Arsenal will continue their Premier League campaign as they host Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium later today. The Gunners are coming on the back of a 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in midweek. But, things could be tricky against a Villa side that have fared quite well defensively.
The newly-promoted outfit, however, are dawdling at the wrong end of the table and will be desperate to cause an upset in north London this weekend.
How could Arsenal approach this game?
Unai Emery is expected to field a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leading the attack. Pepe will look to test Tyrone Mings with his trickery while Aubameyang’s pace will be useful against Bjorn Engels. These two will look to make runs in behind the defence.
The Gunners will dominate the possession, with the trio of Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Dani Ceballos starting in midfield.
Ceballos, however, could shift into a more attacking role and partner Mesut Ozil, making it almost a 4-2-2-2. It will be interesting to see how these two players fare alongside each other this weekend.
Emery could use Joe Willock or Lucas Torreira later in the game. The Spaniard suggested that the Torreira could be utilised in a more attacking role following his performance against Frankfurt.
How should Aston Villa respond?
To nullify the pace of both Pepe and Aubameyang, Aston Villa manager Dean Smith will likely employ a deep defensive block. He could even use Marvelous Nakamba as an auxiliary centre-back during defensive phases while John McGinn is likely to drop out in the number six – making it look like an unorthodox 5-1-3-1.
In attack, fullbacks Frederic Guilbert and Neil Taylor will look to provide support to the wide attackers in Anwar El Ghazi and Jota. Both of these wingers should look to take full advantage of Arsenal’s attack-minded fullbacks. Ainsley Maitland-Niles, in particular, could be identified as a weak link.
Speaking of a weak link, Arsenal have struggled to play out from the back. And Smith will have that in mind, meaning we can expect Wesley to pressure on the duo of Sokratis and David Luiz when they receive the ball. Jota and El Ghazi could also help out the Brazilian in the first line of press.
How will this game pan out?
Arsenal are the clear favourites to win this game if they maintain their stability at the back. They also need to minimise their defensive build-up play. Nonetheless, their pace on the break coupled with Aston Villa’s lack of potency up front means the Gunners should easily walk away with all three points this weekend. Famous last words!