Good day one and all.
It has been quite a week? After disappointment at Vicarage Road that saw us throw away a two-goal lead, we bounced back in fine style with a 3-0 victory at Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League. It is on the back of that clean sheet, a first in five games, that Arsenal welcome promoted side Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium, looking to put end to a three match winless Premier League run.
Now, Thursday night wasn’t one of those performances that got one bouncing up and down with excitement, but considering Unai Emery made seven changes, with first starts of the season to four alongside a few fringe players… the win is a much-needed morale booster from which we can only build on.
The Villains are not having a great return to the topflight in their opening five fixtures – a run that include three defeats (W1, D1) and just one goal in their last two games – as they hover just above the drop zone. This is far from impressive for Dean Smith’s side who has invested just short of £140m in the summer. Taking into account that Arsenal has spent just as much, there’s plenty riding on this match for both teams whose off-season enthusiasm are starting to wane.
A player never short of encouragement is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. In Lacazette’s absence we’ve become increasingly reliant on his goals and it’s a task he is shouldering with aplomb – six goals from as many matches. With Villa’s defensive boat creaking at the bits, it’s unlikely he’ll do his reputation as a flat-track bully any harm.
Arsenal’s defensive follies aside, Villa’s attack aren’t exactly sparkling in glory so this is match we are expected to win and our firepower has already showed they can strike against any side. Ergo, one can anticipate Smith to be prudent and set his team up to sit deep, try limit our movement and hit us on the counter.
Oddly enough this would favor us as it mean Emery can ditch the diamond formation as well as the passing at the back stuff.
The last five meetings between these two clubs the Gunners scored 18 goals and conceded none, making this an opportune time for our defense to bag another clean sheet.