Arsenal welcome Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium during the week, with the two sides having contrasting starts to the season. The Gunners have won all four matches to date and sit top of the table. Meanwhile, Villa have taken just three points from their four matches and Steven Gerrard is under pressure. They have Arsenal and Manchester City in their next two matches, which suggests that it could get worse before it gets better. Last season, Arsenal won both meetings and they will be hoping to have similar success in the fixture, starting on Wednesday.
It has been a superb start to the season for Arsenal and their supporters will be dreaming of challenging for the title. Although it will be tough to maintain their perfect start and continue to challenge towards the top of the table, it is clear that Mikel Arteta has made significant progress at Arsenal. The squad has been shaped in his image, with Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko raising the levels in the club, with the pair having a winning mentality. This is something that the Gunners have perhaps lacked in recent times, as they have been accused of lacking the correct mentality to get back into the Champions League.
Aston Villa had a lot of hope for the season, but the start will have dampened expectations. Some are already beginning to question whether Gerrard is the right man for the job, as he seems confused of his best team and how to get the most of a talented squad. The board have backed him with some major additions since his appointment, but they continue to languish in mid-table. There is time for him to turn this around. If he is to do that, he needs his team to perform well on Wednesday. The performance will be just as important as the result.
Arsenal have won the first four matches of a Premier League season for the first time since 2004-5, when they finished second.
During their first two away matches, Aston Villa have conceded five goals.
After being appointed captain, there could easily have been a drop in form for Martin Odegaard, especially at such a young age. It is impressive to see him start the season so well and lead his team to the top of the table. He has long been spoken about as a world class talent, but he is now beginning to show it on a consistent basis. The coming of age shows a player that could have played regularly for Real Madrid. It is Arsenal’s gain that the European champions opted to move him on. Now, he is the leader of the new generation at Arsenal, with the team looking capable of challenging at the very top of English football. As well as his leadership, Odegaard is an excellent creator and he looks like he can regularly get returns in the final third. So far, he has three goals. As the season progresses, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get more assists than he does goals, even if he is yet to register one yet.
It is a big season for Ollie Watkins, as he should now have the experience to perform consistently in the Premier League. The Aston Villa forward will have one eye on the World Cup, as he is one of the options available to Gareth Southgate to take as a back-up to Harry Kane. If he is to get into the World Cup squad, he needs to perform consistently for his club. Despite Villa’s poor start, Watkins has one goal and two assists, which means he has played a part in all three of their goals. This underlines his importance to the team and why he will be key at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal have started the season well, but they have looked vulnerable at the back at times. Watkins could be a thorn in their side.
Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey are both doubts with injuries that forced them to miss the weekend. They are the only two injury concerns for Arsenal. There could be some rotation, with Emile Smith Rowe pushing for minutes.
Diego Carlos is missing with a calf injury, while Tyrone Mings is a doubt with illness. The issues they have at centre back could force them into the transfer market.
Considering the form of the two teams, it would be surprising to see Aston Villa manage to get something from North London. Arsenal have looked very strong in the early weeks and showed their impressive mentality to come from behind to beat Fulham on Saturday. Villa have some talented players, but their performances are lacking fluidity. A home win is on the cards.
Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa