Arsenal v Aston Villa: Fragile Gunners struggling to shine

Arsenal were distinctly underwhelming in Monday's 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, and Kevin Hatchard isn't convinced they'll perform any better against Aston Villa...

Escape against Eagles nothing to be proud of

Although they rescued a point with a last-gasp Alexandre Lacazette leveller, there was little for Arsenal fans to shout about after another baffling display in Monday's 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. Having taken an early lead through skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Gunners wasted the rest of the first half, sitting off the Eagles as if they were the Brazil side from the 1982 World Cup (ask your parents, kids).

Having handed the momentum to Patrick Vieira's side on the Frenchman's reunion with Arsenal, the hosts made a series of errors against a Palace team that became increasingly confident. They gifted the ball away for Christian Benteke's leveller, and Benjamin White (we've all been erroneously calling him Ben) backed off naively to allow Odsonne Edouard to lash the ball in off the crossbar.

Between now and the middle of December, Arsenal have to face Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton, so it feels like an important few weeks for Arteta. After the club backed him with a spending spree of over £150m, the Spaniard has to deliver this season, and the pace of change remains glacial.

Granit Xhaka remains injured, and in his absence, the pairing of Martin Odegaard and Thomas Partey in the deep midfield positions simply didn't work on Monday. Albert Sambi Lokonga is pushing for a start, while Bukayo Saka is a doubt after he was on the wrong end of a brutal challenge from James McArthur.

Collapse lays bare Villa's problems

As calamitous endings go, the conclusion of Aston Villa's game against Wolves was a bit of a doozy. Dean Smith's men had a deserved 2-0 lead with ten minutes remaining, but conceded three set-piece goals and lost 3-2. The winner was courtesy of a deflected free-kick, but the first two were eminently preventable, and Villa's defensive fragility is a consistent theme.

Villa have already conceded three goals on three occasions in the league this season, and they have leaked 12 goals in total, which is pretty much in line with their Expected Goals figure according to Infogol. Although Villa won 1-0 at Manchester United, they also lost 3-2 at Watford, 3-0 at Chelsea and 2-1 at Aston Villa.

Villa can at least take solace from their recent record against Arsenal. They have won their last three competitive meetings with the Gunners, and they haven't conceded a single goal in any of those matches.

Smith could name an unchanged line-up. Leon Bailey is still short of full fitness, while Trezeguet is definitely sidelined.

Gunners too short to take the win

Arsenal were poor on Monday, despite making an excellent start, and although they have won five of their last eight home matches, I have to oppose them at 1.97. Arteta's men have found Villa a difficult match-up in recent games, and I'm not convinced by their recent revival. It's also worth noting that Villa have had an extra two days of recovery time.

Despite Villa's defensive deficiencies, I'll lay the hosts here.

Backing goals is worthwhile

Arsenal's inconsistency in front of goal has probably inflated the price of Over 2.5 Goals to 1.93, but I fancy we'll see an entertaining clash here. Seven of Villa's last eight PL away games have featured three goals or more. Although many of the historical clashes aren't hugely relevant, it's a weird statistical quirk that the last 11 competitive meetings between these two in North London have featured three goals or more.

I don't trust either defence to stay compact and keep their concentration, so I'll happily back Over 2.5 Goals at 1.93.

Alternatively you could use the Bet Builder to double up Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score at 2.04.

Ings to strike?

Villa striker Danny Ings found the net against Wolves, and has three goals in the top flight this season. He is 2.98 to score at the Emirates, and he is 8/13 to have a shot on target. The former Southampton and Liverpool striker has been incredibly efficient so far, scoring three goals from five shots on target. It's worth noting that Arsenal are giving up an average of 4.25 shots on target per 90 in the Premier League, the eighth-worst record in the division.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains Arsenal's most dangerous striker, and he is trading at a chunky 2.42 to net his fourth league goal of the season.

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