Arsenal managed to snatch a draw vs Crystal Palace in their last Premier League game but the two dropped points mean the Gunners have once again slid to the bottom half of the table.
Next up, they take on Aston Villa and in this match, we are expecting to see a proper response from the North London side. Also, they have no other choice but to pick up all three points since Villa are just one point behind them in the table so if they lose then they will slide further down the table.
Arsenal were picking up their performances in recent weeks but on Monday Crystal Palace outplayed them in almost every department. And this is going to be a major cause of concern for Mikel Arteta.
The manager is expected to make a few changes to his starting line up on Friday but this will only be because he’s got some fresh injury concerns to deal with. The draw meant the Gunners are now undefeated in their last 5 matches in the Premier League and hopefully they can extend this run in the next matchweek.
Arsenal team news vs Aston Villa:
Ben White and Gabriel were at fault for the two goals which Arsenal conceded against Palace but Arteta will keep faith in this pair once again.
Kieran Tierney also looked lack-lustre on Monday but he too will reprise his role on the left-hand side while Tomiyasu is going to operate on the other side of defence.
Granit Xhaka remains on the sidelines with an injury and vs Palace, the manager opted to use 4-1-4-1 system so that he can avoid using two central midfielders. This plan though clearly did not work as Bukayo Saka picked up an injury in the first half, following which the manager had to bring in Lokonga.
Albert Lokonga did put in a decent enough shift in that match and he’s likely to start against Aston Villa since Bukayo Saka remains a doubt. Saka was on the receiving end of a bad tackle and Friday’s game is going to come too early for the England international.
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Arteta told Sky Sports, as quoted: ‘We had to take him off because he could not continue.
‘He was very sore in the area. When I look at the action I cannot understand how the player can continue to play.
‘We’ll see how it evolves. He could not continue and he’s a boy that is pretty tough and wants to keep playing, but he could not carry on. We have a quick turnaround after the next game so we will see how it evolves.’
If he is not available for selection then Arteta will surely revert back to a 4-2-3-1 system with Martin Odegaard back to playing in the No 10 role.
Nicolas Pepe got a rating of just 6.4 for his performance on Monday but since Bukayo Saka is likely to be absent, the manager has no other choice but to hand Pepe another start. Emile Smith Rowe is expected to start on the left wing.
Lacazette scored the late equaliser for Arsenal on Monday and he will be hoping that the manager now rewards him with a start. But Aubameyang’s best position is clearly down the middle so we have a feeling the Frenchman will once again have to be content with a place on the bench.
Arsenal predicted line up vs Aston Villa:
Predicted Starting Line up: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, Tierney, Ben White, Gabriel; Partey, Lokonga, Odegaard; Smith Rowe, Nicolas Pepe, Aubameyang/Lacazette.