A lack lustre performance last time out against West Ham will hopefully be the catalyst for a reaction from Villa at the hands of Arsenal this Saturday lunch time. Villa were set back by 3 goals to 1 in a game where they were out-fought, out-classed and were tactically out-done by an impressively organised West Ham.

Villa have the chance to make amends and bounce back against an under-achieving Arsenal side who will also be looking to put things right themselves after losing a game against Wolves in which they looked on top and fairly comfortable before David Luiz conceded a penalty which saw him sent for an early bath right on half time. Villa sit 9th in the table on 32 points after 20 games, 4 points off the top six, 8 points off the top four with two games in hand and 1 point and one place ahead of today’s visitors with two games in hand over The Gunners. A win could see Villa climb up to 7th, depending on results elsewhere.

However, a win will only come if there’s a much improved performance to the one we saw Wednesday night and you could possibly argue, a better performance we saw in the narrow win against Southampton and most definitely a better performance than the second half in the loss against Burnley. So what’s gone wrong since that energised, fluid and dominant first half at Turf Moor less than a fortnight ago?

For me there’s a few factors, obviously the covid outbreak did not help us whatsoever, the fact the effected players would have had to recover from a virus that heavily effects your muscles and causes tiredness as well not being able to have a full training session or properly prepare for upcoming matches.

Then having to face an in form Man City side which is always a game where the work rate and pressing intensity has to be upped as you spend longer periods of the game without the ball. Secondly, which is factor but also a solution to the first factor is squad rotation. Now we know Dean Smith has his favoured XI bar one position and there’s some positives in having a nailed down starting XI but with the arrival of Morgan Sanson, the return from injury of Trezeguet, Anwar El Ghazi’s and Bertrand Traore’s goal scoring form and an impressive performance against Newcastle from Marvelous Nakamba there’s not the excuse there once was for us not having the strength in depth to rotate. Especially when it was quite evident to see Ross Barkley and John McGinn struggling in the latter stages of Wednesday Night’s game.

For me personally and many Villa fans, on Saturday, we have to see a rotated side if we want to see a more energised and creative Villa display.

Predicted Aston Villa Xl

As well as David Luiz, Arsenal will be without first choice goalkeeper Bernt Leno who was dismissed for handling outside the area in their loss to Wolves. A big boost for Villa, Icelandic international Alex Runarsson will make his full debut for The Gunners. The 25 year old came under criticism from fans after palming Mahrez’s effort into his own goal against Man City in the Carabao Cup.

Although Arsenal will find some positives from their first half performance on Tuesday night, especially in the form of Buyako Saka who looked lively and troubled the Wolves back line on numerous occasions throughout the first 45 minutes. Pepe also caused problems playing off of the right hand side and curled a superb effort into the far corner for the opener.

Arsenal’s form has been up and down in recent weeks so they arrive into this game with an unpredictability. If the reverse fixture is anything to go by, Villa shall be optimistic of a victory. It was a comfortable 3-0 win at The Emirates for The Villans when these two sides met back in November. However, Arsenal have introduced some young blood with the likes of Emile Smith-Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli who have seemed to have sprung a once down and depleted Arsenal team into some sort of life.

Predicted Arsenal Xl

With that all said, an exciting affair awaits between two teams who boast a handful of dangerous players in the final third, I expect a much more even game than the reverse fixture but I expect there to be a few goals, hopefully Villa can get back to winning ways and cement the double over Arsenal for the first time since the birth of the Premier League in the 1992/1993 season where Villa came out 1-0 winners in both games.


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