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Arsenal vs. Aston Villa: Predicted Lineup & Bench

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It’s back to the league, as the Gunners are nearly out of time to reach Europe (this way).

Arsenal FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Yes, it really did happen. Arsenal beat Liverpool and Manchester City in the same week. The Gunners are into the FA Cup Final. It was a magically week, that saw the defense put on displays we thought weren’t possible any more this season. While the attack saw contributions from Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe, and even Reiss Nelson. Oh what might have been without Nketiah’s red card and the missed chances against Tottenham.

However, Arsenal now have to refocus and put the Cup Final out of their mind, because there are two important Premier League matches left to play. The Gunners are in 10th place (and can’t fall any further mathematically) and still have a shot (albeit a long one) to reach the Europa League positions and finish ahead of Tottenham. That’ll take two wins by Arsenal and a Spurs loss to Crystal Palace, but before we get that far, three points are needed against Aston Villa.

Option 1 - Heavy Rotation

  • With Manchester City being let back into the UEFA Champions League, 6th place is the final Europa League spot, which is five points away for Arsenal at the moment. There is the scenario where Chelsea wins the Cup and 7th place team in the league gets a EL spot, but again Arsenal have plenty of work to get there. Thus the thinking is that Arsenal’s best chance of reaching Europe is by winning the Cup. In addition, winning the Cup would be an excellent end to a difficult year for the club, so Mikel Arteta might set the lineup with Chelsea is mind.
  • In this scenario, it’s nearly a fully rotated squad to rest some of the key players after the Manchester City win and get some starts for some of the 1B players. Back to a traditional 4-2-3-1 with Saka sitting in as the 10, and shifting Reiss Nelson over to the left side of the attack. However, with that front four I’d expect Arteta to ask them to rotate around quite a bit throughout the match.
  • The match offers a great chance for starts (and potentially 90 minutes) for Rob Holding, Sokratis, Cedric, and Torreira. Eddie Nketiah returns from his red card suspension and needs a solid start in case he is needed in the Cup Final.

Bench

  1. Matt Macey
  2. Héctor Bellerín
  3. David Luiz
  4. Kieran Tierney
  5. Ainsley Maitland-Niles
  6. Dani Ceballos
  7. Granit Xhaka
  8. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  9. Alexandre Lacazette

Option 2 - Momentum is Key

  • There isn’t a lot of difference here truthfully, but enough that I thought it warranted the discussion. Mostly the same starters, but this keeps the familiar back three we’ve seen find success over the last few weeks. Kolasinac and Soares don’t offer the same attacking threat that Tierney, Bellerin or Maitland-Niles offer as wing backs, but will at times they will make it look like Arsenal have a 3-4-3 formation in attach.
  • Saka clearly needs to start on Tuesday after missing out on Saturday against City, but in this iteration I have him back in his preferred left winger position and dropping the 10 role.
  • Removing Nelson from the starting XI, David Luiz sits in the middle of the back three and focuses on Arsenal continuing to practice the fundamentals from this recent stretch. If you missed it check out Luiz’ post-match comments in the video below. Regardless of the opponent or amount of possession they have, Arteta will want the defense confident heading into that Cup Final in two weeks.
  • Of course both of these leave Mesut Ozil and Mattéo Guendouzi out of the lineup and bench completely. All signs point to the fact that Guendouzi is likely done in an Arsenal jersey. While there is always the chance, if he is fully fit, that Ozil returns for the Watford match, as it is at home, and/or a place on the bench against Chelsea.

Bench

  1. Matt Macey
  2. Héctor Bellerín
  3. Reiss Nelson
  4. Kieran Tierney
  5. Ainsley Maitland-Niles
  6. Dani Ceballos
  7. Granit Xhaka
  8. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  9. Alexandre Lacazette

How to watch

Tuesday (7/21) at 3:15 pm ET / 12:15 pm PT on NBC Sports.