Alterations to the Arsenal starting line-up and matchday squads are inevitable as Mikel Arteta’s side will be in action six times across all competitions over the next three weeks. After free midweeks to start the new Premier League season, that is all about to change for the Gunners boss starting with Wednesday’s home game against Aston Villa where the Spaniard will be hopeful of welcoming back Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey. The pair had started for Arsenal against Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Bournemouth, but their ever-present record is now over after failing to make the matchday squad for the win over Fulham due to picking up knocks in training on Friday and are being assessed ahead of Villa’s visit to the Emirates Stadium. Those absences allowed Kieran Tierney and Mohamed Elneny to make their first starts of the season, whilst summer signing Marquinhos was named in a senior matchday squad for the first time since arriving from Sao Paulo as he was amongst a substitutes bench that included Cedric Soares.
So having been forced into making his first line-up changes of the campaign against Fulham and with a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on the horizon, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Arteta decided to freshen things up once again for the visit of Aston Villa. Perhaps, it goes without saying that if Zinchenko and Partey are passed fit they will return to the matchday squad at the very least. Whether they would both be handed immediate recalls to the starting line-up remains to be seen as the Gunners manager may have one eye on Sunday’s game. In this scenario, Cedric and Marquinhos could be the ones to make way from the 20-man matchday squad assuming there are no fresh injury concerns in training before Wednesday night’s game under the lights in North London. Since Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat against Newcastle United in the middle of May, Takehiro Tomiyasu’s fitness has been managed very carefully. After missing the opening day win over Crystal Palace, he has made an appearance off the bench in every game since and it must not be too long before he’s in from the start.
This could very well be the case against Villa as he could replace Ben White at right-back which means if Tierney is selected on the opposite flank then the Gunners’ go-to full-back pairing from last season will be reunited from the start for the first time since January. The Gunners were made to work for their fourth consecutive victory against Fulham on Saturday as Aleksandar Mitrovic handed the visitors the lead in the second half. Mikel Arteta’s side responded superbly, however, with Martin Odegaard and Gabriel overturning the hosts’ deficit. The feeling surrounding the club is nothing short of buoyant at the moment, and I’m sure every single supporter is counting down the seconds until Wednesday night’s clash. Aston Villa are in trouble, folks. Their off-the-field ambition is not being matched by their work on the pitch as they’ve won just three of their last 15 Premier League outings. Gerrard’s side were beaten yet again at the weekend and their next two outings are ominous for the under-pressure Villa boss.
Thomas Partey and Oleksandr Zinchenko both missed Saturday’s win over Fulham with injuries, but neither is expected to miss a sustained period of time. However, it’d be a surprise to see either start on Wednesday considering that a trip to Old Trafford beckons on Sunday. There shouldn’t be any other injury concerns for the Gunners with Reiss Nelson sidelined for a couple of months. Mohamed Elneny and Kieran Tierney should retain their places in the starting XI, while Eddie Nketiah will be pushing for a start after he impressed off the bench on Saturday. Steven Gerrard doesn’t have too many concerns on the injury front heading into Wednesday’s game. Summer arrival Diego Carlos successfully underwent surgery earlier this month after rupturing his Achilles tendon and he’s expected to miss much of the season as a result. Fellow centre-back Tyrone Mings is a doubt for this one due to illness.
Emi Buendia will be pushing to start ahead of the disappointing Philippe Coutinho, as will Leon Bailey. Arsenal won in a manner they rarely did last season as Mikel Arteta’s in-game management turned the tide on Saturday evening. The Spaniard is continuing to add strings to his bow and his side will be confident of taking another scalp in the week. The boss may be forced to rotate ahead of Sunday’s clash with Manchester United, but the hosts should have enough for a talented Villa side that just can’t seem to put it together. The Villans are an inefficient pressing side that attempt to build play patiently back to front. Thus, the Gunners should be able to control this contest from minute one if they’re aggressive throughout, and this will likely result in a pretty comfortable victory. Arsenal will be bidding to make it five straight Premier League victories at the start of the 2022-23 campaign when they welcome Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Gunners lead the way in England’s top flight with 12 points from four matches, but Villa are down in 15th spot in the table, having only picked up three points from their opening four games of the campaign Arsenal were far from their best against an impressive Fulham on Saturday, but the Gunners managed to grind out a 2-1 victory over the Cottagers, with Martin Odegaard levelling the scores in the 64th minute before Gabriel Magalhaes netted the winner four minutes from the end of normal time. It has been a flying start to the season for Mikel Arteta’s side, winning all four of their matches, scoring 11 times and conceding just three, to leave them top of the division on 12 points, two points clear of second-placed Manchester City. The Gunners started their campaign with a 2-0 success at Crystal Palace before running out 4-2 winners over Leicester City in their first home match of the season; the capital outfit then beat Bournemouth 3-0 before the narrow success over Marco Silva’s Fulham last time out.
Arteta’s team has the small matter of a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United this weekend, and it would be some achievement if the managed to enter that match with a perfect record from five games. Arsenal will begin their 2022-23 Europa League campaign away to Zurich on September 8, so the squad will need to be managed in the coming weeks, but there have been plenty of positive signs for the North London outfit in the early stages of the season. While Arsenal are flying, the same cannot be said for Villa, who will enter Wednesday’s difficult away fixture off the back of a 1-0 home defeat to West Ham United, with Pablo Fornals netting the winner in Sunday’s affair. Steven Gerrard’s side were beaten at Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the season before recording a 2-1 victory over Everton at Villa Park, but they have now lost their last two in the league, suffering a 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace on August 20 before the reverse to West Ham last time out.
Villa did record an impressive 4-1 win over Bolton Wanderers in the EFL Cup on August 23, but they are currently down in 15th spot in the Premier League table, which is a concern considering that their next two matches are away to Arsenal and at home to Man City. Gerrard’s team finished 14th in England’s top flight last season, 10 points above the relegation zone, and it remains to be seen whether they can push for a potential top-half spot this term. Villa have actually won three of their last five league games against Arsenal but have lost the last two, including a 3-1 defeat in the corresponding match in North London last term. Arsenal were missing Thomas Partey and Oleksandr Zinchenko against Fulham due to knee and thigh problems respectively, and the pair are again major doubts for this match.
Arteta could decide to keep the duo back with a view to potentially featuring against Man United this weekend, so Kieran Tierney and Mohamed Elneny are likely to keep their spots in the side. As for Villa, Diego Carlos is a long-term absentee due to an Achilles tendon injury, but Tyrone Mings could recover from the illness that forced him to miss out against West Ham. Head coach Gerrard is expected to make changes from the side that took to the field for the first whistle against the Hammers, with Jacob Ramsey and Leon Bailey potentially coming in for starts. Ollie Watkins should keep his spot at centre-forward, while Calum Chambers is likely to be the player to drop out of the defence if Mings is able to prove his fitness.
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Elneny; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Kamara, Ramsey; Bailey, Watkins, Coutinho