What happens when you disturb a beast enjoying his peace? Well, Villa Park is all set to witness the answer to that question, as the ex-league leaders have been dismantled from their top spot. Arsenal will try to regain the throne with one game extra in their hands. A win away at Villa Park will give them a 3 points lead against Manchester City. But Aston Villa will fall no short as they will try to grab a few points with none secured in their previous couple of games.
Arsenal has experienced a dip in their form, lately. Since their defeat to Man City in FA Cup’s 4th round, they have failed to win every match that followed and were able to add just a single point to their tally. This clearly needs to have a full stop. The games have been coming thick and fast, and the stress on the shoulders of the players can be seen clearly.
On the other hand, Aston Villa will be arriving with their pragmatic approach to stop Arsenal from finding the net. Keeping a clean sheet has been a little difficult for the WC Golden Glove winner, Emi Martinez, who will be facing his former club. We will now have to see how Unai will set up against his formerly managed club.
Arsenal’s PL Form: L D L W W
Aston Villa’s PL Form: L L W W D
When & Where?
Date: Saturday, 18 Feb.
Time: 6 PM IST / 12:30 PM GMT.
Venue: Villa Park, Aston, Birmingham.
The long-term absentees Gabriel Jesus and Elneny will not be available for the match. But the condition with midfielders Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe will be assessed by Arteta once again and then a further decision will be made. The Birmingham trip for the two of them still is in doubt.
Well, as for the Villans, there seem to be few new inclusions in the squad, namely Tyrone Mings, Diego Carlos and Bertrand Traore. The defensive solidity will surely be enhanced by the two defenders.
Aston Villa will set up in the classical 4-4-2 formation which Emery adores. Since the manager has arrived in October, the team has been horizontally and vertically compact in the defensive phase. They allow very less space for the opposition to squeeze the ball past the defense. The infamous 6-2-2 formation, while defending, has been the one most talked about. It really gets difficult when there are so many bodies in the box, creating chaos. This is even helped by the physical aspect of Villa defenders.
It’ll be fair to say that like always Arsenal is going to enjoy an enormous amount of possession. The bigger task would be to break those defensive lines. Arteta will be using a 4-3-3 shape, with LB, Zinchenko tucking inside to form a double pivot with Thomas Partey. Granit Xhaka gaining a license to play an advanced role. Saka holding the width and ODE operating in the right half-space trying to find the line-breaking runs offered by Martinelli, Trossard.
Having defensive solidity, Aston Villa still concedes goals week-in week-out. So statistically speaking, there shouldn’t be any problem for Arsenal to putting the ball past the goal line.
Dibu will be the one to look out for in this match for Aston Villa. Arsenal will have more of the ball and given their quick football they will surely create many chances. Emi would be expected to save as many as shots taken by his former club and give them a hard time earning the 3 points. With Mings and Diego Carlos coming back into the team, his task has surely became a bit easy.
The London boy scored the only goal for the gunners in their clash against Man City few days ago. He will be looking towards to be on the scoresheet again, in this crucial match. Saka being the highest goal scorer and assist provider, would be under huge responsibilities. His play will surely determine the course of the game. Digne has a big task to be tackled.
Aston Villa predicted lineup vs Arsenal: Martinez; Digne, Mings, Konsa, Young; Buendia, Luiz, Kamara, Ramsey; Watkins, Bailey.
Arsenal predicted lineup vs Aston Villa: Ramsdale; Zinchenko, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu; Xhaka, Jorginho, Odegaard; Martinelli, Nketiah, Saka.