After a disappointing 2-1 loss away at Wolves, Arsenal will be looking to get back to winning ways in the Premier League against Aston Villa on Saturday.
The less said about the defeat on Tuesday, the better. Referee Craig Pawson was the main topic of discussion on the night as the Gunners finished the match with just nine men. Mikel Arteta’s side were undoubtedly the better of the teams prior to the sending off of David Luiz, but after the farcical red, Arsenal appeared somewhat hopeless throughout the entire second half.
Bernd Leno being sent off after a rush of blood further compiled the misery of the second 45.
To happily veer away from the topic of the loss to Wolves, Villa sit one point above the Gunners in the table, with two games in hand. Dean Smith’s side has looked impressively sharp throughout the campaign as they have struck a fine balance being defensively resolute and taking initiative on the attack.
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Arsenal predicted lineup to face Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday
Up front, Arsenal will have to cope with the likes of Ollie Watkins and the rightfully adored Jack Grealish, both of which have been superb this season. And on the defensive side, it’s impossible for an Arsenal fan to look past the man set to be between the sticks: former keeper Emiliano Martinez.
Aston Villa suffered a surprising loss to West Ham last time out, who are in a rich vein of form themselves. Martinez looked far and away from his best and the Hammers capitalized on it. It would be fair to predict that the 28-year-old may not make the same errors come Saturday against his former club, but if he is not at his best yet again, the Gunners will be in with a major shout for the victory.
As for Arsenal, the likes of David Luiz and Bernd Leno will not be available. The club attempted to appeal the ban for the Brazilian defender, however the plea fell onto stubbornly deaf ears and no reversal of decision occurred.
Kieran Tierney has been taking part in training, but whether he is fully fit or not remains to be seen. the same goes for Pablo Mari. Mat Ryan, Dani Ceballos, and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang all appear fit and could take some part in the affair, with the former rumoured to be available for the clash.
Onto the predicted XI:
Goalkeepers and Defenders
Mat Ryan (GK) – On Friday Ryan took part in full Arsenal training and is available for selection. The Australian shot stopper was brought in on loan specifically for situations such as the current one, and it looks as if the experienced Brighton man might be making his debut. Runar Alex Runarsson would have been set to start, however, if the 28-year-old loanee is fit, he will get the nod.
Hector Bellerin (RB) – Just as my colleague Rob Worthington said for last week’s predicted starting lineup, if Kieran Tierney was fit and ready to play, it would not be all that surprising to see Hector Bellerin dropped to the bench. The Spaniard has not been poor by any means, but Cedric has been superior as of late, and Tierney is one of our most important players.
Rob Holding (CB) – Rob Holding has established himself as our main man in the right side of central defense – the Englishman has been exceptionally consistent and assured as of late. Each match he continues performing well in makes the new contract he signed look all the more brilliant of a decision.
Gabriel (CB) – With Luiz’s red card appeal being rejected, it appears as if Gabriel will be introduced back into the fold. Gabriel was Arsenal’s best defender prior to his injury, but upon his return to action he looked extremely rusty. The effect of said rustiness was Luiz coming in for him, but now with the former Chelsea man out of contention the 22-year-old will get another crack at the whip.
Cedric (LB) – Since coming into the side, Cedric has impressed many with his model professionalism. The Portuguese veteran looks content playing in any position, and in recent matches, he has been doing so effectively. If Tierney is fit, Cedric plays over Bellerin, however if there is any inkling of doubt around the former Celtic man’s fitness, which there appears to be, Cedric should start in his place.