Aston Villa vs Arsenal – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Saturday 18th February 2023
As part of our weekend Premier League predictions, we analyse Arsenal’s trip to Villa Park. With just eight points in six matches, can Arsenal recover to avoid a potentially costly run of form? Read on with our Aston Villa vs Arsenal prediction.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal Match Preview
Aston Villa enter this game in what appears to be a mini-crisis. They were purring along nicely under new coach Unai Emery and had won three games in four. However, consecutive defeats at home to Leicester and away at Man City have been far from ideal. The Leicester result was not that surprising; the Foxes have been struggling for points and results this season, but their underlying play has been good. Still, a 4-2 battering after taking the lead twice was poor.
The game at the Etihad was a procession, with City being a goal up within four minutes and 3-0 up by half-time. Other than the Leicester debacle, there has been a victory over Leeds, a draw with Wolves, and a defeat to Liverpool in the last four at Villa Park. Therefore, Villa’s form is inconsistent.
Arsenal come into this game in dubious form. Despite a brilliant first half of the season, where the Gunners accumulated 50 points from 19 games, recent form has been shaky. They sit in 11th place in the form table over the last six games, only attaining eight points from 18. Home form has been especially poor in the previous two, with a draw against Brentford followed by a 3-1 defeat to title rivals Man City on Wednesday night.
The London club had won four games on the spin on their travels, including three clean sheets. However, the defeat at Everton to a Tarkowski header two weeks ago has derailed their momentum on the road. Arsenal are out of both domestic cups, but their Europa League campaign will resume in a matter of weeks, which should test their thin-looking squad. Still, they are well in the hunt for their first title since 2004; despite losing their advantage, they still have an equal number of points as City, as well as a game in hand.
Villa will look to give a good account of themselves against a team contesting for the title. Villa’s games have been high-scoring, and both teams have scored in Villa’s last five games, so there might be goals here.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: Mings, Traore
Will Not Play: Steer, Carlos
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Elneny, Partey, Smith-Rowe, Jesus
Aston Villa vs Arsenal Lineups (Predicted)
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Martinez; Digne, Mings, Konsa, Young; Luiz, Kamara, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins, Bailey
Arsenal (4-3-3/4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Zinchenko, Gabriel, Saliba, White; Xhaka, Jorginho, Odegaard; Martinelli, Nketiah, Saka
Aston Villa vs Arsenal Analysis
Arsenal’s Recent Woes
As stated above, Arsenal’s recent form could have been better. As a young, inexperienced side and a club which has wilted under pressure several times in title races, people are casting aspersions on the Gunners’ title credentials. We can understand this scepticism – the strain of being in a title race with a juggernaut such as City has taken its toll on many teams in the past, primarily Liverpool. However, City don’t seem quite as relentless this season. Despite their win at the Emirates in midweek, they were far from convincing.
Therefore, we believe that Arsenal can still win the title for the first time in nineteen years. However, they must stop dropping silly points like the five against Everton and Brentford. City will be encouraged if they continue to falter and surely will smell blood. Arsenal can get back on track with a win at Villa Park. Arsenal have won their last three Premier League games against Villa, which bodes well for them. They will hope to make it four in a row, but they must be wary of a Villa side which has lost the last two and will be desperate to find their groove again.
Possession in Midfield
Arsenal have the superior players on paper, and while they are a threat on transitions, they tend to be a team which gets the ball down and passes it around. They sit in fifth place in the league’s possession table, averaging 58 per cent. Villa are down in 12th with 48 per cent on average. Therefore, as Arsenal have the more technically gifted players who are better in tight spaces, and given their need to win, we see this being a match where they dominate the ball and try to find ways to create chances.
Arsenal have completed over 10,000 passes this season, compared to just over 8,000 for Villa, both in 22 games. Hence, Arsenal are better on the ball and will try to play their short passes in midfield. Partey’s injury is a blow, but Jorginho is an intelligent replacement with good positioning and the ability to get on the ball and run the game. Luiz and Kamara must press Jorginho, Xhaka, and Odegaard when they have the ball, not allowing them to get into a rhythm where they can find Arsenal’s attacking trio.
Arsenal will likely build from the back, and Zinchenko playing as an inverted full-back offers them some control. The Villa defensive midfielders must not give Arsenal time on the ball, and Ramsey could be crucial here if he starts; the young Englishman has the energy, tenacity and technique to upset Arsenal and create opportunities on the break for Villa.
Arsenal’s ability to control the ball allows them to bring their forwards into the game. Martinelli and Saka on the flanks are tricky players with great feet, dribbling, and excellent at finding gaps in tight spaces. They must get on the ball and find little pockets to come inside and attack Digne and Young. Odegaard will also be critical as he can get the ball on the half-turn between the Villa defensive and midfield lines and look to thread little through balls down the sides of the centre-backs that Nketiah can chase. Odegaard will also supply the wingers often.
We want to return to Zinchenko. While he is a threat in attack, it is interesting that theanalyst.com shows that the left-back area is a position where Arsenal only have 41 per cent of touches compared to the opposition this season. This ‘zone of control’ highlights that Zinchenko often vacates this position. When players drop into it, they are attacked by opposition wingers. Kamara, Luiz and Ramsey must press the Arsenal midfield and try to get the ball out wide right to Bailey. Arsenal seem more vulnerable in the left-back position if they lose the ball in midfield.
Winning the ball in these areas could allow Villa to release their forwards on transitions and attack the spaces left by the Arsenal full-backs. Buendia, Watkins, and Bailey are all talented dribblers and very quick, and Buendia is a quality playmaker. We see Villa getting much joy if they can win the ball in defensive or midfield areas and pounce to attack an out-of-shape Arsenal backline. For all his possession play, Jorginho is slow and can undoubtedly be bypassed at speed. Indeed, the Gunners must be wary of the counter here. Set pieces could also prove vital, given Digne’s excellent delivery.
This game is a challenging one to predict. On the one hand, Arsenal have better players, and if they play to their potential, we imagine they would win by one or maybe two goals. However, there are other variables at play. First, Emery will be determined to get back on track after back-to-back defeats. Second, Villa Park can be a genuine cauldron when the crowd gets going. If Villa’s players start well, Arsenal could wilt under the pressure as they did at Goodison two weeks ago.
We don’t like to be seen as turning on Arsenal, as they play good football and have done exceptionally well to be in the position they are. However, the club has had an issue with title run-ins in the recent years they have been involved in them, and eight points from 18 is mediocre for a title contender. Arsenal could win this game, and we are tempted to go for a narrow 2-1 victory for the Londoners. However, Villa’s pacey, transitional style matches up well against Arsenal’s generally more patient game (though it isn’t that black-and-white). We will take a risk and go for a draw; we think Arsenal will slip up again and make it four games without a victory.
Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal
Aston Villa vs Arsenal Betting Tip – Draw Odds:
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