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Arsenal vs. Aston Villa: 5 Questions with 7500 to Holte

The season’s first midweek Premier League action.

Aston Villa v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Watching Arsenal play well in the first half against Fulham but fail to score, was a familiar feeling from the past few seasons. However, beyond the obvious three points and continuation of their perfect start, Saturday’s result was an important step for this squad. Far too often in recent years, Arsenal have failed to beat teams in the bottom half of the table, costing themselves crucial points that eventually remove them from contention for the top four. The comeback win over Fulham saw the belief, drive, and talent that make this team appear to be the next step in Mikel Arteta’s evolution of the Gunners.

Up next is another home game in which they will be favored to pick up all three points. Aston Villa comes to the Emirates having lost three of their opening four matches and are quickly suffering some critical injuries. With Arsenal looking to rotate ahead of the first three match week this season, how might Wednesday’s fixture play out?

To get some details on the opposition we chatted with Sebastian Bacon from SB Nation’s site on Aston Villa, 7500 to Holte.

TSF: During the summer transfer window the club officially signed Philippe Coutinho after being on loan at Aston Villa last season (not unlike Martin Odegaard’s path to Arsenal), a couple of notable sales (Targett & Chukwuemeka) & the £26 million purchase of Diego Carlos from Sevilla. How would you rate Villa’s summer activity? Which gaps remain? And how crucial is that injury to Diego Carlos?

7500 to Holte: It’s been a difficult window for Villa so far, rewind to when the window had only been open about a week or so and Villa had already signed Coutinho permanently, as well as signing defensive rock Diego Carlos and France International and exciting midfielder Boubacar Kamara. It all seemed on the up. Fast forward to the end of the window and we have sustained a season-ending injury to Diego Carlos and brought in back up left back Ludwig Augstinsson. Which leaves us almost level with what we had last season plus Boubacar Kamara who admittedly has probably been our most promising player so far this season. With two days left of the window, Steven Gerrard has claimed he wants ‘one or two more’ completed before the deadline with rumors being these could be a midfielder and a centre back, or even two centre backs. But mainly Villa fans won’t be completely satisfied until we start seeing these players produce the rewards on the pitch

TSF: Coming into the season what were your expectations from this Aston Villa squad, both in the league and Cup competitions?

7500 to Holte: This season I was advocating for Villa to kick on and produce a Cup run due to it probably being our best opportunity of breaking into that European dream that Gerrard has focused so strongly on since being appointed. However, with our abysmal start to the season, we don’t look anywhere near challenging for Europe on either front. Still a lot of work to do.

TSF: Steven Gerrard led Aston Villa to an 11th-place finish last season. Is he regarded by the supporters as a manager who can not only keep the club in the Premier League but re-establish them as a regular top-half side?

7500 to Holte: If you had asked us that question before pre-season you would have had a much different answer to now. I personally believe Gerrard has a lot of work to do to unify the squad and get them firing on all fronts. With reports of unrest and unhappiness within the club, Villa fans are left confused at the behind the scenes notions of the club at the moment. But it of course can still be turned around.

TSF: It’s been a difficult start to the season - 3 losses, 1 win, 3 goals scored & 7 conceded. Outside of the injury to Carlos & Tyronne Mings not being fully fit, what hasn’t worked during these early matches?

7500 to Holte: Our inconsistency, having 4 different centre back partnerships in 4 different league games is never going to help proceedings. What they do have is creativity in the final third. With players such as Ings, Watkins, Coutinho, Buendia, and Bailey we should have enough to be able to scare teams when in attacking transition. But for one reason or another, it doesn’t seem to be clicking at the moment.

TSF: And finally, give us your predicted starting lineup and what formation we should expect from Aston Villa.

7500 to Holte: Gerrard has chopped and changed so much it makes things difficult but I’ll give it my best shot.

4-1-2-1-2: Martinez | Cash-Konsa-Mings-Digne | Kamara | McGinn - Luiz | Buendia | Ings Watkins

2-0 Arsenal. I think Villa still have a way to go to solve their defensive frailties as well as refining their attacking edge.

Thanks to Sebastian & 7500 to Holte for their time ahead of this midweek match.