There are clear and ominous storm clouds on the horizon as Aston Villa travel south to take on an Arsenal side that currently sit atop the table. The weekend’s results against West Ham United were and continue to be palpably disappointing, setting up what feels like the last days of Steven Gerrard. Things felt off at the beginning of the season, with seeming issues between Tyrone Mings and Gerrard, things have yet to really feel right with the team as a the whole, and the fanbase is decidedly unsettled. So, what does that entail for Wednesday? Arsenal haven’t lost a match this season, with wins over Crystal Palace (0-2), Leicester (4-2), Bournemouth (3-0), and Fulham (2-1), and they have ample talent. Gabriel Jesus at striker, and Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka in the midfield are among those to look out for. To put it lightly, this is going to be a very tough ask.
FLASHBACK: It was too little too late for Aston Villa’s late comeback at the Emirates last season, with the North London outfit cruising to a 3-0 lead prior to Jacob Ramsey’s late strike in the 82nd minute.
Who starts this week and what’s the formation? I’m guessing it’s 4-4-2 diamond again, but I’d love to see something different that isn’t the Christmas tree 4-2-3-1 with two number 10’s. Maybe a 4-2-3-1 with a duo between Douglas Luiz, Boubacar Kamara, and Marvelous Nakamba, with Emi Buendia playing at 10? In any event, I’d expect something closer to what Gerrard prefers. Emi Martinez in goal, with a center-back partnership of Mings and Calum Chambers, with Lucas Digne to their left and Matty Cash to the right. In the midfield, Boubacar Kamara would seem to remain the only certainty. I’d like to see Douglas Luiz and John McGinn, but I think we’ll end up seeing Jacob Ramsey over Luiz. At 10, I’d like to see Emi Buendia and I think there’s a good enough chance Gerrard goes in that direction. Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins should partner at striker.
PREDICTION: I’d love to predict a win, and given the talent on the team it’s not completely out of the question, but it’s definitely in the same region that “out of the question” lives in. Knocking on wood for a nice little 1-0 win, and as frustrating as things are at the moment you’d still love to see things turned around with Gerrard at the helm, but a 3-1 loss seems much more realistic.