Aston Villa Top-four Charge Gets Arsenal Test

Aston Villa Top-four Charge Gets Arsenal Test

Mikel Arteta and Arsenal look to strengthen their place atop the Premier League table when old friend Unai Emery and Aston Villa welcome the Gunners to Villa Park today

The Gunners have won four-straight matches since losing 1-0 to Newcastle, summiting the division after 15 matches and bidding to dethrone three-time defending champions, Manchester City.

Next up is City’s most recent opponent, Aston Villa, who is making a top-four charge this season while also advancing into the knockout rounds of the Europa Conference League.

This has all the ingredients of a beauty, though Arsenal has a further day’s rest than the the Villans heading into the contest. Can Ollie Watkins and his Villa give joy to Emery against his former club?

Taking on the most recent team to conquer them at Villa Park in the Premier League, Aston Villa host table-topping Arsenal in today’s mouth-watering West Midlands affair.

Both clubs marched to dramatic one-goal successes in midweek, as Unai Emery’s crop bested Manchester City 1-0, while the Gunners produced one of their trademark late comebacks in a pulsating 4-3 beating of Luton Town.

Two months ago, Arsenal overcame a Rodri-less City 1-0 thanks to a deflected second-half winner, and ex-Gunners head coach Emery appeared to take several leaves out of the Gunners’ book when the treble winners stepped foot onto the Villa Park turf on Wednesday evening.

Emery had gone 13 managerial meetings without getting one over Pep Guardiola, but the latter’s side were dominated in all facets of the game – besides the possession counter – and the hosts would not be left to rue a plethora of missed chances, as Bailey’s strike took a significant nick off of Ruben Dias and nestled into the net.

Besides two quickfire chances for Erling Haaland, who was denied well by another erstwhile Arsenal man in Emiliano Martinez, an off-colour Man City cut timid figures in the West Midlands and deservedly travelled home empty-handed, as Emery’s vivacious Villa revelled in a magnificent 14th Premier League home win in a row.

A 15th straight success this season would mark a new overall club record for the Lions, who have leapfrogged City into third place in the table and are threatening to upset the title apple cart, also possessing just a two-point disadvantage to Liverpool and a four-point gap to upcoming foes Arsenal.

As unbridled bedlam erupted at Villa Park, it was easy to overlook the significance of Wednesday’s victory defensively, as Emery’s side ended a 10-game run without a clean sheet against the mediocre champions, but a sterner test surely awaits today.

Not one Premier League team has come away from Luton’s humble Kenilworth Road proudly claiming to have dominated the Hatters, and a permeable Arsenal felt the full force of a Rob Edwards team with nothing to lose on Tuesday, conceding three to their newly-promoted visitors.

David Raya did not cover himself in glory for two of those efforts, but the Spaniard’s blushes were spared by Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, the revitalised Kai Havertz and Declan Rice, whose last-gasp header seven minutes into stoppage time found the bottom corner in front of the exultant travelling fans.

Already synonymous with exhilarating injury-time comebacks, Arsenal’s inspiring seven-goal success ensured that the Gunners would maintain their two-point advantage over Liverpool at the top of the standings, while also stretching their winning sequence in all tournaments to six matches.

However, with Liverpool in action at 12.30pm versus Crystal Palace, the Gunners could be bumped down to the silver medal position by the time the first whistle blows at Villa Park, where no Premier League team has overcome the Lions since Mikel Arteta’s men themselves.

On that fateful day in February, Arsenal produced one of their quintessential turnarounds to prevail 4-2 – thanks in no small part to a bizarre own goal from Martinez – and the Gunners have now overcome their hosts in each of their last four contests as they endeavour to finally spoil the Villa Park party.

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