Villa arguably the perfect opposition for an Arsenal side in need of a win

Preview of this afternoon’s 4.30 kick off at the Emirates

Villa arguably the perfect opposition for an Arsenal side in need of a win

The usual five talking points ahead of today’s home game versus Aston Villa

Suitable opposition
With Arsenal’s evident defensive frailties, it’s a good time to face Villa, who have failed to score in their last two matches, against Crystal Palace and West Ham. They did manage to get four goals in their first three games, so they are not completely impotent. Let’s just hope their scoring touch remains absent this afternoon, and it would be progress to get their attempts on goal significantly reduced from Arsenal’s last two matches, where the combined forces of Waford and Eintracht Frankfurt managed 55 efforts between them. It’s astonishing that only two goals were conceded if you think about it.

Saka or Ozil?
One imagines that Unai Emery will stick with two wide players either side of his frontman Aubameyang, and Pepe will surely play on the right in this case. After his contribution on Thursday, it would be good to see Bukayo Saka retain his place in the starting eleven, but I have a feeling Emery will have the youngster on the bench at best, and begin Mesut Ozil, nominally on the left hand side, although the German will surely drift. So maybe we’ll have to wait until the Forest game to see more of Saka, which would be a shame. I’d rather see Ozil play in the League Cup!

Midfield shake-up time
The ‘solidity’ of Arsenal’s midfield was marginally better in Franfurt (with Torreira and Willock coming in) than it had been at Vicarage Road. Then again, that’s not saying much. One expects Ainsley Maitland-Niles to return at right back, but there is an argument to give Calum Chambers another start. It could be next to David Luiz, or maybe Emery might use him to beef up the midfield, alongside Torreira and Xhaka (although for a home match, surely Ceballos will take one of the three central spots, albeit in a more advanced position). Chambers didn’t look too comfortable at right back in Germany, even if he tried manfully. He did play a superb ball to Aubameyang on one break forward, but you imagine at home to Villa, Emery would prefer what AMN offers going forward. It would be a shame to see Chambers dropped though given the need for greater solidity.

Good run
Arsenal haven’t faced Villa for over three years, although in their six previous encounters, have won every time, including most memorably the 2015 FA Cup Final. However, the last time the Gunners failed to beat Villa was an equally memorable – for all the wrong reasons – the 3-1 opening day defeat back in 2013. The fans were in uproar after what had been something of an underwhelming summer transfer window, although the club were to placate them by then signing Mesut Ozil. On the back of last weekend’s travesty against Watford, you can’t help feeling that a home defeat today might be equally seismic in terms of fan reaction. It shouldn’t happen, but with this team, you just never know.

Will they be playing it out from the back again?
Arsenal started in Germany playing it short from goal-kicks, before Emilio Martinez presumably disobeyed orders and saw sense. Bernd Leno will return to goal today, and we wait to see if he repeats the tactic which proved so dangerous against Watford. If Chambers does not move into central defence, Emery has the choice of recalling Sokratis – dropped in midweek – or sticking with Mustafi. It seems unlikely that Rob Holding will come back into the starting eleven against Villa given the theoretically gentler prospect of the League Cup game against Forest is only two days later, although for many, it can’t come too soon. Old Trafford awaits in eight days’ time, and in spite of United’s woes, Arsenal need to get their solidity improved before that make that trip. So please guys, whoever plays, let’s limit the shots raining in on the Gunners’ goal.

Arsenal generally beat lesser sides at home, and Villa’s relative lack of firepower upfront is just what the doctor ordered. However, if they can’t get the ball out of their own third easily due to playing it short when Bernd Leno is in possession, things might get jittery. Last season Arsenal started in similar fashion tactically, and eventually dispensed with the idea. Here’s hoping that happens today – because Emery’s personnel simply aren’t good enough not to get caught with their pants down playing this way. I’m going for a home win anyway, but sadly no clean sheet. So 3-1. Anything less than a win simply doesn’t bear thinking about, and the atmosphere at the Emirates could turn very ugly if the team fail to deliver what should be a routine three points.


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  1. markymark

    Sep 23, 2019, 8:16 #114946

    Man UTD 1-3 Arsenal or Man UTD 5-1 Arsenal ? Thoughts anyone ?!? I’m genuinely thinking it could be either

  2. TonyEvans

    Sep 22, 2019, 19:26 #114945

    Undoubtedly a thrilling game for sure, but with absolutely no satisfaction to be had in the performance overall. Until we see a proper solid defensive display to back-up our forward play we are going nowhere fast. I can’t for the life of me see that happening under Emery.

  3. John F

    Sep 22, 2019, 18:55 #114944

    Guendouzi was magnificent in that 2nd half and might of saved Dicks bacon.The sending off was harsh but Villa were the better side in the 1st half as we appeared clueless.The 2nd half was a different story apart from the now expected defensive lapse.Guendouzi just took it in upon his self to just have a go and it inspired the whole team.Xhaka is a brainless player already on a yellow could quite easily been booked again at the start of the second half and eventually Dick saw sense and took him off.Hopefully now Dick can see the value of Chambers of having Chambers in the side.

  4. markymark

    Sep 22, 2019, 18:00 #114943

    It’s back to the do we go down the cynical route of almost hoping for disaster to shift Emery ( always a point of attack from the Wengo Boy’s back in day) or wish Emery the best? Two highly experienced managers Mourinho and Allegri both currently unemployed. Emerys failure to pick up on his language skills and poor charisma will make it easier to sack him

  5. Bard

    Sep 22, 2019, 14:42 #114942

    Bottom line is most of us have no idea how games will turn out under Dick. We could easily thrash Villa and just as easily lose. I dont think Watford getting thrashed did him favours in the long run.He doesnt seem to know his best team or which system he prefers. It basically Wenger mark 2. For what its worth a few more bad results and he will be gone by Xmas. Top 4 is easier to achieve than its been for years, I dont believe Stan or more precisely Josh will sit on their hands. It looks weak and sends the wrong message.

  6. Paulo75

    Sep 22, 2019, 13:01 #114941

    Come on you Gunners. Would be good to see Pepe get off the mark ahead of next week at Old Trafford.

  7. John F

    Sep 22, 2019, 9:40 #114940

    Should be a win but you could have swapped Arsenal and Villa around in the headline. Villa no goals in two games then along comes the Arsenal defence.

  8. Pauljames

    Sep 22, 2019, 9:35 #114939

    Perfect opposition.....routine win, wish I shared your optimism Kevin. The truth is we can’t be relied on to beat anybody these days.