Coming off of four straight frustrating results, Arsenal must let go of the past in order to avoid a deeper slide. Forget the VAR apology. Forget the mistakes and missed opportunities against Manchester City. Focus on Aston Villa. The squad is easily capable of rattling off seven straight wins in the next month and a half. But it’s one match at a time, sticking to their plan, and not letting their heads drop. Up first is a trip to face an up-and-down Aston Villa.
After losing three straight matches against Aston Villa between July 2020 and February 2021, Arsenal has had the upper hand in the series. The Gunners won both matches last season, 3-1 at home and 1-0 away, plus a 2-1 win at the Emirates back at the start of this season. The goals came from Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli on that day. And while Jesus remains out with an injury, Saturday Martinelli could be dropped in favor of Leandro Trossard.
Q&A with the Opposition: Arsenal vs. Aston Villa: 5 Questions with 7500 to Holte
- Fabio Vieira
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Emile Smith Rowe
- Reiss Nelson
- Kieran Tierney
- Takehiro Tomiyasu
- Jakub Kiwior
- Rob Holding
- Matt Turner
- Left Out: Gabriel Jesus (injury), Thomas Partey (injury), & Mohamed Elneny (injury)
- Wednesday was a night to forget for Takehiro Tomiyasu. An unfortunate backpass and deflection made him the center of attention, but those were events that could have come against any opponent. But it’ll be back to the bench as Ben White returns to the starting lineup.
- Thomas Partey will be a late decision according to Mikel Arteta, but I imagine they will leave him out of the trip to Villa Park and focus on getting him back next weekend against Leicester City. Jorginho stepped in quite well for Partey considering his recent arrival and the talent of the opposition on Wednesday. He can deputize nicely once again against Villa. A wise decision by Arsenal to bring in the experience option over having to use Lokonga rather than send him out on loan.
- With White’s return and Jorginho partnering with Granit Xhaka, the attention turns to the left wing of the attack. Yet another match where Martinelli was unable to impact the game in the manner we saw in the first half of the year. Arsenal was unable to use his speed early in the match due to City sitting back and time wasting. Leandro Trossard might not be the magic key to unlock more goals on Saturday or to reignite Martinelli, but with Arsenal looking to rediscover their attacking form (and finishing), Trossard into the starting XI makes sense.
How to watch
Saturday (2/18) at 7:30 am ET / 4:30 am PT on the USA Network.
Arsenal - 2
Aston Villa - 0
Leandro Trossard gets the start, Arsenal rediscovers their magic and returns to the top of the Premier League (at least for a few hours).