Arsenal travel to Aston Villa for a date with former manager Unai Emery. The Gunners are in the midst of their worst run of form of the Premier League season, no wins from their last three matches (0-1-2), and have surrendered the top spot for the first time since Matchweek 2. Villa have dropped their last two matches as well, so both sides will be hungry to turn their fortunes around.
The Gunners prevailed 2-1 at the Emirates at the end of August on the strength of Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli goals. The Martinelli goal came three minutes after Douglas Luiz had equalized for the visiting Villains in the 74th minute. Of course, Steven Gerrard was still in charge of Aston Villa at that point, he wasn’t sacked until mid-October.
Everybody has a theory on what Arsenal need to do to break out of their dip in form. Mine is simple — play better. No, seriously. The defense and midfield are making basic errors and losing duels they weren’t losing earlier in the season. The attack is misplacing simple passes and not converting chances. The Gunners need to clean up their play, which they’ve shown themselves fully capable of doing, and they’ll be fine. Mikel Arteta might tweak the lineup in one or two spots, but there isn’t anything systemically wrong with his side.
Arsenal will be without Thomas Partey, who was a late scratch against Manchester City due to muscle tightness. Expect Jorginho, who deputized quite well in his full debut, to start in his place. Emile Smith Rowe seems to be back in training but likely isn’t ready for action. UPDATE: ESR makes the bench today. Gabriel Jesus, who has progressed in his rehab to light outside work with a ball, is still a few weeks away from return. Mohamed Elneny is out for the season.
Aston Villa will be missing Diego Carlos, Bertrand Traore, and Jed Steer. Tyrone Mings faces a late fitness test and is doubtful to be available. UPDATE: Mings passes fit, will start.
Arsenal - Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Jorginho, Xhaka, Ødegaard, Saka, Trossard, Nketiah
⚫️ ⚡️— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 18, 2023
White returns in defence
Jorginho x Xhaka in midfield
Trossard makes first league start
Let's do this - together! pic.twitter.com/2JU8yPY7ph
Aston Villa - Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Alex Moreno, McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Kamara, Coutinho, Buendia, Watkins
WHAT: Arsenal at Aston Villa
WHERE: Villa Park, Birmingham
WHEN: Saturday, February 18th, 4:30am PT | 7:30am ET | 12:30pm BT
HOW TO WATCH: Live on the USA Network and streaming on NBCSports.com
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