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Aston Villa v Arsenal

Scouting Report - Aston Villa

Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Arsène Wenger's side play Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.

Michael Cox

Arsene Wenger will find a familiar face in the opposition dugout at Villa Park this weekend - Remi Garde, who played for Arsenal between 1996 and 1999. Just four league games into his spell as Aston Villa manager, the Frenchman is inevitably still trying to find his best starting XI.

Villa are badly struggling - Garde has collected two points, making a total of six for the season. They’re already seven points away from survival, and have yet to win at home this season. Expect a defensive, counter-attacking performance this weekend.

"Theo Walcott might get some joy down the right flank"

Michael Cox

Garde’s main decision is up front, where Jordan Ayew started the first three games, but Rudy Gestede was given a run-out at Southampton last weekend. They couldn’t be more different: Ayew is pure pace, while Gestede is extremely dangerous in the air, and Arsenal’s defensive line must adjust accordingly.

Ayew seems more likely to start up front, but if Gestede gets the nod then Ayew will be used on the flank in a rough 4-3-3 system. The other wide player could be Scott Sinclair, Carles Gil or Jack Grealish - although these players are given license to move inside into space between the lines.

Garde seems to like Jordan Veretout, who is given most freedom to break forward into attack, in the knowledge two of Idrissa Gueye, Ashley Westwood and Carlos Sanchez will be holding their position in front of the defence.

The backline has suffered from injuries: in the centre, both Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott have had spells out, meaning opportunities for Jores Okore and Ciaran Clark.

At left-back, the season-ending injury suffered by the excellent Jordan Amavi has meant Kieran Richardson and Leandro Bacuna filling in - neither have looked comfortable, so Theo Walcott might get some joy down the right flank.

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