|Gabriel Jesus will be the man to watch at the Emirates on Wednesday against Aston Villa. (Photo credit: Squawka)|
Is it time to press the panic button at Arsenal yet? Thomas Partey and Alex Zinchenko missed the turbulent game against Fulham on Saturday and Mohammed Elneny has joined the duo on the injury list, de javu?
The Gunners labored past the Lilywhites at the Emirates on Saturday with Gabriel Meghalaes moving from villain to hero in one half of football; scoring the winner with a fortuitous bounce after gifting Alexander Mitrovic the opener.
Aston Villa aren’t in a good place and they just might need the result more at the Emirates than the hosts following a run of poor results. Steven Gerrard’s side lost on the opening day to newly promoted Bournemouth but rallied to a win in the second game, that was their last positive result.
A loss to Arsenal on Wednesday could end Aston Villa in the relegation waters and that might be ominous considering that the Cherries already parted ways with Scott Parker, who had stronger teams to play in the three games he lost scandalously.
How will Villa line up? Phillip Coutinho is a doubt after limping off against Westham last weekend; the home loss to the Hammers has heaped lots of pressure on Gerrard and he may well consider restoring Tyron Mings to the starting lineup.
Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings will start upfront with Leon Bailley coming in from the flanks; Emiliano Buendia is a possibility but expect Gerrard to approach the game with caution to avoid defeat and then hit the Gunners on the break.
Arsenal will have to find solutions for the midfield void left by Partey and Elneny; Sambi Lokonga and Granit Xhaka are the obvious answers but Zinchenko could deputize if fit enough for the game. Expect Arsenal to go hard with same top three of Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.
Arsenal beat Villa home and away last season, replicating what Villa did two seasons ago. They both have clean slate now, who will come out tops?