It was a confidence boosting week for the Gunners as Mikel Arteta got the better of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to keep their slim Europa League hopes alive, and out manoeuvred his old boss Pep Guardiola in the FA Cup semi-final, which will likely be their best chance at European qualification next season.
Aston Villa had their hopes shattered on their visit to Goodison Park last week, as Theo Walcott’s late header earned the hosts a point, and leave the midlands club on the brink of relegation, meaning this is a must win game for them.
While their record of W6-D3-L9 at Villa Park isn’t abysmal, only Southampton and Norwich have a worse record on home soil and all six of those wins have come against bottom half opposition, which is definitely not encouraging enough to back an upset.
What’s more, their struggles aren’t just at one end of the pitch as while they’ve stuttered in front of goal with no real talisman to rely on.
They’ve managed just five goals across their last 10 outings now, and at the other end only the Canaries have a worse defensive record, so we can’t get behind the home win.
Arsenal To Beat Aston Villa
Arsenal are undoubtedly improved under Arteta and having won just two of their opening 15 away matches, the Gunners have now won two of their last three, including an impressive 2-0 victory over Champions League chasing Wolves.
They did however lose to North London rivals Spurs on their last road trip in a game that highlighted the need for some new personnel, though the Lilywhites are far tougher than Villa and the visitors should have enough about them.
Over 2.5 Goals
These two sides sit in the top half for goals per game this season with an average of 2.82 between them. This should be a far cry from a cagey affair, with a draw doing nothing for either side so we’d be surprised if the hosts just sit back.
That should leave this game pretty open, and if the head-to-heads are anything to go by, we shouldn’t be short of goals. 13 of the last 15 meetings in all competitions this decade have seen a minimum of three goals, with Arsenal scoring a whopping 21 by themselves across the past six.
The Gunners have won seven on the bounce against the Villains now, including the reverse fixture this season despite having Ainsley Maitland-Niles sent off when they were a goal down in the first half, and we’re inclined to see this as the end of the road this season for Villa.