Aston Villa heads to the capital today to take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Dean Smith will be hoping his Villa side can return to winning ways after two defeats in a row put an end to Villa’s four-match winning run start to the Premier League season.
Going into the first lockdown Villa were not able to find a win for love nor money. As we came out of lockdown we had a completely different outlook and wrote off many pundits but doing the impossible and surviving in the Premier League for another season.
Fast forward to now and we are a few days into our second lockdown, once again looking to return to winning ways. You could argue that its different to before for many reasons but the one comparison is allowing those demons to creep back in. Slow starts, mistakes and arriving at the party to little too late.
Arsenal are a much better footballing side under Mikel Arteta, even if his record isn’t too dissimilar to that of their former manager, Unai Emery. They look like they are united and are buying into what Arteta is trying to build at the Emirates. They press better and seem to fight as a team. Something you wouldn’t necessarily associate with Arsenal in the past.
Despite these improvements, I do believe that we could cause a shock today – IF we turn up. For every win over Manchester United or Chelsea, there has been a shock defeat at the hands of someone like Brighton. They may be improving but so are we. It will certainly be an interesting encounter between two sides who have improved but still have their demons in the background.
Aston Villa are expected to hand a return to Trezeguet after Bertrand Traore was ruled out until after the international break with a groin strain that he picked up in the defeat against Southampton.
Tom Heaton is back in full training but it remains unclear as to when he will return to the matchday squad.
Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns and are expected to return to their preferred Premier League line up and rotation for the mid-week Europa League win over Molde.
Video via avfc.co.uk
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Nick Hopton. Fourth official: Graham Scott. VAR: David Coote. Assistant VAR: Stephen Child.
DID YOU KNOW
Aston Villa are the only side in the Premier League to not concede a goal away from home this season.
Only Tottenham teammates Harry Kane (14) and Son Heung-Min (10) have been involved in more goals than Jack Grealish (8) in the Premier League this season.
Despite having the best defensive record in the Premier League, Arsenal have not kept a clean sheet in at The Emirates Stadium in their last six games.
Despite us losing the last two games in the Premier League, for some reason, I feel optimistic about tonight’s game and I don’t know why. Arsenal are a much different test to the Arsenal we met at the back end of last season and it won’t be easy.
Arsenal 0-1 Aston Villa.