Arsenal v Aston Villa: What to expect from Dean Smith’s side at the Emirates

Arsenal will hope to return to winning ways when they take on Aston Villa on Friday night.

<p> Thomas Partey of Arsenal is tackled by Marvelous Nakamba of Aston Villa   during the Premier League match (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)</p>

Thomas Partey of Arsenal is tackled by Marvelous Nakamba of Aston Villa during the Premier League match (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Manager Mikel Arteta will hope that the home crowd at the Emirates can help his side get over visiting Aston Villa on Friday night.

The Gunners are without a defeat in their last five outings and snatched a point from Crystal Palace with the last kick of the game, while Villa collapsed against Wolverhampton.

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Both teams are in mid-table for a reason - there are some positives about the way they have started the season and they should serve us a great encounter under the lights.

Our BirminghamWorld reporter, Ben Ramsdale has come through with what to expect from visiting Villa at the Emirates.

Key player(s) Arsenal need to be wary of?

John McGinn isn’t just having his best season so far in an Aston Villa shirt, he’s probably having the best season of his entire career.

The Scot has always had the quality but this year his game has taken it up another level, for both club and country.

And it’s hard not to mention Ollie Watkins who seems to absolutely love playing against Arsenal.

He’s scored three in two for Villa against the Gunners and after his first goal of the season last week, he probably fancies improving that record further on Friday.

Strengths

Undoubtedly the attacking talent the team has. The best form of defence is certainly attack for Villa.

That’s not to disregard the quality that is within the back-line because there are some real good players there but the forward unit are a level up.

Getting them all in the same team and firing is a different story.

Bukayo Saka of Arsenal and Ezri Konsa of Aston Villa battle for possession during the Premier League (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Weaknesses

Consistency. I’ve said it before on numerous occasions already this season but Villa are consistently inconsistent.

From outplaying Chelsea and winning at Old Trafford to putting in abject performances against Watford and Tottenham, you just don’t seem to know which you’re going to get at the minute.

If they turn up, they can beat anyone but you can’t trust them to do that on a regular basis at the minute.

Any team news/injuries?

Big boosts for Villa came out of Dean Smith’s pre-match press conference. Both Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore are back available for selection ahead of the game and Matty Cash is also good to go after hobbling off against Wolves.

The former two in particular now give Smith some real selection headaches for the match but also headaches for Mikel Arteta who will have to prepare for numerous different scenarios.

Predicted line-up (3-4-1-2): Martinez; Konsa, Mings, Hause; Cash, Targett, McGinn, Luiz; Buendia; Ings, Watkins

Score prediction:Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa.

Despite Arsenal’s impressive recent form, Smith seems to have Mikel Arteta’s number. I spoke about the ‘inconsistent’ Villa and well I think, from a claret and blue perspective at least, that the right one will turn up on Friday.