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The Premier League title race intensifies: Arsenal vs Aston Villa – Preview

The Gunners Arsenal are currently enjoying a ten-game unbeaten run, and they secured a convincing 3-0 victory over Brighton in their last match. Their momentum continued in the Champions League with a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Bayern Munich. Meanwhile, Aston Villa are still in the hunt for a coveted Champions League spot, and they are looking to bounce back from a dramatic 3-3 draw with Brentford. They had led 2-0 early on before conceding three goals in nine second-half minutes. They somehow managed to salvage a draw through Ollie Watkins’ late header. However, dropping points saw them fall to fifth place, level on points with Tottenham Hotspur. They also hold a 2-1 lead from the first leg of their Europa Conference League tie against Lille.

Arsenal have lost only four games in the league this season, one of which was the reverse fixture at Villa Park in December. In that match, John McGinn’s seventh-minute strike was the decider. Arsenal had plenty of chances on goal, but their dominance with possession couldn’t earn them a goal past Emiliano Martinez. They missed the clinical factor throughout the fixture.

The visitors played in the Europa Conference League vs Lille on Thursday and are quite unlucky in their scheduling spot, whereas Arsenal get an extra two days to prepare for the fixture. Can Mikel Arteta’s boys take their revenge for the reverse fixture and continue to soar at the top of the Premier League?

Also read: Citizens On A Quest: Crystal Palace Vs Manchester City Match Preview

When & Where?

Date: 14th April 2024, Sunday.
Time: 9:00 PM IST
Venue: Emirates Stadium

Match Officials

Referee: David Coote.
Assistants: Tim Wood, Mark Scholes.
Fourth Official: Paul Tierney.
VAR: Peter Bankes.
Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton.

Team News

Arsenal had no new fresh injury concerns after their mid-week fixture against Bayern Munich. Jurien Timber has been training with the squad but the Villa game might come too soon for him.

On the other hand, Unai Emery’s boys have a handful of injuries to deal with. He’ll have to line up without Matty Cash, Lenglet, Mings, Jacob Ramsey, Buendia, and Kamara.

Additionally, midfield maestro Douglas Luiz will miss the fixture as he’s picked up his 10th yellow card for the season and would serve a two-game suspension.

Pre-Game Tactical Analysis

Both sides will aim to get three points for different reasons as Arsenal are eyeing the Premier League title and Aston Villa are in need of points to secure a Champions League spot. Arsenal might want to test with their lineup and make a few changes, but at the same time could want to go with their strongest lineups. However, it’s expected that Arteta adapts to his squad accordingly.

Zinchenko or Tomiyasu could earn a start ahead of Kiwior as he didn’t have the best night personally vs Bayern. Jorginho is expected to be rested for the Bayern fixture which might result in Arteta forming a pivot of Partey and Rice or even partner ESR with Declan Rice. Trossard and Jesus both combined for the goal midweek and might start ahead of the regulars too, although that’s being too optimistic.

Unai Emery’s side are a well-balanced side, ever threatening in attack but have concerns when it comes to their defensive setup. Arsenal needs to be wary of Villa’s play on the channels and narrow it down for them. Their pacey wingers, especially Bailey and Diaby, are threats when they have the ball at their feet.

Villa could take advantage of Arsenal’s LHS inversion from the LB if Zinchenko starts, trying to run them down the wings and find Watkins in the box if needed.

Arsenal’s backline have been the hardest to have a sniff at this season as they’ve managed to concede only 24 goals this season (least in the league) and could get really tricky for Emery’s men to have a whack at goal and try expose their rigid defensive structure.

An opportunity for Arsenal to show another dominant display at home while also be keen to keep things tight at the top of the league.

Also read: Spurs Beat Nottingham Forest In Newcastle United Vs Tottenham Hotspur: Match

Key Players

Bukayo Saka

Saka has been in splendid form for the Gunners this season scoring 18 goals while assisting 13 for the team. His ever-present threat on the right wing is no surprise to any team in world football. His effortless ability to cut in with his favourite left foot and fancy a shot at goal always pose a threat. With Odegaard and White being as constant passing and overlapping options for the English international, he could make the most of it by getting in the central areas and creating more from there. Can Saka keep Arsenal’s title race hopes ticking in another important fixture?

Ollie Watkins

Villa’s main attacking outlet is certainly in the prime of his life this season. With 18 goals and 10 assists, he’s leading the charts for the most contributions in the league this season. His clinical finishing and ability to get into the right spaces at the right time that has made him a game-changer this season. His aerial presence from corner or free-kick situations can be a threat to Arsenal. Watkins’ playmaking and link-up play allow to hold off defenders and create chances for his teammates too. Can Arsenal’s renowned defence keep him out of the game?

Also read: Football Brighton Assistant Andrea Maldera: The Significance Of Possession

Predicted Lineups

Arsenal predicted lineup vs Aston Villa: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu, Rice, Partey, Odegaard, Martinelli, Havertz, Saka.

Aston Villa predicted lineup vs Arsenal: Martinez, Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Digne, Iroegbunam, Tielemans, Diaby, McGinn, Rogers, Watkins.

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