Aston Villa travel down to North London to kick off this weekend’s Premier League football with a Friday evening game at Arsenal.
The Villans go to the Emirates Stadium off the back of two defeats away to Tottenham Hotspur and most recently last weekends capitulation at home to Wolves, letting a 2-0 lead slip late on.
Dean Smith’s men will not only be wanting a win but in an unpredictable league it becomes important after a string of defeats to not get into a rut.
Arsenal sit one place and one point above Villa and unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches winning three against Norwich City, Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur before drawing with Brighton and Crystal Palace of late.
Mikel Arteta continues to try and find some consistency and the unbeaten run may be the start of a positive spell for the Gunners.
Villa will be hoping to continue their recent successful record against Arsenal having won their last three games against them without conceding a goal.
Last season saw Villa win 3-0 away with an own goal from Bukayo Saka before a brace from Ollie Watkins. The home game saw Ollie Watkins score again with an early goal to complete the double over the North Londoners.
Arsenal Team News
Bukayo Saka faces a late fitness test after a knock to his calf in the recent 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace and Granit Xhaka (knee) is a certain absentee.
Alexandre Lacazette scored last time out which will make it tough for Mikel Arteta to select his starting frontline having not started the Frenchman this season.
Possible starting line up:
Ramsdale, Tomayasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Odegaard, Partey, Smith-Rowe, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Aston Villa Team News
Matty Cash should make the game despite being forced off against Wolves with a dead leg and Trezeguet remains an absentee as he continues to recover from the knee ligament damage sustained last season.
Leon Bailey could finally make his first start and Bertrand Traore has recovered from his injury on international duty with Keinan Davis returning to training.
Possible starting line up:
Martinez, Targett, Mings, Konsa, Cash, Luiz, McGinn, Bailey, Buendia, Watkins, Ings
One to watch:
Emile Smith-Rowe is today’s pick for the one to watch.
In what felt a slightly chaotic transfer story, the impressive youngster was linked with Villa with reported knockbacks in regards to a number of bids.
Smith-Rowe is a firm fan favourite being an Arsenal fan and coming up through the ranks and being given the number 10 shirt signals a firm intention from the Gunners to make him a prominent and integral part of the starting eleven.
His goal and assist against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur showed a maturity and quality that Arsenal craved last season.
A clever midfielder with good feet and the ability to create and score, he will also be aiming to back up staying at Arsenal against the side repeatedly linked to him throughout the summer.
Head to Head record:
Arsenal 83 wins, 45 Draws, Aston Villa 69 wins
Last five meetings:
06 Feb 2021 – Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal (Premier League)
08 Nov 2020 – Arsenal 0-3 Aston Villa (Premier League)
21 Jul 2020 – Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal (Premier League)
22 Sep 2019 – Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa (Premier League)
15 May 2016 – Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa (Premier League)
AVILLAFAN MATCH PREDICTION
Another tricky one to predict.
Villa need to attack and take the game to Arsenal with what will be as close to our strongest side as we have had available all season.
Both sides can be suspect at the back so goals should be in order and with the league positions as close as they are a draw could be on the cards.
Arsenal 2-2 Aston Villa
Tip of the day
Ollie Watkins has a good record against Arsenal, scoring three goals against them last season.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is always a good shout to score for Arsenal and penalties give him another chance to score.
Both players to score is available at around 15/2.
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