Arsenal kick off the latest round of Premier League action at home to Aston Villa in Friday Night Football at Emirates Stadium.
Victory will lift Arsenal up to ninth until Saturday afternoon, whereas Villa can leapfrog the Gunners with a win and climb up to ninth themselves.
Bukayo Saka is a doubt for Arsenal after suffering a kick to his calf in Monday’s comeback 2-2 draw at home to Crystal Palace.
Granit Xhaka remains ruled out with a knee injury.
Villa will have Matty Cash available after he recovered from a dead leg suffered in last weekend’s loss to Wolves.
Leon Bailey (muscle), Bertrand Traore (thigh) and Keinan Davis (knee) are also set to be in contention but Trezeguet (knee) and Carney Chukwuemeka (muscle) are ruled out.
- Arsenal are winless in three of their last five meetings against Aston Villa (W2, L3), with all three losses coming in their last three meetings without scoring.
- Aston Villa have won two of their last five visits to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium (W2, L3), netting three goals in both of their last two away wins in this fixture.
- Villa’s Ollie Watkins netted three goals in total across both league meetings against Arsenal last season (W2).
- Arsenal have scored first in each of their last three league matches.
- Danny Ings is yet to score a league goal on his left foot for Villa this season.
Despite enjoying a bright start on Monday against Crystal Palace, Arsenal were extremely lucky to snatch a draw because their defensive issues remain a major vulnerability in their play, which cannot be repeated here given that Villa seem to have found their attacking groove.
Dean Smith’s Villains though will definitely be eager to produce a reaction to last weekend’s horrifically late defensive collapse at home to Wolves, complete with little focus and man marking on top of wasted chances throughout the matches so I expect them to come here full of intent.
On that note, this match should be an interesting contest given the defensive vulnerabilities of both teams but if Villa can tighten up and deliver clinical attacks, I fancy them to get a fourth straight win in this fixture.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa