Preview: Arsenal vs. Aston Villa

Arsenal head into Sunday's Premier League encounter with Aston Villa looking to build on last weekend's hard-earned victory at Manchester United.

Villa make the trip to the Emirates Stadium sitting ahead of the Gunners on goal difference, despite suffering successive defeats to Leeds United and Southampton.

Match preview

While the Spaniard would have been disappointed with his side's composure in the final third, recording a 1-0 win courtesy of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's penalty was enough to remind critics that they can mount a title challenge this campaign.

Although they sit down in ninth position, having already faced last season's top three away from home should give the Gunners an extra edge later during 2020-21.

However, last week's work will be undone if maximum points are not recorded against Villa, and Aubameyang is under increasing pressure to contribute from open play.

At the other end of the pitch, Arsenal have now conceded just five goals from their last eight matches, a run which has included three clean sheets.

That record will be put to the test at the weekend by a Villa side who have scored 15 times during six matches in the top flight.

Almost half of those strikes came during the 7-2 thrashing of champions Liverpool, but Dean Smith's side have continued to score on a regular basis since the beginning of the campaign.

That said, three of their goals came after going 4-0 down to Southampton last weekend, a scoreline which left Villa having conceded seven goals during a 93-minute spell against the Saints and Leeds.

Despite three of Southampton's goals coming from long-range efforts, Smith will have mixed feelings regarding the character of his backline.

With two of their three Premier League clean sheets this season coming away from Villa Park, this is an opportunity to get back on track ahead of the international break.

Arsenal Premier League form: WLWLLW
Arsenal form (all competitions): LWLWWW

Aston Villa Premier League form: WWWWLL
Aston Villa form (all competitions): WLWWLL

Arteta could go with the same starting XI from the game against United, a move which would see David Luiz start among the replacements.

However, Nicolas Pepe is pushing for a recall ahead of Willian, who has failed to make an impact since the opening weekend of the season.

Mohamed Elneny is expected to retain his place in midfield after only being used as a substitute in the Europa League.

Villa boss Smith is likely to bring in Trezeguet as a replacement for Bertrand Traore, who went off injured against Southampton.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez will line up against his former club for the first time.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Bellerin, Thomas, Elneny, Saka; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn; Trezeguet, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins

Source: SportsMole





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