Defining weekend ahead for Arsenal in title race

Arsenal face Aston Villa in the Premier League in what is a big weekend for the Gunners.
Aston Villa v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Aston Villa v Arsenal FC - Premier League / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Arsenal face a tough Aston Villa side at the weekend in the Premier League, while the Gunners' other title rivals have what could be considered "easier" contests.

As we approach the Premier League title run-in, every game has a whole lot of pressure attached to it and for Arsenal, the looming clash against Aston Villa is yet another chance for Mikel Arteta's side to lay down a marker.

With Villa currently fifth, level on points with Tottenham, the game at the Emirates is going to be anything but easy as Unai Emery has his team flying.

Arsenal will no doubt be under pressure to secure three points, particularly being at home, but if we look at the fixtures of Liverpool and Manchester City, the Gunners simply can't afford to lose.

Pep Guardiola's side faces Luton Town, while Liverpool will be smarting after their 3-0 loss to Atalanta in the Europa League midweek. What's more, both Liverpool and City play at home, so one could easily envision both picking up three points. This is why Arsenal's clash against Villa takes on a whole new meaning.

A considerably tougher contest than what City or Liverpool have, the Gunners currently sit top of the table and of course will want to stay there. But Villa did beat Arsenal 1-0 back in December at Villa Park thanks to a John McGinn strike just seven minutes in.

So, the dangers will be all too apparent for Arsenal and Arteta despite midfielder Doulas Luiz missing due to his yellow card accumulation. Given the clash is at home, the Gunners have to make it count. With only four home games remaining for the year, Arsenal has to protect its Emirates fortress.

City and Liverpool are "expected" to take care of business, which makes Arsenal's need to secure three points against a tough Villa side even more important.