Aston Villa welcomes Arsenal to Villa Park for the early Premier League Kick-off tomorrow, live on BT Sports.
I feel like all I do at the moment is write match previews and match reports so I can’t imagine how the players are feeling. I guess in one way, what I do and the players do could be seen as similar. In the fact that when you are winning and playing well you love to play as much as possible and that I enjoy writing in a similar situation. But when things are not going your way, tiredness is felt more and in the writing sense, it starts to feel more like a chore.
I don’t want that to come across as being negative either. Our season as a whole has been fantastic. The improvement is there for all to see. The small amount of abuse some of our players receive when things don’t go our way is unacceptable. But all the good things don’t make it any easier for anyone connected with Aston Villa when things aren’t quite going to plan.
The two sides meet in two different contrasts of form. Arsenal have lost one in their previous eight Premier League games while Villa has only won three in the same time frame. You could argue that Villa have had the harder opponent but then most of us will know the performance in the defeat against West Ham on Wednesday day was not acceptable.
Dean Smith referred to Villa’s performance against West Ham as lethargic so he will have to make a decision on whether to stick or twist with a side he has stuck with all season.
Despite talking about how his players looked mentally tired, he said the number suggested that they are not and he expects them to return to the high standards they have already set this season.
Wesley is still some way off. He is back in non-contact training but is still some way away. Kortney Hause is the only other casualty.
Arsenal will be without goalkeeper Bernd Leno and defender David Luiz who are both suspended after being sent off in the Gunners defeat to Wolves in midweek.
Kieran Tierney is still experiencing problems with his lower leg and has been ruled out. There is better news for Pablo Mari (calf) and Mat Ryan (hip) who are both available for selection.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.
Assistants: Daniel Cook, Constantine Hatzidakis. Fourth official: Darren England. VAR: David Coote. Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis.
DID YOU KNOW
If Ollie Watkins scores a double against Arsenal, he will be only the second player in Premier League history to score at least two goals in consecutive matches against the Gunners. The other player was Didier Drogba for Chelsea in 2009/10.
A win for Aston Villa would be their first Premier League double over Arsenal since the 1992/93 campaign.
Arsenal are looking to avoid three consecutive defeats to Villa for the first time since November 1993.
HOW TO FOLLOW
I CANNOT WATCH LIVE
Join fellow Villa supporters by discussing tonight’s game on our forum in our live match chat.
Aston Villa v Arsenal will be shown live in the UK on BT Sport.
It is lucky I am not a betting man because if I was, I would lose a fortune. My predictions this season have not been great, as proved by my position in the Avillafan Prediction league.
As I have already touched upon, as a whole Villa have done well this season. I guess the main hope for tomorrow would be for a much-improved performance. A positive result would be a bonus.
Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal.