MX23RW : Tuesday, September 24 16:19:30| >> :600:285126:285126:
Sep 22, 2019 at 4.30pm UK at ​Emirates Stadium
Aston Villa
Pepe (59' pen.), Chambers (81'), Aubameyang (84')
Maitland-Niles (41')
FT(HT: 0-1)
McGinn (20'), Wesley (60')

Preview: Arsenal vs. Aston Villa - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League fixture between Arsenal and Aston Villa, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Arsenal got back to winning ways with a 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League last time out, and will be keen to right the wrongs of their dismal 2-2 draw with Watford in the Premier League as they host Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium.

Newly-promoted Villa also drew their last league game and may well feel disappointed at being unable to force a winner against 10-man West Ham United at home, with the game finishing goalless at Villa Park.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring his second during the Premier League game between Watford and Arsenal on September 15, 2019© Reuters

Arsenal's 3-0 win in Germany will have come as a much-needed morale boost for a side winless in their last three Premier League games.

Back-to-back 2-2 draws against Watford and Tottenham Hotspur followed a 3-1 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield to put a dampener on Arsenal's initially positive start to the campaign.

The dropped points against the Hornets drew particular ire from Arsenal fans. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck twice in the first half to take the Gunners into what seemed a comfortable lead, but a Sokratis Papastathopoulos error and a lazy David Luiz challenge that conceded a penalty allowed Watford to come from behind and earn a 2-2 draw.

In truth, the Gunners had been second-best for the majority of the contest and only the quality of Aubameyang and goalkeeper Bernd Leno prevented Arsenal from slipping to a shock defeat against the side bottom of the league, who registered a whopping 31 shots.

Unai Emery has come under fire from some quarters since that result, but his youngsters - and a change of system - have relieved some of the pressure mounting on him. The Spaniard has tried a narrow midfield diamond twice this season - against Watford and Liverpool - and on both occasions, it led to a disjointed, passive performance.

Against Eintracht Frankfurt, however, Emery employed wide players either side of Aubameyang and his young charges did not let him down, with Bukayo Saka in particular impressing, grabbing two assists and a sublime first senior goal.

Fans will hope the Spaniard ditches the diamond for the visit of Villa and restores club-record signing Nicolas Pepe to his preferred right-wing position, as well as handing an academy starlet the chance to shine in the Premier League on the left flank.

The loss of Alexandre Lacazette to injury has seen Pepe utilised alongside Aubameyang as a central striker at times, but the Ivorian spent the entirety of last season on the right with Lille and it is clearly his preferred role.

The Gunners sit seventh in the table but are level on points with Spurs in third and are only separated by goal difference. Reigning champions Manchester City are only two points further ahead in second after their surprise defeat to newly-promoted Norwich City, meaning the Gunners have every chance of propelling themselves into the top four with a win on Sunday.

Recent Premier League form: WWLDD
Recent form (all competitions): WWLDDW

Aston Villa

Jack Grealish in action for Aston Villa on September 16, 2019© Reuters

Dean Smith will still be ruing his side's failure to pick up what could have been a crucial three points against West Ham last weekend.

Villa have won just once on their return to the Premier League, a 2-0 home win against Everton, and are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference, sitting 17th but level on points with 18th-placed Newcastle United, while winless pair Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford occupy the bottom two places.

Despite investing significantly on new players in the transfer market this summer, bringing in a whopping 13 new faces, Villa have struggled in front of goal so far this campaign, netting just four goals in five games and drawing a blank in both of their last two outings.

Smith claimed that he was not worried by the lack of end product so far, however, insisting that his side are improving in terms of creating chances and work-rate.

Worryingly, however, their record of one win, one draw and three losses is identical to their record at the same stage of the 2015-16 season, when they finished bottom of the league and were relegated.

Given their sizeable outlay on new recruits, an immediate return to the Championship is not something Villa can afford, and Smith will be targeting the three league games after their trip to the Emirates as a period in which they can pick up points.

Home games against Burnley and Brighton & Hove Albion and a trip to Carrow Road to face Norwich City appear, on paper at least, to be winnable fixtures.

Arsenal are strong at home, however, and will expect to pick up three points despite their defensive frailties and Emery's seemingly failed experiment with a midfield diamond this season.

Recent Premier League form: LLWLD
Recent form (all competitions): LLWWLD

Team News

Mesut Ozil in action during the Premier League game between Watford and Arsenal on September 15, 2019© Reuters

Arsenal are still without star striker Alexandre Lacazette, who is not expected to return until next month after playing with an ankle injury during the first few games of the season.

Long-term absentees Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney will be eased back into the fray slowly, although Sead Kolasinac should be okay to feature despite having to be replaced in the final 10 minutes of the Gunners' win in Frankfurt.

Sokratis and Mesut Ozil were rested for the trip to Germany, suggesting that both are likely to feature from the start against Villa, while a number of other players who did not start in the Europa League such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Pepe should reclaim their usual starting spots.

Villa could be boosted by the return of left-back Matt Targett, who joined from Southampton in the off-season, but are still without Jonathan Kodjia and James Chester until at least October.

Marvelous Nakamba had a mixed game against West Ham, impressing off the ball but struggling in possession, and could be replaced by Douglas Luiz at the base of midfield.

Additionally, Anwar El Ghazi's clash with Tyrone Mings could see him dropped in favour of returning wide-man Trezeguet in the left-wing berth.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Ozil; Pepe, Aubameyang

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Taylor; Luiz; Jota, McGinn, Grealish, Trezeguet; Wesley

Head To Head

Arsenal have won their last six competitive meetings with Villa in all competitions and have not conceded in any of their last five against them.

In the last 20 years, Arsenal have only lost three games against Villa from 37 meetings in all competitions, winning 20 of those games.

However, only Manchester United and Chelsea have won more games against the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium, with Villa claiming victories in 2008, 2011 and 2013.

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We say: Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa

Arsenal's strong record against Villa, coupled with the red-hot form of star striker Aubameyang, who has six goals in six games this season, makes them clear favourites to beat the newly-promoted side at home. With their defensive issues, you wouldn't bet against them conceding a goal, however.

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Who will win Sunday's Premier League clash between Arsenal and Aston Villa?

Aston Villa
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring his second during the Premier League game between Watford and Arsenal on September 15, 2019
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