MATCH PREVIEW: Can Arsenal Win 5th in A Row As Aston Villa Visit the Emirates?
Coming off the back of four wins from four, the Gunners will be aiming to keep their 100% record when Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa travel to the Emirates tomorrow night. Despite being in fine, free-flowing form, Arsenal stuttered over the line to come from behind to beat Fulham on Saturday afternoon. So eyes will be on Mikel Arteta’s men, to see if they can cope with the pressure. Let’s take a look through both sides, and what we can expect from the clash.
Arsenal’s fine form
It’s Arsenal’s best start to a season since 2004, when they went on to finish second behind Chelsea. Safe to say a large amount of Gunners fans would be happy should that finish repeat itself. The truth is, despite the scoreline, the game against Fulham may have been the most pleasing for Arteta on a control level. The winner only came with five minutes to go, but there was a sense it was coming. Martin Odegaard was the poster boy for near total domination, at least possession and chance-wise, bar a Gabriel mistake.
Injuries to Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey were both described as small, with the club leaving them out on a precautionary basis at the weekend. Both players could return to the side, and we could also see some rotation with a trip to Old Trafford next weekend. But with the form Arsenal are in, it’s hard to predict anything other than a continuation of their current results. So let’s look at what Aston Villa can offer.
Poor start from Villa
After losing on the opening day to a Bournemouth side who recently lost 9-0 to Liverpool, Aston Villa have just one win to their name and have struggled in their first set of fixtures. That sole victory came at Villa Park, against an equalling disappointing Everton team. So there’s plenty to work on for manager Steven Gerrard, who’s so far failed to impress in England the way he did as a coach in Scotland.
Form aside, Villa do boast some talented players. In fact, if you look at their starting eleven, you’d be forgiven in thinking it could be a strong top half-side. Emi Martinez, Lucas Digne, Boubacar Kamara, Philippe Coutinho, and Danny Ings are just some of the many key names within their lineup. An injury to new signing Diego Carlos has hampered their defensive quality, but there’s no doubt Villa should have made a much stronger start to the new season. The good news for Villa fans is, they’ve gained the most points at the Emirates of any club outside any traditional “big six” side, with 14. Their form when travelling to face Arsenal is certainly reasonable.
Arsenal may include some rotation with this being a midweek clash, although it’s unlikely Mikel Arteta will change his winning team too much. Both Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey may be fit, but an obvious guess is they won’t be included in the starting lineup. Eddie Nketiah may force his way into the team after a strong cameo appearance against Fulham, while Takehiro Tomiyasu, Emile Smith-Rowe, and Fabio Vieira are the clearest candidates to come in should some switch-ups occur. And midfielder Mo Elneny is expected to miss a large number of games due to injury, according to journalist David Ornstein.
While for Aston Villa, former captain Tyrone Mings could be back after illness, with ex-Arsenal player Callum Chambers featuring at the weekend. Two talented names on the Villa bench are Jacob Ramsey and Emi Buendia, who could both start of feature from the bench to make an impact. Leon Bailey is also a name Villa fans have been pleading Steven Gerrard to start, with obvious quality to add into their side.
The reverse fixture last season saw Arsenal run away 3-1 winners, with goals from Partey, Aubameyang, and Smith-Rowe, before a late Jacob Ramsey conciliation. And the last match between the clubs was a 1-0 Gunners victory at Villa Park in March, after a first-half Bukayo Saka goal.
A home win would see Arsenal stay on top of the Premier League, and win their opening five games for the first time since 2004. Villa sit in 15th, and a victory would likely boost them up into the top half of the table. While a defeat would see further fan pressure build on manager Steven Gerrard.
The Gunners are bookies’ favourites for the game, but without both Partey and Elneny, they may suffer both defensively and offensively. But it’s sure to be an intriguing game, so do make sure to tune in.
What the Manager Says (courtesy Arsenal.com)
“I watch the Premier League teams and how physical they [Villa] are,” he said. “Every game here is a battle for everybody, and we don’t expect anything different. Villa are a top team, they have a big squad, top quality players and a good manager, and we expect a difficult game again here on Wednesday
“We’ll watch this game [Fulham] and start to analyse them. Obviously, since we played each other they haven’t changed that much. We’ll play towards the games and prepare as well as possible, but they’re a really physical team with a lot of presence, who are really good at using the box and it will be tough.”
Arsenal Record vs Opponent (League only)
54P 29W 11L 14D
Goals Scored (Season Average)
Arsenal: 3.00 (home)
Aston Villa: .50 (away)
Goals Conceded (Season Average)
Arsenal: 1.50 (home)
Aston Villa: 2.50 (away)
xG per Match (via fbref.com)
Aston Villa: -0.34
Referee: Robert Jones
Assistants: Lee Betts, Ian Hussin
Fourth official: Craig Pawson
VAR: Darren England
Assistant VAR: James Mainwaring
Match Facts (courtesy BBC.co.uk)
- Arsenal did the double over Aston Villa last season – 3-1 at the Emirates and 1-0 at Villa Park.
- Only one of the last 18 Premier League games between these clubs has ended in a draw – Arsenal have won 12 and Villa five.
- If Arsenal win, it will be their 50th top-flight victory against Villa, who have won only 24 of 90 such games.
- Only Chelsea and Manchester City have won more Premier League away fixtures at the Emirates than Villa, who have four victories there.
- The Gunners’ four-match winning start to the season is their fourth in top-flight history and on three of those occasions they have gone on to win the title.
- Arsenal are looking to become the 12th club to start a Premier League season with five victories – but only three of the previous 11 teams to have done that have gone on to lift the trophy.
- Their five-game winning streak – including the final fixture of last season – has equalled their longest such sequence in the league under Mikel Arteta. Since the Arsene Wenger era, only Unai Emery has managed better – a seven-match run four years ago.