Arsenal travel to Villa Park on Saturday lunchtime to face an Aston Villa side who put the Gunners to the sword in their previous Premier League meeting. Here is the match preview.
A week prior to the reverse clash this season, Arsenal were on cloud nine having ended a barren winless run, not only away at the big six, but at Old Trafford.
That win over Manchester United felt like a watershed moment in Mikel Arteta’s reign, one that was to act as a springboard for a genuine European push. Then, Aston Villa came to town and utterly obliterate them. Playing them off the Emirate Stadium park, it was display that encapsulated all the elements Arsenal lacked.
Villa’s use of the ball was exemplary and their ruthlessness easy on the (neutral’s) eye.
Preview of Aston Villa vs Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday
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Both sides come into this one with two wins from their previous five Premier League encounters, with the hosts sitting above Arsenal by one point in ninth having played two fewer matches this season. As far as building a gap between those in mid-table and the top six, Villa could condemn their opponents to the former of those brackets with a win.
It’s an interesting encounter to analyse. When firing there are few sides as potent in the final third as Villa, fronted by Jack Grealish. Yet, as witnessed against West Ham last time out, if the right spaces are exploited then they can easily ship three at home and get torn through.
As for Arsenal, despite conceding twice at Wolves, their defensive organisation is at its best under Arteta, while the first 46 minutes of that clash showcased the finest example of the Spaniard’s vision on the pitch. Magnificent in every which way, their unfortunate penchant for not killing games off when on top came back to bite them.
Beyond tactics and form for this one, the talking point is in goal. Alex Runarsson looks set to get the nod with Bernd Leno suspended and Mat Ryan out, all the while the exceptional Emi Martinez will watch on from the other end.
An early kick-off awaits.