Arsenal vs Aston Villa preview, team news, line-ups and prediction

By on April 12, 2024


Arsenal will look to cement their place at the top of the table with a win over Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

We head into the game off the back of a dramatic, and frustrating, quarter-final first leg in the Champions League. There was a lot of expectation on Arsenal to beat a Bayern Munich side who’ve struggled domestically this season. However, many underestimated the Germans and forgot just how good a team they are in Europe.

We started very well and took a deserved lead when Bukayo Saka curled home a superb effort in the 12th minute. Ben White missed a golden chance to make it 2-0 shortly after, and that turned out to be a turning point in the game. Arsenal usually rock-solid defence was split open and a catalogue of errors led to Serge Gnabry making it 1-1. Another error from Jacub Kiwior allowed Bayern’s attack to run at Arsenal’s defence and it resulted in William Saliba bringing down Leroy Sane in the box. Harry Kane stepped up to score his customary goal against Arsenal to give Bayern a barely deserved lead.

Two uncharacteristic errors had gifted the Germans two goals from their only two shots on target. However, Arsenal rallied and found an equaliser in the 76th minute when Leandro Trossard swept home. Arsenal should then have been awarded a last minute penalty when Manuel Neuer brought down Saka in the area. Replays showed Saka had hung out his leg, but Neuer also made a clear movement towards the Arsenal attacked and initiated the contact also. 99/100 the referee would point to the spot, but on this occasion the ref waived away the protests and blew the final whistle for 2-2.

It was a frustrating end to a disappointing night. Arsenal didn’t play at their best, gifted Bayern their goals, missed a great chance to make it 2-0 and should have won it at the end with a penalty. But it was important we didn’t lose and it’s still all to play for in the second leg next week.

Arsenal must now turn focus to the Premier League as we have a huge title race on our hands. Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Man Utd meant Arsenal remain top of the table on goal difference after we beat Brighton 3-0 last Saturday evening. It was an excellent all-round performance from the boys to beat Brighton at the Amex Stadium and the title is now in our hands with seven games remaining.

That’s an amazing position to be in, and one we could only dream of after losing to Fulham on New Year’s Eve. Our form in 2024 has been spectacular as we’ve taken 31 points from 33 – only dropping two points with a draw at Man City. The important things now is to maintain the momentum and take advantage of any slip-ups from City and Liverpool.

Both our rivals have very winnable home games against Luton and Palace this weekend, and we should expect them both to pick up three points. Therefore, the likelihood is we’ll be down to third by the time we kick off so it’s vital Arsenal respond with a win over Villa to regain top spot.

Obviously we have a tough game on our hands as Villa have done terrifically well this season. However, they’ve slipped to fifth after drawing 3-3 at home to Brentford last weekend and I’m confident we can avenge the 1-0 defeat we suffered at Villa Park earlier in the season.

How to watch

Arsenal versus Aston Villa will be shown live on Sky Sports at 4.30pm on Sunday afternoon. Subscribers can follow all the action on their TV, or via the Sky Go app on mobile or tablet devices.

Match going supports can get Arsenal tickets online at the club ticket exchange or through reputable online resellers. It’s certain to be a sell-out so tickets will be hard to find.

Team news

Arsenal’s injury problems have eased in recent weeks and Mikel Arteta has virtually a fully-fit squad to choose from. Bukayo Saka has overcome a knock that kept him out of the Luton game recently to start our last two matches. He was limping during the Bayern match but it shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

Jurrien Timber is Arsenal’s only absentee. The Dutchman has been working on his fitness in training in recent weeks after recovering from a serious ACL injury. The Villa game may come too soon for him but he’s expected to make his return to action imminently.

As for Villa, they’ll be without Boubacar Kamara due to a knee injury while Emi Buendia, Tyrone Mings, Jacob Ramsey and Matty Cash are also out. Douglas Luiz will miss the game due to suspension while Clement Lenglet is a doubt with a knock.

Likely line-up

I thought Arteta got it wrong selecting Kiwior against Bayern. Oleksandr Zinchenko did well when he came on as Arsenal chased a goal but it will be a very different game at the Allianz Arena. I feel Takehiro Tomiyasu is our best option at left-back against Bayern so he should be protected this weekend. Zinchenko is probably the best option at home to Villa.

A fully-fit Thomas Partey would have been very useful against Bayern and I’d like to see him given more minutes in the second leg. This could be a great opportunity to give him another start and rest Jorginho.

Trossard was excellent off the bench on Tuesday and he may have done enough to get a start on Saturday with Gabriel Martinelli rested. I worry that Arteta has got ‘stuck’ playing with Kai Havertz up front and is too afraid to mix things up. Gabriel Jesus was superb when he came on in midweek and deserves a start this weekend.

I’d like to see:

Arsenal XI: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Partey, Rice, Odegaard, Saka, Trossard, Jesus


Arsenal are likely to be sitting third in the table when this game kicks off so the pressure will be on for us to respond. The players have managed such pressure superbly in recent weeks and I don’t expect any different here.

The performance against Bayern in midweek was disappointing, especially defensively as we’ve been so solid lately. This is an opportunity for the team to show that game was just a blip and return with a dominant display and a clean sheet.

Villa are clearly a good side and are dangerous in attack with Ollie Watkins, Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby. We’ll have to be at our best to win this game and we can’t let the return leg against Bayern enter our thoughts.

I’m backing Arsenal to put-in a professional display to beat Villa 2-0 this weekend. Arsenal 2-0 Villa