21y/o starts, Lacazette out – My Arsenal line-up vs Villa

By on March 18, 2022

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Arsenal will be looking to get back to winning ways when we take on Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday. This is the line-up I’d like to see Mikel Arteta select for the match…

Aaron Ramsdale was at fault for the Liverpool opening goal in midweek but it was a rare mistake from Arsenal’s No.1. He’s vitally important to how we play so he should keep his place ahead of Bernd Leno.

Takehiro Tomiyasu remains a doubt for the trip to Villa Park. The Japan international is back in training but Arteta says the club are being cautious with him as they don’t want to risk another set-back. With the international break coming up after this game, it seems foolish to rush Tomiyasu back so Cedric Soares can retain his place at right-back.

I don’t think there should be any changes to the Arsenal defence so Kieran Tierney will continue at left-back while Ben White and Gabriel will also keep their places. The centre-backs will have been disappointed to concede twice on Wednesday but hopefully they can lead us to another clean sheet tomorrow.

Thomas Partey should continue in the holding role. He was partially at fault for the goal against Liverpool but he’s been outstanding lately. Granit Xhaka should also keep his place along with Martin Odegaard. The Norwegian international missed a glorious chance to open the scoring on Wednesday but he’s become a vital part of this Arsenal team.

Lacazette out

Bukayo Saka will retain his place on the right side of attack while Gabriel Martinelli should also start. The Brazilian was outstanding against Liverpool and gave Trent Alexander-Arnold all sorts of problems. I’ve seen suggestions he’ll be rested against Villa but I think that would be a massive error. We have to win this game and Martinelli is one of Arsenal’s best players at present.

However, I do think we need to find a way to get Emile Smith Rowe back in the side. The 21-year-old is fit again and I’d like to see him given a chance in a false 9 role tomorrow. Alexandre Lacazette missed a glorious chance on Wednesday when it was still 0-0 and you get the feeling we might have won the game if we had a world class striker.

Smith Rowe obviously isn’t the long-term answer, but I think he could be an interesting option up top for now. Lacazette needs a rest anyway so he can be on the bench along with Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah.

Here is the side I hope we see:

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