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Arsenal at Aston Villa match thread: taking care of business

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The Gunners still have a shot at the Europa League, but they need to win today.

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

In yesterday’s Arsenal-Aston Villa preview, I did some table-gazing at both the top and the bottom of the Premier League table. I’d guess that for the majority of you, the Europa League place speculation was much more interesting. But here’s the thing, for any of that to be relevant, Arsenal need to beat Aston Villa today (and Watford on Sunday). And those are not givens.

Aston Villa is fighting for their Premier League life. They are behind the 8-ball to be sure, but stranger things have happened. Arsenal are going to see the best Aston Villa have to offer, and we know that the Gunners have struggled to find consistency this season. Today’s and Sunday’s match will be, in a way, a better barometer of where Arsenal are. Their undoing this season has been as much or more an inability to beat the sides they “should” beat as it has been performing against the top sides. Just look at Arsenal’s results, they’ve dropped so many points to bottom half teams it’s embarrassing.

Arsenal will be without the services of Shkodran Mustafi, who picked up a hamstring injury against Manchester City that is still being evaluated to determine the severity. Eddie Nketiah is back available after serving his red card suspension, and I expect him to start. Cedric Soares, who missed out against City because he was cup-tied, should start tomorrow as well. Mesut Özil has recovered from his back ailment and is available for selection, but I doubt he makes the matchday squad. Matteo Guendouzi is still in disciplinary exile. The long-term injuries are unchanged.

Aston Villa will be without long-term absentees Wesley, Thomas Heaton, and Bjorn Engels. Neil Taylor will miss out with a hamstring injury. Preferred right-back Kortney Hause has been deemed fit and is available for selection.

When these two sides met at the Emirates earlier this season, Arsenal prevailed 3-2, tallying two goals after the 80-minute mark after Ainsley Maitland-Niles was sent off in the first half. It would be nice if today’s match was a bit more normal.

Arsenal - Martinez, Soares, Luiz, Holding, Kolasinac, Saka, Torreira, Ceballos, Nketiah, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Aston Villa - Reina, Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett, McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Hourihane, Trezeguet, Samatta, Grealish

WHAT: Arsenal at Aston Villa
WHERE: Villa Park
WHEN: 12:15 PM PT | 3:15 PM ET | 8:15 PM BT
US TV: NBCSN.

Also streaming on Peacock and NBC Sports Gold. Here’s a bit more about NBC’s new platform as it affects Premier League broadcasts for next season. Additionally, if you sign up for a Peacock account from an Android device, you get three months of the with-ads service for free.

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