On paper, this should be a straightforward Arsenal win given recent results for both side, but such is the unpredictable nature of this Premier League season that most would have expected Villa to cause an upset if this was just two weeks earlier. Villa were flying with four wins out of four, but the wheels have come off in recent weeks with two emphatic home defeats.
They were soundly beaten by Leeds at Villa Park before losing 4-3 to Southampton in what on the surface appeared to be a seven-goal thriller but, in reality, was a comfortably win for the Saints considering Villa scored twice in stoppage time.
Dean Smith’s men boasted the best defensive record in the league after four games, but they have conceded more than anyone else over the last two games and now head to an Arsenal side that has recovered well since losing at home to Leicester.
The Gunners were well worth their win at Old Trafford on Sunday and have all but secured their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League following two successive home wins. They are in a much better place than they were two weeks ago and should have no troubles against an out-of-form Villa at 19:15.
Arsenal’s talisman has not enjoyed an ideal start to the new league season, scoring just twice in his opening seven games. He ended a five-game drought at Old Trafford from the penalty spot, but didn’t really have any other chances of note as Arsenal struggled to create yet again.
However, that goal should give Aubameyang’s confidence the boost he so badly needed, and he should now approach this game in much better spirits. The Gabonese striker will be licking his lips at the prospect of going head-to-head with a defence that has shipped seven goals in its last two games and he could prove too hot to handle. This is an excellent opportunity to register his first home goal of the season and he should grab it with both hands.
There’s no point denying it; Arsenal are not the most exciting team in the world. Their last three league games have ended as either 1-0 victories or 1-0 defeats, and they seem incapable of hammering teams into submission.
Mikel Arteta’s outfit is underpinned by a desire to be defensively competent and they rarely risk exposing themselves at the back by committing too many bodies forward. It has resulted in some exceedingly dull performances this term, but Arsenal have undeniably improved defensively, especially with the signing of Gabriel.
They will attempt to stifle Aston Villa’s potent attack in the same way that they stifled Manchester United’s, and Villa could struggle. Dean Smith’s side toiled once they went a goal down against Leeds and they could experience similar frustration if Arsenal take the lead on Sunday.
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