Aston Villa host Arsenal on Saturday as Unai Emery and the players look to get back to winning ways after suffering consecutive defeats.
It has been largely positive since Emery took charge back in October, as although there have been setbacks along the way, we have made progress in terms of results and the quality level of our performances.
READ MORE: Villa youngster making ideal impact on loan, stakes claim ahead of summer
However, he’ll be desperate to get us back on track this weekend after losses to Leicester City and Manchester City, and with a meeting against his old club next up, the Spaniard will hopefully mastermind a win and get the better of Mikel Arteta and his side.
There will potentially be changes to the Villa XI following that defeat to City last Sunday, as it’s hoped there is good news on the injury front while there could be rotation to give others a chance with certain individuals struggling in our last outings.
Hopeful of Mings boost, Moreno and McGinn to come in?
Emiliano Martinez will continue between the posts, but there could be changes in defence. Matty Cash will be pushing Ashley Young for a chance at right-back and that could be a change Emery opts to make to add some pace and energy in the side to deal with Arsenal’s threat out wide.
Similarly on the opposite flank, with Lucas Digne coming off in both of our last two games after disappointing performances, Alex Moreno is surely the right choice in this game as we look to not only nullify Saka’s threat on that flank, but also offer an attacking dynamic of our own given Moreno’s quality in the opposition half.
Perhaps the biggest decision will come in the middle though, as it’s hoped Tyrone Mings is able to recover in time to return to the Villa XI, having missed out against City due to injury.
Villa’s form without Mings in the side is woeful, having won one, drawn two and lost nine of 12 Premier League games without him since the 2019/20 season, while we’ve conceded 24 goals in those outings.
That underlines his importance to the current team, and so it would be a welcome boost to have him back.
In midfield, Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz are expected to continue in the central positions, with Emiliano Buendia perhaps continuing to operate on the left flank.
However, after a couple of underwhelming displays, Jacob Ramsey could come out with John McGinn back fit again and potentially starting on the right side instead of him.
Ollie Watkins will undoubtedly continue to lead the line given his fine form under Emery as he looks to make it four consecutive league games with a goal, but there is a big question mark over Leon Bailey.
The Jamaican international is struggling to offer a decisive presence in the final third, and with Jhon Duran and Philippe Coutinho knocking on the door now to replace him having impressed off the bench last week, it remains to be seen if Emery keeps faith in him.
With Coutinho’s lack of football and Duran’s ongoing development as he integrates into the side, the Villa boss could play it ‘safe’ with his starting line-up and show faith in Bailey, who tends to make a key contribution at home, albeit far too infrequently.
So while Mings, Moreno and McGinn are arguably nailed on to come into the Villa XI, it remains to be seen if Cash and Coutinho or Duran follow them too. Emery also has the option of moving Buendia further forward to support Watkins, which would allow Ramsey to switch sides and operate on the left.
There is versatility in this Villa squad, and so it will be interesting to see which formula Emery believes gives us the best chance of toppling Arsenal this weekend.