Arsenal host Aston Villa today at the Emirates as both clubs look to keep pace with the top of the table. The Gunners and the Villains are tied on 12 points, although Villa have played one fewer game. Although all matches count the same, the send-off match before an international break always feels a bit more important. I don’t think any team wants to head into two-and-a-half weeks off from the Premier League on a poor result.
Aston Villa started the season unbeaten, but have lost their last two matches. Arsenal have been up and down, although there’s room to hope that the addition of Thomas Partey and his integration into the side will keep things headed in the right direction.
Of course, one of the main storylines for today’s match will be Emi Martinez against his old club. Arsenal sold the goalkeeper to Aston Villa a few months ago when it became clear that Mikel Arteta was not going to give him the #1 spot that he wanted. The sale has worked out well for both clubs so far. The Gunners used the proceeds to help fund the acquisitions of Gabriel and Thomas Partey, and Martinez has been solid for Villa. He has, however, surrendered the most goals in the Premier League on shots from outside the area.
Regardless, Villa have been stingy so far this season, conceding only 9 goals. We know that Arsenal struggle at times to generate offense. That has the potential to be an unfortunate pairing. Villa have scored a gaudy 15 goals in 6 matches, but 7 of those came against Liverpool in that “what the heck just happened” match a few months ago.
I’m looking forward to the Thomas Partey - Jack Grealish battle for control of the midfield. Grealish is off to a hot start this season with 4 goals, tied for the team lead with summer signing Ollie Watkins. Partey bossed Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes last week and will have his hands full again this week. Grealish gets forward well, which unbalances opposing defenses. He also wins a lot of fouls, for what that’s worth.
The Gunners will be without Reiss Nelson, whose minor knee issue will keep him out until after the international break. The long-term injuries are unchanged. Aston Villa will be without forwards Bertrand Traore and Wesley Moraes.
Arsenal - Leno, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Bellerin, Partey, Elneny, Saka, Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang
The team news is in...— Arsenal (@Arsenal) November 8, 2020
And we're unchanged from Old Trafford #ARSAVL
Aston Villa - Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Trezeguet, Barkley, Grealish, Watkins
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Aston Villa
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: Sunday, November 8th 11:15 AT PT | 2:15 PM ET | 7:15 PM BT
US TV: Peacock.
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