After a fine start to the new Premier League season, Aston Villa have hit a bit of a brick wall in the last couple of weeks.
Dean Smith’s side have lost back-to-back games to Leeds United and Southampton, with both of those defeats coming at home at Villa Park. On Sunday, they travel to the Emirates to take on an in-form Arsenal, who are coming off the back of an impressive 1-0 win over Manchester United last weekend, and another momentum-boosting 4-1 victory over Molde in the Europa League.
Smith will be hoping to get back to winning ways when they make the trip to north London, and after pulling off a 1-0 win the last time the two sides met at the back end of last season, he will be confident of doing exactly that this time around.
Below is a look at how Villa might line up for the clash against Mikel Arteta’s side.
After enjoying an impressive start to life at Villa Park, things have been a lot more difficult for summer signing Emiliano Martinez, who has watched both Leeds and Southampton put seven goals past him in the past couple of weeks.
That has led to former Premier League goalkeeper Chris Kirkland to raise questions about his performances, who even went so far as to say that “he’s got away with things” when speaking exclusively to FootballFanCast.
Martinez will be hoping for an improved performance against his former side, who he helped win both the FA Cup and Community Shield over the summer.
In front of him, Smith is unlikely to make major changes even despite the wretched defensive display over the past couple of league games, meaning his back-four will remain unchanged.
Central midfield could see the Villa boss however make a big call. John McGinn simply hasn’t been at the races this season, and produced yet another below-par display last time out, and could finally be dropped for someone like Marvelous Nakamba.
Further ahead, Smith confirmed that Bertrand Traore’s injury will keep him out of action for Sunday, with the 44-cap Trezeguet – who impressed as a substitute in the defeat to Southampton – more than ready to come in and make his mark.
Predicted XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Nakamba, Luiz; Trezeguet, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins.