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Villama Preview: Arsenal v Aston Villa

Aston Villa travel to the Emirates Stadium as they look to bounce back against Mikel Arteta’s Gunners.

As far as collapses go, last week qualifies. Aston Villa were beating Wolves by a score of 2-0 and then the bottom fell out with a final score of 3-2.

Moving on, Aston Villa face off against Arsenal at the Emirates Friday. A proud club known for tradition and firing a beloved mascot, Arsenal are playing well as of late. Their last two matches were draws (2-2 against Crystal Palace and 0-0 at Brighton), but prior to that, the Gunners pulled off three straight wins against the likes of Norwich, Burnley, and secured a 3-1 home win over rival Spurs. There is plenty of talent to go around, but forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, center-back Gabriel Magalhaes, and one time Villa transfer target Emile Smith Rowe at central/left midfield are players to keep an eye on.

The big question this week seems to be whether or not Dean Smith will stick with the 3-5-2 formation for Arsenal and my presumption is that he will. I would love to see the 4-3-3 as much as anyone else, but that is not tenable until everyone’s fully fit. Emi Martinez will man the goal with Tyone Mings, Axel Tuanzebe, and Ezri Konza playing in front of him. Matty Target will be to their left while Matty Cash patrols the right. The midfield should feature Douglas Luiz and John Mcginn, with either Emi Buendia or Jacob Ramsey completing the midfield three. I would prefer the latter, but the prior seems more likely. Danny Ings will partner with Ollie Watkins up front. Leon Bailey will be available, but will likely feature in the “finisher” role rather than starting after a prolonged absence due to injury.

Looking at this rationally, this will be a tough one for Villa to win. Arsenal are playing well and Aston Villa just blew a 2-0 lead with moments left to play against Wolves. However, this is sport and with that comes superstition. For one reason or another, every team in every sport has a team(s) that they just struggle against. As of late, Aston Villa is that team for Arsenal with three straight wins against the Norht London side heading into Friday.

PREDICTION: If I am looking at this game with the aforementioned rational perspective, I would opt for a 3-1 or 2-1 loss, but it is Halloween season and we are talking about superstition. I am going for a 2-1 Villa win because they have got Arsenal’s number and Arsenal could have handled the Gunnersaurus situation better. Don’t mess with mascots — that’s how sports curses start (see the Chicago Cubs goat).

Arsenal v Aston Villa - Premier League
The Emirates has been a happy hunting ground for Villa as of late. Will that continue?
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images