The 3-1 loss to Manchester City was equal parts disappointing and encouraging. City are going to beat people and if you’re going to bend rules for years and years, you had better be beating teams like that. Despite all of that, Villa looked alright in the second half: Jhon Duran and his shot off the bar in particular.
Moving on to this week, the Villans are set to take on the Gunners. It’s been rough for the London side lately, having last won a match on January 22nd of this year against Manchester United (3-2), Mikel Arteta’s bunch are in a slump. Then again, so were Leicester City. Let’s also not forget that they sit second in the table behind City to Villa’s eleventh. Players to keep an eye on include midfielders Bukayo Saka, Jorginho, and Martin Odegaard.
For Villa this week, I can see a number of changes being made to Unai Emery’s 4-4-2. Emi Martinez will once again start in goal, flanked by Alex Moreno to his left and Matty Cash to his right. The Cash or Ashley Young debate is still very much alive this week, and I can see Emery going with Young as much or more than I can see him starting Cash, but I’m still a slightly leaning towards Cash. The center-back pairing will be Tyrone Mings, presuming he’s fully back from injury, and Ezri Konsa. Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz will partner in holding midfield. Flanking them will be Emi Buendia on the left and, reclaiming his starting spot, John McGinn on the right. At some point I’d like to see McGinn on the right and Jacob Ramsey on the left, but it’s Buendia and McGinn for Saturday. Ollie Watkins will partner with Jhon Duran at striker. Genuinely excited to see Villa play in general, but it’s fair to say there’s high anticipation for a Duran start on my end.
PREDICTION: It feels like tempting fate to predict a Villa victory here. Arsenal are prime to be beaten, but at some point they will reclaim their form and the talent is clearly there to do it sooner rather than later. Villa win 2-1 with Duran scoring a goal in his starting debut.