Arsenal travelled to Villa park for the early Saturday kick off.
Having lost midweek, both teams would look to bounce back.
Aston Villa sat in 9th with 2 games in hand, whereas Arsenal sat in 10th – climbing up the table after some positive form.
Both Arsenal and Villa have some of the best defensive records in the league, so this is bound to be an interesting fixture.
Last time these met, Villa won convincingly 3-0 at the Emirates and 1-0 at Villa Park. Arsenal would be looking for revenge.
Villa make 2 changes from midweek, with Traore & Nakamba replacing El Ghazi & Douglas Luiz.
Arsenal also make 2 changes, following the suspensions of Leno and Luiz – with Gabriel and Ryan coming in. Aubameyang remains on the bench.
Things started very quickly as Traore got in behind, squared it to Watkins who’s deflected effort went past Ryan, with only 1:15 on the clock.
A great start from Villa, not so much from Arsenal. Very sloppy, particularly from Cedric and Holding have to get tighter!
Villa were in control of the first 15 minutes despite the away side having the possession – as Villa pressed high and cut out any Arsenal attacks.
Mcginn, Targett and Cash were most effective defensively, compressing the spaces efficiently.
Arsenal struggled to get going, with any rhythm being cut out – struggling with ball retention.
Arsenal had their best chance from a free kick from 30 yards out, where Xhaka’s effort was destined for the top corner but for a top save from Emi Martinez.
Very shortly after Villa went up the other end, a smart turn from Traore sent Rob Holding entirely, and his chipped effort was well saved by Ryan – with Gabriel blocking the rebound.
Upon Arsenal’s best spell, Saka got through on goal, only for Konsa to hack him down. The Englishman picked up a yellow, but was he lucky to stay on the pitch?
It was fairly clear Villa’s intent of taking out Saka – with Grealish taking him out twice, Nakamba and Konsa as the ones off the top of my head.
Villa took a 1-0 lead into half time. Things improved for the gunners later on, with dominant spells of the ball.
Ultimately the final third play wasn’t quite there and the slow start was far from ideal.
Hopefully an improvement in the 2nd half in this department. Villa have been strong and compact, making them hard to break down.
The second half should be interesting as Arsenal look to respond.
Arsenal dominated the ball, but struggled to create too much.
Villa defended resolutely and there were few gaps to breach for the gunners, Pepe had a decent chance but was a bit rash with decision making in general today.
Ødegaard had a good cameo when coming on, but skied a good chance.
Aubameyang and Willian had little to no involvement – and don’t give Arteta much reason to play either.
Martinez could count himself fortunate, as he dragged down Lacazette in the penalty area, but got the free kick for his side. Lucky.
Despite having little of the ball, Villa created many chances to kill off the game. Watkins was denied on a number of occasions by debutant Ryan.
Ryan also denied Barkley, Mcginn, Grealish and Watkins on numerous occasions.
This came from losing the ball in bad areas which was only inflicting danger upon ourselves – with Holding, Cedric & Willian the main culprits.
A very disappointing result for the Gunners, now 3 without a win. Villa bounced back as they would’ve planned very impressively.
Another clean sheet for the Midlands club, who have now equalled their points tally from last season. Huge improvement.
There are many players who deserve it for the home team. Most notably; Mings, Cash, Watkins & Mcginn.
Mings – making some very important blocks, such as blocking Smith Rowe’s shot – Mings had a brilliant afternoon.
Was part of a very impressive defensive display of clearing the danger from Villa, including Targett who was also brilliant.
Mcginn – another great display from the Scotsman. Ball recoveries, ball carrying, intensity, defensively very good. A top performance.
Watkins – the Englishman had a great display – great holdup, movement and link up play. The few chances missed is the only reason he misses out on the award.
Cash – handled Pepe exceptionally well, won most duels and was genuinely brilliant.
My MOTM, and has enjoyed a great season following his move from Forest both offensively and defensively.
Ryan – 8
Bellerin – 5
Holding – 4
Gabriel – 6.5
Cedric – 5
Xhaka – 7.5
Partey – 7
Pepe – 6
Smith Rowe – 6.5
Saka – 7
Lacazette – 6
Aubameyang – 5
Ødegaard – 6
Willian – 5
What next for Arsenal?
Arsenal welcome Leeds to the Emirates, where they cannot afford to drop points again after being winless in 3.
Leeds are a high energy, high productive side – so will be a tough game and a good watch.
Last time the sides met, it ended 0-0 at Elland Road – where Leeds were unfortunate not to take all 3 points.
Score prediction: 2-1 Arsenal.
You can find this game on Sky Sports, next Sunday at 4:30pm.