Aston Villa are ready to take on the challenge of a visiting Arsenal side aiming to get their top-four chase back on track.
Amid all the emotions at the London Stadium last weekend when Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko scored for West Ham United against Aston Villa, the Villans would have felt the disappointment of falling just short in a competitive game.
While Steven Gerrard’s men were on top in phases against West Ham, he will be looking to improve his side’s ability to capitalise on those phases and control matches for extended periods. Villa put the Hammers under real pressure late on, but could not find a late equaliser.
Despite that loss, Villa still retain slim hopes of finishing in one of the European places. However, much will depend on teams above them dropping points. Following their loss against West Ham, a much bigger test awaits Gerrard’s men in the form of Arsenal.
The Gunners’ five game-winning run was halted by title-chasing Liverpool on Wednesday night at the Emirates. Despite the defeat in a game which was decided on fine margins, Arsenal proved that they are a side on the rise.
Arteta is expected to continue fielding his strongest side when they take on Aston Villa, as a top-four finish is far from certain. Arsenal remain in control of their own destiny in fourth position, one point ahead of Manchester United with two games in hand over them. The clash against Aston Villa will be a big test for Arteta and his players as they look to get back to winning ways.
Team News & Tactics
Steven Gerrard will be making a few necessary changes, dictated by tactics and injuries, ahead of the Arsenal clash. Marvelous Nakamba remains the only certain absentee ahead of the game, although a few more could be doubts due to new problems.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) March 17, 2022
Lucas Digne, who limped off against West Ham, could be out of the game, as the Arsenal clash may be too soon for a return. The Frenchman could target a comeback after the international break. Kortney Hause is also expected to be out of the game with an abdominal issue.
Douglas Luiz and Calum Chambers suffered facial injuries in the previous game and will be assessed before the match against Arsenal. The duo is expected to recover in time to feature from the start. The former Gunners star will be keen on playing against his old side.
Emiliano Buendia’s cameo against the Hammers could force Gerrard to tweak the shape in the final third to accommodate him in the lineup. The Argentine could be in line to replace one of Danny Ings or Ollie Watkins, with the duo misfiring in the previous game.
Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Martinez; Cash, Chambers, Mings, Young; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Coutinho; Watkins
Arteta does not have many fitness concerns after the Liverpool clash. Despite having played two big games in quick succession, there could be no changes to the starting eleven from those encounters, with the manager preferring to keep the faith in his regulars.
Getting set for Saturday 💪
📍 Arsenal Training Centre pic.twitter.com/oXqVdm0hTi
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 18, 2022
Takehiro Tomiyasu was again the focus of team news, as the Japanese full-back eyes a return to first-team action. Arteta mentioned he had a chance to feature, although the manager may not risk it yet considering the international break is just around the corner.
Cedric Soares is expected to keep his place at right-back and will start alongside the same defensive partners who have played in the last seven games.
Thomas Partey could revert to being the sole holding midfielder, as Granit Xhaka could be moved into a left-sided No.8 position in Arteta’s 4-3-3 setup. Martin Odegaard will operate from a right-sided attacking midfield position, with Bukayo Saka linking up with the Norwegian on the same side.
Emile Smith Rowe may not be fully fit yet, despite his cameo against Liverpool, and the 21-year-old might again be on the bench. Gabriel Martinelli should keep his place on the left side, with Alexandre Lacazette leading the line.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney: Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Lacazette, Martinelli
- Arsenal have won their last four away games in the Premier League.
- Bukayo Saka has scored four goals in his last four away games in the Premier League.
- Arsenal have won five of their last seven games in the Premier League.
- Aston Villa have won just once in their last five home games in the Premier League.
- Aston Villa have won three games out of the last four in the Premier League.
Player To Watch
The Brazilian is a player who can be very unpredictable in what he might do on the pitch and it remains his biggest strength. Against Liverpool on Wednesday, Martinelli was a livewire, causing problems for Trent Alexander-Arnold, and the Brazilian will again be a big asset for Arsenal against Aston Villa.
Martinelli is getting more shots on goal, while his defensive contributions have also improved considerably. Slowly but steadily, the young forward is becoming the player who cannot be dropped, and the Brazilian will have another chance to cement his place in the side with a solid performance against Villa.
Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal
Aston Villa certainly have the attacking firepower to score goals against any team in the Premier League, let alone Arsenal. However, Steven Gerrard’s side have not been in the best of form at home in recent weeks.
Arsenal have more at stake here in the clash as Mikel Arteta would like to head into the international break with the team in the top four. Villa may score the odd goal, but the Gunners are expected to be at their attacking best and get back on track after the setback against Liverpool.