Arsenal hopes to put an end to a three-game winless streak in the Premier League when they travel to face Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday, 18 February. Last Word on Football tries to put together an Arsenal Predicted Lineup for their crucial fixture, which they’ll need to win to get their Premier League title charge back on track.
Arsenal Predicted Lineup vs Aston Villa
How Arsenal Have Lined-Up Recently
The Gunners have experienced a little bit of a breakdown in February and are yet to win a single league game this month so far. Their inability to keep winning has seen Manchester City snatch away the first place from them and now leave them to do the chasing in the Premier League title race.
Mikel Arteta has used a relatively ‘winning combination’ for the majority of his games this season. That includes the likes of Aaron Ramsdale, Gabriel Magalhaes, William Saliba, and Oleksandr Zinchenko all frequently featuring for the Gunners. Takehiro Tomiyasu hasn’t received much Premier League game-time and that cost him, as he gave away a silly goal in the loss to City.
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Ben White should return to the starting 11 soon – while Arteta is likely to persist with his flexible front three of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, and Eddie Nketiah despite the last loss. He’ll try to motivate them to regain their strengths and take the previous defeat as motivation to go on a winning streak until the end of the Premier League season.
Arsenal’s Recent Form and Tactics
The Gunners are yet to win a game since their thrilling 3-2 win over Manchester United in the Premier League on January 22. They have played four games since then, losing thrice and playing out a frustrating draw in which VAR ended up possibly costing them two more points.
Arteta is unlikely to move away from the 4-3-3 formation that has secured his side a lot of success all through his season. This formation, which is a far cry from the three-man backline which he used to deploy in his initial years, allows Arsenal to play more possession-heavy attacking football.
The Gunners actually dominated more of the possession against City, but they need to be more careful and smart about how to move the ball forward from the backline. Repeating errors by giving away possession in their own box can haunt them even further against Villa.
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Arteta is likely to urge his side to reignite their spirits and play the kind of entertaining, attacking football that got them to the top of the league table in the first place. That involves being quick with their build-up play and using the likes of Saka as well as Martinelli to get into the final third to create chances or pick quality shots out of nowhere.
Eddie Nketiah missed a few big chances against City, but at least he’s being a major threat with his position. He just needs to be defter with his finishing and put away chances clinically to rediscover the confidence that helped him soar as a short-term replacement for the injured Gabriel Jesus. Martin Odegaard needs to be more forceful on the ball and accurate with his final third passes to create chances.
The Arsenal backline has to be more precise in moving the ball forward from their pitch to the opposition’s half. Moreover, the likes of Saliba and Gabriel need to more concentrated around their own box to stop Villa from finding empty spaces or threatening Aaron Ramsdale’s goal. Ben White should come on for Tomiyasu and be a more forceful figure on the right. Thomas Partey should also return and help add more steel to the midfield, as well as add Granit Xhaka’s freedom to be a menacing figure in the final third.
This should be a big game for Arsenal and one they need to win to prove they’re not out of the title race. They need to finish away their chances more emphatically and be composed defensively to grind out a win that can help put more pressure on the Citizens.
Arsenal Injuries to Consider
Gabriel Jesus has returned to light training, but he is unlikely to be back before June. Mohamed Elneny is still out with a long-term injury, while Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe remain doubtful for this game.
Arsenal Predicted Lineup
Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah