories back then came at the Villa Park.
- Arsenal lost 0-1 against Leicester City in their previous home game in the Premier League, which was their first home defeat at the Emirates in 2020. They last lost back-to-back league games in December 2019 (three in a row), while last failing to score in consecutive home games in the league in 2016.
- Aston Villa are the only side yet to concede a goal away from home in the Premier League this season.
- Arsenal have the best defensive record in the Premier League this season, having conceded just seven times. However, the North Londoners haven’t kept a clean sheet at the Emirates in any of their last six league outings.
Player to Watch
The likes of Jack Grealish and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will certainly be pivotal to their team’s chances on Sunday. However, one man who will be a touch extra-motivated than the rest will be Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. The Argentine played an integral role in Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph last season, only to be sold in the summer.
2020-2021 🏴 Premier League Clean Sheets Leaders
Rui Patrício (4)
Alex McCarthy (3)
Edouard Mendy (3)
Emiliano Martínez (3)
Bernd Leno (2)
Kasper Schmeichel (2)
Illan Meslier (2)https://t.co/jQD5QR2ZSP
— ⚽️FBref.com⚽️ (@fbref) November 6, 2020
Since joining the Villans, Martinez has continued where he left off, playing an integral role in their impressive start to the new campaign, managing the joint second-most shut-outs in the league so far (3). And although he ended up conceding seven goals in the last two matches, he will be driven to take home a clean sheet from the Emirates this weekend.
Arsenal 1-1 Aston Villa
Arsenal have strung together a good run of results since losing to Leicester, while Aston Villa head into the game on the back of two consecutive defeats. The Gunners have shown new-found solidity at the back since the addition of Partey and Gabriel. However, Villa have shown that they can be a serious threat, with Watkins, Barkley and Grealish all capable of moments of brilliance.
On current form, Arsenal might have the edge but it might not be all too easy for the hosts as a motivated Emi Martinez can be a major thorn in their side. Thus, The Hard Tackle is tentatively predicting this one to end in a tightly-contested stalemate.