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Arsenal v. Aston Villa preview: bounce back

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No excuses for not taking the full points at home from a newly-promoted club.

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Eintracht Frankfurt v Arsenal FC: Group F - UEFA Europa League
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been the Gunners most valuable player so far this season.
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

What better way to pull your club out of an early season stumble than a home match against a newly-promoted side struggling to find its Premier League footing? Arsenal come into Sunday’s match against Aston Villa winless in three league matches (0-2-1), including last weekend’s dismal second half against Watford. Thursday night’s 3-0 Europa League win at Frankfurt should give the Gunners some momentum, but honestly, Arsenal shouldn’t need it.

Aston Villa have scored four goals in five matches, second worst in the league. Arsenal have won the last five matches against Villa, scoring 18 and conceding zero. On paper, the Gunners should cruise to a win.

But Villa have kept two clean sheets in their last three matches and will almost certainly park the bus at the Emirates. There is a chance tomorrow’s match plays out in an all-too-familiar fashion — Arsenal dominating the game and being unable to find the back of the net. Jack Grealish has the quality to create a good chance, Arsenal’s defense has conceded some comically poor goals, and since the start of last season, the Gunners are tied first for goals against on penalties. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for Aston Villa to steal a result at the Emirates.

Wide attacker Mahmoud Trezeguet is set to return for Villa after serving his one-game red card suspension. Left back Matt Targett faces a late fitness test to determine his availability. Jonathan Kodjia and James Chester are both out. For more on the visitors, check out our in-depth Q&A with 7500 to Holte.

For Arsenal, Héctor Bellerín and Kieran Tierney played 60 minutes for the U23’s on Friday, and Dinos Mavropanos played the entire match. None of the three will be available Sunday, but should all be up for first team selection in the Carabao Cup next Thursday. Rob Holding traveled at the midweek but did not make the match day squad. He was not listed at all on the team news update, which presumably means he is available for selection. Alexandre Lacazette remains out until October.

With Lacazette out of the lineup for the next few weeks, all eyes are on record signing Nicolas Pépé. The young Ivorian has shown flashes of brilliance and leads the Premier League in successful dribbles (19), but he hasn’t been able to put it all together into a dominant attacking performance. I’m happy to chalk that up to learning the Premier League and settling in at a new club, but it’s also time to start expecting more from the young star.

WHAT: Arsenal vs. Aston Villa

WHERE: The Emirates

WHEN: Sunday, September 22nd 8:30 AM PT | 11:30 AM ET | 4:30 PM BST

US TV: Not broadcast. Streaming on NBC Sports Gold ($$$).

For all your international streaming needs, check livesoccer.tv. As always, please do not discuss links to illegal streams here.

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