Arsenal return from our 3-0 victory at Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday night trying to end a three-game winless streak in the Premier League.
We start the weekend down in seventh but only behind Tottenham Hotspur in third place on goal difference. With Chelsea facing Liverpool and Spurs travelling to Leicester City, we should be able to move up a few places with three points over Aston Villa on Sunday.
Dean Smith’s side were promoted via the playoffs last season and have lost both of their away Premier League fixtures so far this season, both in London too – at Spurs and Crystal Palace. They also failed to take advantage of 10 man West Ham United on Monday night as they were held 0-0 on home soil.
Alexandre Lacazette remains on the sidelines so Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues in his central role where he scored a brace at Watford and one in the Europe midweek.
Sead Kolasinac limped off in the final minutes in Germany during the week but will hopefully be fully fit in time for this weekend’s game. With Kieran Tierney and Carl Jenkinson out we have no cover since selling Nacho Monreal to Real Sociedad.
At centre-back, Rob Holding was part of the squad that travelled during the week but did not feature after just recovering from his nine month layoff. Konstantinos Mavropanos is lacking match fitness, but David Luiz, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi are all available.
For the visitors, Matthew Targett is available to make his debut at left-back. Trezeguet is available again in midfielder after suspension, but Jonathan Kodjia is sidelined.
We kept a clean sheet against Frankfurt with Shkodran Mustafi partnering David Luiz in the middle of our defence so it will be interesting to see if Unai Emery sticks with the German or recalls Sokratis following his blunder that gifted Watford their first goal last weekend.
Lucas Torreira started last time out so I expect Matteo Guendouzi to partner Granit Xhaka in central midfield this weekend. It didn’t work with Mesut Ozil on the left at Vicarage Road so either Reiss Nelson or Buyako Saka should get the start down the wing. The latter greatly impressed in the Europa League.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Bernd Leno; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, David Luiz, Sead Kolasinac; Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Dani Ceballos; Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Reiss Nelson
The team bounced back from our disaster at Watford by thrashing a decent German side and I think that will give us more than enough momentum to beat an Aston Villa side who head into the weekend narrowly above the relegation zone.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is on fire and I expect his goalscoring run to continue at the Emirates on Sunday, whilst I remain hopeful that Nicolas Pepe will break his duck any game soon.
Jack Grealish and John McGinn offer energy in midfield for Aston Villa but I don’t think Douglas Luiz as the holding midfielder will be good enough to keep Dani Ceballos quiet as we run away with this one, 4-1.