Aston Villa vs Arsenal – Pre-game Assessment

Let’s be frank.  I did call our Villans to beat West Ham 3-1 in London last weekend.  Madness?  Hardly.  In fact, we won the game stats!  Those included shots, shots on target, possession, pass accuracy, and even corners.  Of course, that and a dime will not buy you a cup of coffee.  What it does suggest is that the first goal in a game with only two days rest was always going to be critical, and we came close.  When Watkins’ shot was blocked by Soucek, Coutinho’s clever back flick rolled wide of the post, and Ings effort saved off the post by Fabianski, it was apparent that it was not going to be our day.

What does that tell us about our chances against Arsenal tomorrow?  For one, the home crowd is an advantage.  Not facing a Ukrainian striker will also help.  That Arsenal will be the team with only one day of rest after a grueling loss to Liverpool on Wednesday, should help us considerably.

Despite that loss to the Reds, the Gunners’ recent form has been impressive with much credit going to their new goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale who has benefited from solid defense in front of him.  Villa, again, will be pressured to score that first goal if they want to avoid a tough fight to the finish.

Our loss of Lucas Digne was significant and put a lot of additional pressure on Ashley Young to limit his support to our offense against the Hammers.  Ramsey could be a big factor in his defensive role, doubling up with Young on Saka.

Gerrard, meanwhile, will be tempted to give Ings a day off and, maybe, give Buendia a start.  That comes with risk, given our young Argentinian being prone to lose possession when driving forward, exposing us to the counterattack.

I am glad that Gerrard has to make that decision.  Of course, Sanson might be another option, assuming he is match fit.  Bailey is too much of a defensive liability to start.

On the basis that we did the double over the Gunners last year, I like our chances.  Prediction: Another shutout:  AVFC 2, Arsenal 0.


Likely Starting xi:

Aston Villa (4, 3, 3): Martinez, Cash, Chambers, Mings, Young, McGinn, Sanson, Ramsey, Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho

Arsenal (4, 2, 3, 1): Ramsdale, Cedric, Gabriel, Webster, Tierney, Partey, Odegaard, Xhaka, Saka, Lacazette, Martinelli

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