It was all going a bit too smoothly for Arsenal this season. Three opening wins with nine goals scored. Then Mike Arteta’s side successfully dealt with their first deficit of the season to come back and beat Fulham 2-1. Without Thomas Partey and Oleksandr Zinchenko. Now as we enter the first congested week on the calendar Arsenal’s midfield takes another blow with the loss of Mohamed Elneny. While this may kick into action the signing of a new midfielder it won’t be in time for Wednesday.
This match will mark the 200th meeting between Arsenal and Aston Villa. Last season the Gunners won both games against Villa, first 3-1 at home and then 1-0 on the road. However, prior to last year, Villa had won three straight against the Gunners by a combined score of 5-to-0. With the opposition struggling for points so far this season they will be desperate to come away with at least a point, despite suffering their own injury woes.
- Gabriel Jesus
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Fabio Vieira
- Ben White
- Rob Holding
- Cedric Soares
- Oleksandr Zinchenko
- Matt Turner
- Left Out: Reiss Nelson (injury), Thomas Partey (injury), Mohamed Elneny (injury), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (expected departure) & Hector Bellerin (expected departure)
- Given the number of forced rotations and how pivotal that midfield role is I’ve opted to leave a number of season starters in the lineup for kick-off: Odegaard, Saka, Xhaka, Ramsdale, Gabriel & Saliba. The core of the spine remains while the other players cycle in.
- Tierney started the last match and made it 61 minutes. If Zinchenko still isn’t fit to start, I imagine Kieran remains in the lineup, Arteta sees if he can last a bit longer, and then bring Zinchenko late on or use Ben White to shuffle around the backline.
- Takehiro Tomiyasu appears ready to start once again, so his reintroduction into the starting XI can (a) allow Ben White to be rested at the start & (b) saves Ben White in case Arteta decides he is needed at LB, CM, or RB later on in the match.
- Smith Rowe in for Martinelli is an easy switch, while this seems like the best opportunity to allow Eddie Nketiah his first start of the season. 60-70 minutes for him, bringing on Jesus, who will start at the weekend, allows the best of both worlds on Wednesday.
- The big adjustment will of course be in the midfield. How serious is Thomas Partey’s injury? Then there is the news that Elneny has a significant injury as well. That leaves a lot of pressure on Granit Xhaka for these two upcoming matches. But it’s time for Albert Sambi Lokonga to have his chance to show how much he’s improved since last season. Now with a full season and summer with the club, can he maintain the level we’ve seen so far this season from Partey and Elneny?
How to watch
Wednesday (8/31) at 2:30 pm ET / 11:30 am PT on Peacock Premium.
Arsenal - 2
Aston Villa - 1
Between the injuries, Mikel Arteta rotating the squad, and Aston Villa’s need to recover points this will be a big test for Arsenal’s resolve to remain top of the Premier League.