We aim to end our three-game wait for a Premier League victory when we head to Villa Park on Saturday lunchtime, targeting a return to top spot with Manchester City playing later that afternoon.
Former Gunners boss Unai Emery will face us in Premier League action for the first time, having transformed his team’s fortunes since his arrival from Villarreal which has seen them swiftly climb the table to relative safety.
However back-to-back defeats against Leicester City and Manchester City have seen that good form halted, with the seven goals shipped in those matches as many as they had conceded in their previous seven league games combined.
Emery to the rescue
A miserable start to the season brought just two wins from Villa’s opening nine league games, and saw Steven Gerrard dismissed in October with his side hovering just above the relegation zone.
Emery was installed in his place and instantly saw an upturn in results, starting with an impressive 3-1 home win over Manchester United which kickstarted a run of five victories from their next seven matches either side of the World Cup break to lift them to mid-table, with them heading into this weekend in 11th spot.
January saw a strengthening of the squad with left-back Alex Moreno and teenage Colombian striker Jhon Duran from Real Betis and Chicago Fire respectively, while the most high-profile departure saw Danny Ings head to West Ham United.
What the managers say
Emery: “The target is the same as before the match against Leicester and after the two games we lost: we must try to escape the bottom – we are not yet. We are trying to add points and get to the top 10, and if we can catch some teams we are going to try and do it.
"Arsenal are a really good team in a very good moment. Their last matches won’t change the confidence and how they are progressing, how they are playing and their possibilities to win the title this year.”
Arteta: [Emery] will always put up a very difficult test. He’s a very good manager and I have huge respect for what he's done in every club and the success that he'd had.
"You want to get maximum points and we didn't in the last three games. We have to look at ourselves. We have to be more efficient with the amount of plays and situations we have generated. We haven't had enough points and that's down to us and we have to improve that because we want to win more games." - hear everything from his pre-match press conference
Thomas Partey was added to our injury list after missing Wednesday’s game, and it remains to be seen if he’ll recover in time for our trip to Birmingham, as both he and Emile Smith Rowe with be assessed on Friday.
Gabriel Jesus and Mohamed Elneny will both miss out as they continue to recover from their respective knee injuries.
Tyrone Mings missed last week’s meeting with Manchester City with a knock to his thigh but will be included in the squad after training this week. Villa will be hoping he can pull through as they have won just one of the 12 league games the defender hasn’t started since his arrival in 2019.
Bertrand Traore and backup keeper Robin Olsen should also be available, but Diego Carlos has been a long-term injury casualty after rupturing an Achilles in August and has only just returned to training this week.
Facts and stats
After winning three consecutive Premier League games against us from July 2020 to February 2021, Aston Villa have now lost each of their last three against us.
They lost 4-2 against Leicester in their last home league game, but haven't lost consecutive matches at Villa Park since April last year.
Nine of Villa's 34 league goals conceded this season have come in the opening 15 minutes of games, both a league-high total and percentage (26 per cent). However, the Villans have also scored a league-high share 31 per cent of their goals in this timeframe (8/26).
Ollie Watkins has scored in three successive league games for the first time since August 2018 while he was with Brentford in the Championship. He will be looking to net in four consecutive league appearances for the first time in the top four tiers of English football.
Aaron Ramsdale has kept more away clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League this season (7). Indeed, the last keeper to keep more shutouts on the road for us in a single league campaign was Jens Lehmann in 2003/04 (8).
This is just the second time Simon Hooper has been handed one of our matches to oversee, following on from October’s 5-0 success over Nottingham Forest. Only Paul Tierney has booked more players than him in the division this term.
He has also officiated Villa once in the current campaign when they drew 1-1 against Manchester City. In fact, the Villans are unbeaten the last four times they have been refereed by Hooper, a run stretching back to December 2019.
- Referee: Simon Hooper
- Assistant Referee 1: James Mainwaring
- Assistant Referee 2: Mark Scholes
- Fourth Official: John Brooks
- VAR: Stuart Attwell
- Assistant VAR: Scott Ledger
Recent trips to Villa Park
Only against West Ham United have we won more Premier League away games than we have against Villa, with number 13 racked up in March 2022 when we claimed a 1-0 win thanks to Bukayo Saka’s 30th-minute goal.
Two successive 1-0 home wins had come before that following Villa’s return to the Premier League after three years in the Championship, while the previous encounter that saw Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey both find the target in a 2-0 success back in December 2015.
Nicole Holliday and Adrian Clarke will be live from Emirates Stadium at 11.30am, as they look back on our victory against Aston Villa earlier in the season, give you a tactical breakdown of our opponents and look back at the Manchester City game.
To celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month, they'll mark the 10th anniversary of GayGooners by hearing the story of how they came to be, while from 12.30pm Dan Roebuck and Josh James will bring you live commentary from Villa Park.
It means you can enjoy the perfect build-up to the game and also not miss a kick, right here on Arsenal.com and the official app.