Aston Villa are scheduled to host Arsenal in tomorrow’s early kick-off in the Premier League.
Dean Smith’s side have experienced a superb second season since their return to the top-flight and they are presently on 32 points after 20 games into the campaign.
They need only three more points to achieve the tally from the previous season where they managed to avoid relegation in the final matchday with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against West Ham United.
In the past five matches, their form has been inconsistent with a defeat in every alternate game and one of their most disappointing performances of the season came in midweek where they lost 3-1 to the Hammers at home.
They will be aiming to return to winning ways when the Gunners make the trip to Villa Park. The north London side have lost the previous two meetings and we look into how Villa can come up trumps tomorrow.
High-press the Gunners backline:
The Gunners statistically hold the second-best defensive record in the division with only 22 goals conceded from 21 matches. However, that does not tell the true story. The north London side are cautious at the back when the opposition tends to high-press them and that has occasionally led to them squandering possession in the final third of the pitch. They have made amends for the same with some last-ditch defending and few excellent saves from goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who is suspended for this game. The Villans need to make the most when they capitalise on any strayed passes around the Gunners box.
Test the goalkeeper:
With Leno suspended for his straight red card against Wolves, Alex Runarsson appears the likely candidate to start tomorrow with Mat Ryan also nursing a thigh problem. The 26-year-old stood firm for nine-man Arsenal during the final 23 minutes against Wolves with a couple of strong saves. However, there are still question marks over his goalkeeping. Back in December, he made two blunders against Manchester City. He missed a punch which led to Gabriel Jesus’ free header on goal. Elsewhere, he tried to punch a Riyad Mahrez free-kick which was straight at him and ended up sending the ball into his own net. Villa will need to get more shots in to test Runarsson, who may be nervous in his maiden Premier League start.
Defend better on the wings:
Watching the Gunners from recent games, it is quite clear that their main scoring threat comes from either wing. Bukayo Saka has been the chief creator and goalscorer operating on the right wing over the past month, but Nicolas Pepe has started proving his worth on the opposite flank with goals in back-to-back away games. Unlike earlier this season, the Gunners have limited their crosses into the box and the focus has been more on quick interchange of passes to carve goalscoring opportunities. The likes of Anwar El Ghazi and Jack Grealish need to double up with the full-backs to restrict the threat coming out from out wide.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com
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