Aston Villa v Arsenal: How the Gunners Should line up

Written by Edward Pitt

February 5, 2021

Arsenal were robbed of 3 points last time out, making this game even more important. There is no room for dropped points in this one if we are to have any realistic chance of getting top 4. Fortunately, despite dropping points recently, the performances have still been really good. We are a very different side to the one that was comfortably beat by Villa in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. That being said, Villa are a top team this season and we will need to be at our very best to beat them. Here is how we should play…

Ryan: Leno’s moment of madness leaves us in a really tricky situation. Our new signing Ryan is apparently struggling with a hip injury though may well be available. The alternative would be Runarsson who has had shaky moments in an Arsenal shirt so far. That being said, I will get behind whoever is picked. Runarsson deserves a second chance even if we are forced into giving it to him through suspension and injuries. 

Bellerin: With Tierney still out and Cedric likely to be filling in on the left, I’m pretty sure it will be Bellerin at right back for this one. He has been playing well of late and we will need another solid performance up against Grealish on the left hand side. I can forgive if he doesn’t get forward so much in this one, as long as he can keep Grealish under control

Holding: He has been one of our most dependable players this season and will almost definitely be playing

Gabriel: Somehow Luiz’s red card was upheld. Without getting too much into that fiasco, Gabriel would get the nod for me. He hasn’t looked quite as sharp since returning from COVID-19, but I’m sure he is just in need of building up fitness and getting into the swing of things. Earlier in the season he was our best player

Cedric: He has been playing really well recently. Especially considering he is not in his strongest position. I’m looking forward to him continuing his link up with Pepe down the left

Partey: The reason why things fell apart against Villa last time was because this guy went off injured. He just brings confidence and control to our midfield. He has a great eye for a pass and can dribble through the midfield really well. Perfect for turning defence into attack

Xhaka: Another player who has been working their way back into my good books of late. At some point I want to see a Ceballos/Partey combo, but not for this game. If we are to have any hope, we need to win those battles against McGinn and Luiz. For that we need a physical combo like Xhaka and Partey

Saka: On another day he would have had 2 goals in the first 3 minutes against Wolves. He was pivotal to our fantastic opening aggression and attacking play against Wolves. Especially considering how much Villa like to attack, this guy might be crucial for us on our counter attacks

Smith Rowe: I know at some point we need to see Odegaard play, but for me that’s not against Villa. It would be harsh to bring the new-boy into a game like this. Smith Rowe will help us maneuver around McGinn and Luiz because of how quickly he plays. Villa’s midfield are successful when the opposition is too ponderous on the ball; they aren’t afraid to leave their post to press. Smith Rowe will be able to pass it around them and then move, hopefully causing them some real problems

Pepe: Auba is reportedly back, but I don’t think you can drop Pepe with the form he is on. Everyone moans about him being too inconsistent; well he is never going to gain any consistency by being dropped as soon as he hits some form

Lacazette: The one mistake Arteta made against Wolves was to sub this guy off. We suddenly lost any ability to sustain attacks and hold the ball up, which is so crucial in earning yourselves a rest when you are down a man

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