Arsenal vs Aston Villa – LIVE Reddit Soccer 19/03/2022
Arsenal will endeavour to get their top-four charge back on track when Aston Villa welcome them to Villa Park for Saturday’s early Premier League kickoff. Steven Gerrard’s side went down 2-1 to West Ham United last weekend, while the Gunners lost 2-0 to Liverpool in midweek. It was an emotional occasion at the London Stadium last Sunday, but unfortunately for Aston Villa, there was little joy to be had, as top-four chasing West Ham abruptly ended the Lions’ three-game winning streak with a 2-1 success on their own turf.
Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko caused a few tears as he opened the scoring in clinical fashion in the 70th minute before Pablo Fornals seemingly made sure of the result with eight minutes remaining, although Jacob Ramsey struck a sublime late consolation to make things interesting. However, Villa’s three-game winning run with three clean sheets in tow before the West Ham loss has seen Gerrard’s men cement their position in the top half of the Premier League table, with the Lions sitting pretty in ninth at the time of writing.
Gerrard’s crop may have put four unanswered goals past Southampton during their last game at Villa Park, but performances at home have been rather hard to come by for the West Midlands side, who had previously gone four without a win on their own turf before the Saints paid a visit. Villa have developed something of a penchant for lunchtime kickoffs, though – winning each of their last four 12:30pm Saturday encounters – and Mikel Arteta is less than happy with the Gunners’ lack of recovery time for the early journey.
Attempting to get one over a rampant Liverpool was a step too far for top-four chasing Arsenal, and although a resilient first 45 minutes sparked optimism among Gooners, the Reds’ clinical qualities came to the fore in the second period. The Gunners’ nemesis Diogo Jota beat Aaron Ramsdale at his near post seconds before being taken off for Roberto Firmino, who had the simple job of converting from close range just after the hour mark after some strong play from Andy Robertson down the left.
Arteta witnessed his side’s five-game winning run come to an end in frustrating fashion on the Emirates soil, but the Gunners remain in the driving seat when it comes to the Champions League race – still in fourth and a point clear of Manchester United with two games in hand. Arteta was not a happy bunny after the Liverpool loss as he navigates a recovery period of less than 72 hours for the trip to Villa Park, but the fatigued Gunners can take confidence from their four-game winning run away from home in the Premier League, and their youthful attackers have struck 13 goals on rival turf in that period.
Amid all the emotions at the London Stadium last weekend when Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko scored for West Ham United against Aston Villa, the Villans would have felt the disappointment of falling just short in a competitive game.
While Steven Gerrard’s men were on top in phases against West Ham, he will be looking to improve his side’s ability to capitalise on those phases and control matches for extended periods. Villa put the Hammers under real pressure late on, but could not find a late equaliser.
Despite that loss, Villa still retain slim hopes of finishing in one of the European places. However, much will depend on teams above them dropping points. Following their loss against West Ham, a much bigger test awaits Gerrard’s men in the form of Arsenal.
The Gunners’ five game-winning run was halted by title-chasing Liverpool on Wednesday night at the Emirates. Despite the defeat in a game which was decided on fine margins, Arsenal proved that they are a side on the rise.
Arteta is expected to continue fielding his strongest side when they take on Aston Villa, as a top-four finish is far from certain. Arsenal remain in control of their own destiny in fourth position, one point ahead of Manchester United with two games in hand over them. The clash against Aston Villa will be a big test for Arteta and his players as they look to get back to winning ways.
Lucas Digne, who limped off against West Ham, could be out of the game, as the Arsenal clash may be too soon for a return. The Frenchman could target a comeback after the international break. Kortney Hause is also expected to be out of the game with an abdominal issue.
Douglas Luiz and Calum Chambers suffered facial injuries in the previous game and will be assessed before the match against Arsenal. The duo is expected to recover in time to feature from the start. The former Gunners star will be keen on playing against his old side.
Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners when they welcomed Aston Villa to the Emirates earlier this season, but they have suffered back-to-back 1-0 defeats at Villa Park since the Lions returned to the big time in 2019, and it is clear who the fresher set of legs will belong to this weekend. Villa left-back Lucas Digne lasted a mere 10 minutes against West Ham before being taken off with a muscle issue and has been ruled out of this battle, with Kortney Hause also absent due to an abdominal issue.
Douglas Luiz and ex-Gunner Calum Chambers both left the pitch with facial injuries after the win over West Ham – with the former needing to undergo surgery – and Gerrard may not be prepared to risk either man from the off here. Ashley Young is set to deputise for Digne on the left-hand side, but with Marvelous Nakamba still absent, Gerrard may be forced to turn to Morgan Sanson to fill the void in the engine room. Meanwhile, Arsenal did not pick up any fresh concerns in the defeat to Liverpool, with Takehiro Tomiyasu (calf) still a doubt after being left out of the Japan squad for March’s World Cup qualifiers.