Aston Villa hosts Arsenal in the Premier League’s early kickoff on Saturday. The hosts have won three of their last four Premier League matches and tend to see plenty of goals scored and conceded at Villa Park. The Gunners have won nine of their last 12 in the league and remain in the top four despite a 2-0 midweek defeat to Liverpool. Mikel Arteta has bemoaned the lack of recovery time ahead of this match and we may see a fatigued Arsenal.
Aston Villa Form
Steven Gerrard has had a mixed time at Aston Villa. His first six matches brought four wins with the two losses coming to Man City and Liverpool. His team then had a run of one win in eight games with five losses. That included a 1-0 loss at then relegation-threatened Newcastle and a 1-0 home loss to Watford.
The side returned to good form in recent weeks. A 2-0 win at Brighton was followed by a 4-0 home thrashing of in-form Southampton. They made it three successive wins by winning 3-0 away at Leeds. Their winning streak ended in the last match as they were beaten 2-1 at West Ham.
Aston Villa Team News
Both Douglas Luiz and Callum Chambers took knocks to the mouth or head in the last match. Both are doubts for this one but the latter is more likely to be available against his former club. Left-back Lucas Digne has a muscle injury and is described as a major doubt by his coach. Midfielder Marvelous Nakamba is still out injured.
Ashley Young is set to deputise for Digne at left-back. If Luiz isn’t fit, then Morgan Sanson could start. Gerrard has been using a midfield diamond with Philippe Coutinho behind Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings. They could change shape slightly with just one striker and an extra midfield body selected for this one.
Aston Villa Motivation
Villa are an attacking side and tend to take the game to opponents at home, even the better sides. They have scored against City, Chelsea, and Man Utd (twice) at home under Gerrard and look to play on the front foot.
Expect a high-energy performance in this match having had a full week to prepare. Villa will play to win but also know that a draw would be a good result.
Arsenal have been in excellent form. They have nine wins in 12 in the league and were on a five-match winning streak before losing their last match. They have been very solid and consistent with big gaps to prepare between matches. After scoring in the last minute to beat Wolves 2-1, they won 3-2 at Watford in a game they controlled better than the scoreline suggests.
After a professional and focused 2-0 home win against Leicester, they were beaten last time out. Liverpool scored twice in the second half to win 2-0 at the Emirates after a first-half where Arteta’s side were slightly superior.
Arsenal Team News
Arsenal have right back Takehiro Tomiyasu training after a long injury and he could finally return to the squad for this match to boost option. Emile Smith Rowe is likely to start in the front four to give some fresh legs without the quick turnaround time from facing Liverpool.
The question is whether any rotation is seen. The Gunners are playing a third match in seven days when they have often had 10 or more days between matches in recent months. Nicolas Pepe could get a start and Eddie Nketiah is another option if Alexandre Lacazette needs a break. In reality, we will probably only see one change to the XI.
The Gunners still sit one point clear in fourth place but Spurs won in midweek and Wolves play on Friday night to close the gap. Tottenham and West Ham face each other on Saturday so Arsenal could take a big step towards fourth with a win as one of their rivals will drop points.
Arsenal will look to control this match with possession. Fatigue could be a factor with just two rest days since facing Liverpool.
Aston Villa have won 1 of their last 5 home PL matches
Villa have conceded in 8 of their last 10 home matches (over 3.5 goals in 4 of last 5)
Aston Villa have scored in 13 of their last 14 home matches in the PL
Villa have won their last 2 home PL matches against Arsenal
Arsenal have won 9 of their last 12 PL matches (L1, D1)
Arsenal have won 4 away PL matches in a row
Arsenal have seen over 3.5 goals in 5 of their last 7 away matches
This should be a really good game. Arsenal needs a win but are being tested by the schedule and faces an enterprising Villa side. Goals look likely in this match and backing the home side to take something looks like good value.
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