After three games without a win in the Premier League, suddenly this trip to Villa Park is a very important one tio get Arsenal’s title challenge back on track, whilst Aston Villa are trying to bounce back from their first back-to-back defeats under former Arsenal manager Unai Emery.
For the first time this season Arsenal are in a rut, losing games to Everton and Manchester City and drawing with Brentford in their last three games to lose their spot at the top of the table despite being pretty much flawless to start the season, only dropping a total of 7 points before this run.
This blip has been caused by what was their air-tight defence becoming leaky, with them conceding 13 ‘big chances’ in their 3 games against Everton, Brentford and City, whilst conceding just 12 ‘big chances’ in their previous 11 games in the Premier League, a massive decline.
For Arteta, this decline defensively couldn’t have come at a worse time as it has coincided with their attacking output also dipping, scoring 2 goals in their last 3 games, which is their worst form of the season.
Aston Villa under Unai Emery, despite the last two games, have seen an improvement compared to Steven Gerrard, with Emery’s side picking up 16 points in 9 games, whilst Villa had only picked up 12 in their previous 13 games, and what is more encouraging for Villa fans entering this game, is that 9 of those points has come against 3 of the top 6.
Despite Emery being known for his defensive football, it is in attack where he has improved his side, with his side scoring in every game under his tenure so far, averaging 1.7 goals per game, compared to 0.84 before his appointment, despite losing Danny Ings.
Under Emery, it has been Olly Watkins who has stepped up, scoring 5 goals and assisting twice in 9 appearances, including 3 goals in his last 3 appearances, putting him in great stead coming up against a struggling Arsenal defence.
Since Aston Villa returned to the Premier League, their results between Arsenal have been pretty even, with them winning 3 times, including twice at Villa park and Arsenal winning 4 times, but since Arsenal have found their mojo under Mikel Arteta, Villa have struggled, losing their last 3 meetings
Before losing twice in their last 3 visits at Villa Park, Arsenal had a great record there this millennium, playing there 17 times and not losing once, winning 10 times.
The meeting between these two sides earlier this season was very one-sided, despite the scoreline ending 2-1, with Arsenal having 22 shots on goal with 9 on target, compared to Villa just having 4 shots on goal in the 90 minutes.
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