Aston Villa will be hoping that they can correct their most recent outing in the Premier League and return to winning ways as they get this weekend kicked off with a lunchtime clash against Arsenal.
Dean Smith’s side will welcome the inconsistent Arsenal to Villa Park this afternoon as both sides look to bank a crucial three points in their respective season. The Lions are coming off the back of a 3-1 defeat to West Ham on home soil whilst Mikel Arteta’s men were recently beaten by Wolves.
Smith isn’t usually known for straying away from his usual lineup and team selections. However, times are becoming urgent as nine outfield players have played more than 1,000 minutes this season, with Ollie Watkins and Emi Martinez playing all 20 Premier League so far, according to Birmingham Live.
With several players in need of a rest and plenty vying for their chance off the bench, here’s how Football FanCast has predicted Villa to lineup this afternoon…
Although rotation can be key in the Premier League, there’s very little chance that Smith will change up any of his defensive personnel. The Villa backline is unchanged in their last six Premier League games. Even with an injury scare on Matt Targett against Manchester City, the left-back was back in action the following match against Newcastle in their 2-0 victory.
However, the manager’s more creative options will be up for debate. Players like Bertrand Traore and Trezeguet are looking to get their chance to cement themselves in the Villa squad as one of Smith’s regular choices. Last time out, Anwar El Ghazi was disappointing on the right wing and was hauled off the pitch after half-time.
According to Sofascore, the Dutchman managed to complete just seven accurate passes in the first half and lost possession 11 times. This is far from the creative masterclass the boss will have wanted from his winger and could be tempted to bring Trezeguet back into the squad.
The Egyptian hasn’t started for Villa since the reverse West Ham fixture back in November. He then spent eight games on the sidelines due to a head injury and has been limited to cameo appearances since his return, according to Transfermarkt.
Another player who could be put back into the spotlight is £78,000 per week Traore. The wide-man has five goalscoring contributions in his last ten appearances for the Lions and will be paramount for breaking sown Arsenal’s backline this afternoon as Villa kick off this weekend’s action.
That could see Jack Grealish move into the number ten role, with Ross Barkley dropped to the bench. Ollie Watkins will of course lead the line as he has always done, despite not missing a single minute of Premier League football this season.
Predicted XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn: Traore, Grealish, Trezeguet; Watkins.