Emi Martinez returns home to the Emirates this Sunday.
His in-form Aston Villa side came out of gameweek four unbeaten, and second in the league. Since then, they’ve lost two on the bounce to Leeds and Southampton, and will return to the Emirates looking to rediscover winning form.
They will meet a battle-tested Arsenal side, who recently snapped a two-game losing streak in the Premier League with a 1-0 win away against Manchester United. They’ll be running high on confidence, as that win also ended a six year winless drought away to the ‘big six’, and was immediately followed up by a 4-1 win against Molde in the Europa League. That win was especially gratifying, as Mikel Arteta rotated nine positions on the night. Only Willian and Bernd Leno retained their starting berths.
As Arsenal will look to dominate possession against Aston Villa, expect Arteta’s hybrid formation to morph into a 4-3-3 in possession, and a 3-4-3 out of it. As the Spaniard continues to playtest a more conventional back-four, expect the full-backs to push high, with the left central midfielder covering wider areas off the ball.
Additionally, look for the balance between flanks, yet another sterling trait Arsenal finally found at Old Trafford. In fact, that balance may just be the decider between victory and defeat for an Aston Villa side that have a penchant for giant-killing. Arsenal will also be looking for revenge for the 1-0 defeat during Project Restart.
On to the starting XI.