Preview: Arsenal vs Aston Villa – stats, team news, line-ups

Preview: Arsenal vs Aston Villa - stats, team news, line-ups

The Emirates Stadium is set to be a cauldron of noise on Sunday afternoon as Arsenal welcome Champions League-chasing Aston Villa, looking to move a step closer to a first Premier League title in two decades.

For the first time since the Arsene Wenger era, Champions League nights have returned to the Emirates in all their glory. 

Tuesday’s thrilling 2-2 draw against Bayern Munich showcased Mikel Arteta’s men at their attacking best, with Bukayo Saka opening the scoring in the four-goal thriller.

However, a late Leandro Trossard equaliser was needed to cancel out first-half goals from Serge Gnabry and Harry Kane, leaving the tie delicately balanced ahead of the second leg.

With a potential Champions League semi-final on the horizon, Arsenal must quickly shift gears and refocus on a tightly contested Premier League title race.

They’ve been nearly flawless since the turn of the year, dropping just two points in the league.  

Since their gritty defensive display against Manchester City, the Gunners have rediscovered their attacking swagger, dismantling relegation-threatened Luton Town and Brighton & Hove Albion with an aggregate score of 5-0 while barely breaking a sweat defensively.

Sunday’s clash will be a chance for revenge for Arsenal, who were humbled 1-0 by Villa back in December. 

Unai Emery’s Villans were flying high at the time, showcasing their own top-four potential. John McGinn’s early goal condemned the Gunners to only their second league defeat of the season at the time.

With the title race wide open, the Gunners can ill afford a slip-up against a staggering Villa side, so remember to buy Arsenal vs Aston Villa tickets from seatsnet.com to witness the live action from this blockbustre fixture.

Villa renewed hopes of securing their first major trophy in nearly three decades with a European victory.

They tightened their grip on a potential Europa Conference League glory with a 2-1 victory over French outfit Lille in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at Villa Park on Thursday.

Tagged as heavy favourites in the competition, Villa took control early on. 

Ollie Watkins, the man for the big occasion in Birmingham this season, rose highest to nod home a header inside the first quarter of an hour.  

Captain John McGinn doubled the lead with a trademark curling effort after the break, putting Villa firmly in the driving seat.

However, the Ligue 1 side refused to roll over. Bafode Diakite pulled one back late on, injecting a dose of tension into the tie before the return leg at the Decathlon Arena next week.

While Villa lack the star power of their Premier League rivals currently occupying the top four, Watkins is rapidly etching his name onto the club’s legend list.  

The 28-year-old’s 25 goals in all competitions this season are only matched by Dwight Yorke in a Premier League campaign for the Villans.

Villa’s recent league form has been a cause for concern, with only one point collected from their last two matches. 

Last weekend’s six-goal thriller against Brentford saw Watkins rescue a point with an 80th-minute equaliser, but their grip on fourth place is slipping.

Arsenal have been victorious in back-to-back home fixtures versus Villa, but Villa fans will remember their dream 3-0 victory at the Emirates back in November 2020. 

On that occasion, a Watkins brace and a Bukayo Saka own goal secured a famous win for Dean Smith’s side.

Match Preview

Arsenal head into their clash with Villa boasting a formidable record at home against their Midlands rivals.  

The Gunners have triumphed in five of their last six Premier League encounters at the Emirates, with the only blemish being a 3-0 defeat back in November 2020.  

This dominant form is just one reason why Arsenal should be brimming with confidence.

Arteta’s men are on a tear, winning an impressive ten out of their last 11 Premier League matches (D1). Even more remarkably, they’ve found the back of the net at least twice in each of those victories. 

The Gunners have also tightened up defensively, conceding just four goals in their last eleven league outings – although three of those have come at home.

Leading the charge for Arsenal is the in-form Kai Havertz. The German has been directly involved in nine goals in his last seven Premier League appearances, scoring five times and setting up four more.  

This blistering form makes it his most productive season yet in the English top flight, with a career-high of nine goals and five assists already achieved.

Havertz isn’t the only Arsenal player firing on all cylinders. Saka is also enjoying yet another prolific campaign, contributing to 11 goals in his last 11 Premier League matches. 

The English star has netted nine times and provided two assists in that run, and with just one more goal, he’ll etch his name into Arsenal folklore.  

He’d become the first English player for the Gunners to reach 15 goals in a league campaign since the legendary Ian Wright achieved the feat in the 1996/97 season (23).

Villa travel to the Emirates on Saturday with a chance to achieve a rare feat – a Premier League double over Arsenal.

The Villans secured a 1-0 victory at Villa Park back in December and now seek to conquer the Gunners on their own turf for just the third time in Premier League history (previously achieved in 1992/93 and 2020/21).

Villa have been a thorn in the side of London teams on the road lately.  

They’re currently riding a nine-game unbeaten streak in away Premier League matches against clubs from the capital (W6, D3). 

This impressive run comes after a dismal period where they lost eight out of nine such games (W1). In fact, this marks the Villans’ longest unbeaten away run in the capital throughout their Premier League history.

However, their recent trip to Man City ended in a 4-1 defeat, highlighting their struggles against the league’s elite. 

While they haven’t suffered back-to-back away losses since May 2023, they’ve lost all three of their away matches against last season’s top four by a staggering combined score of 12-4.

Team news & potential starting line-ups

Arsenal head into their crucial Premier League clash against Villa with a near-clean bill of health. 

The only absentee for Arteta’s men is Dutch defender Jurrien Timber, who has been sidelined with an ACL injury since the season opener. 

While Arteta did announce Timber’s return to training last week, his availability for Sunday’s match remains uncertain.

Villa, on the other hand, face a much more significant injury crisis. Emery will be without a staggering six players for his return to the Emirates.

Matty Cash, Clement Lenglet, Tyrone Mings, Jacob Ramsey, Boubacar Kamara, and Emi Buendia.

Douglas Luiz is suspended after accumulating ten yellow cards throughout the season. However, Villa fans can find solace in the return of Watkins. 

Arsenal potential starting line-up:

(4-3-3): David Raya; Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe; Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Kai Havertz.

Aston Villa potential starting line-up:

(4-3-3): Emiliano Martinez; Ezri Konsa, Diego Carlos, Pau Torres, Lucas Digne; John McGinn, Youri Tielemans, Tim Iroegbunam; Leon Bailey, Ollie Watkins, Morgan Rogers.

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