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Aston Villa vs Arsenal | Predictions, Stats and Key Players

Aston Villa vs. Arsenal – Villa Another Big Scalp?

Aston Villa welcome Arsenal to Villa Park this weekend, in a game that can be considered a six pointer in the title race. Unai Emery has overseen an incredible 12 months in charge in the Midlands and the midweek victory over Manchester City sent out a major statement to the rest of the league. It is now December and they remain in the top four. They can’t be underestimated. Arsenal’s away performances against some of the better teams have been under par this season. They will need to be at their best to win this weekend.

Emery’s Impact at Villa

The decision to appoint Emery was a fantastic one by Villa, as they are now competing at the business end of the league. It is even more impressive due to their European commitments. There are few better managers at dealing with the Thursday/Sunday grind than the Spaniard, who has an excellent record at managing this schedule. He is proving himself again at Villa Park. This weekend has the extra layer of narrative due to Emery’s past at Arsenal and he will want to land another significant blow to one of the title favourites.

Photo: IMAGO

Arsenal’s Title Ambitions

Arsenal have the feeling of champions this season, with late goals at Brentford and Luton Town earning them a vital four points in the title race. They are now sat top of the table and they are clear of Manchester City by six points. However, a loss on Saturday would see Villa move within a point of them, while Liverpool would have the chance to move above them. It is important that the Gunners keep their place at the top of the table.

Interesting Stats

Aston Villa have now won 14 successive Premier League matches at home, which equals a club record in the league. A win on Saturday would surpass it.

Arsenal had 52 touches in Luton’s penalty area on Tuesday. This is their highest amount in an away Premier League match since 2016.

Key Men

Watkins

Ollie Watkins has been the talisman for Aston Villa during their rise from the bottom half to top four contenders. His game has developed a lot under Emery and he is now one of the most consistent strikers in the Premier League. At the time of writing, he looks to be nailed on to be part of the England squad this summer, which will be another major milestone for him. This season, he has contributed eight goals and six assists. These are excellent numbers and underline how he can create chances, as well as score them. The battle with William Saliba and Gabriel will be great to watch. It could be key in determining the outcome of the game.

Saka

Bukayo Saka has been one of the most consistent players in the league yet again this season. He got another assist during the week and he seems to be getting a goal contribution in every game at the moment. Arteta relies on Saka and there are no other players in the squad that are trusted to start on the right. That is Saka’s spot and he is rarely rotated. The next month will be testing for him, as he will be needed to play the majority of minutes. This weekend is one of the most important fixtures. Villa’s home record is great and Arsenal will need to be at their very best to win the game. Saka has the quality to turn the game in their favour.

Photo: IMAGO

Team News

Aston Villa are very fortunate at the moment, as they aren’t one of the teams suffering from a lot of injuries. That could come in the coming months, but at the moment, they are well set to continue their good form. Tyrone Mings and Emi Buendia are the long term absentees.

Emile Smith Rowe and Thomas Partey are out for most of this month. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Fabio Vieira will be unavailable for the next six weeks.

Verdict

It is going to be a great game and it will be crucial for the title race. Despite their position, few expect Villa to stay in the race deep into the season, but their home form means that they can land another heavy blow this weekend. Mikel Arteta will be hoping that the extra day’s rest will help his team win at Villa Park. However, they need to be much better than they have been in recent away matches to achieve that.

Predicted Score: Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal
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