After nullifying the strengths of Manchester United last week, Mikel Arteta has another tough challenge on his hands as he devises a strategy to stop Aston Villa and Jack Grealish.
Arsenal beat the Red Devils 1-0 on Sunday, with Mohamed Elneny – one of the best players on the day – stating: “Mikel studied the way United played completely before the match. He is very wonderful in the point of studying the opponents before confronting them.
The Gunners restricted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men – who beat RB Leipzig by five goals to nil just four days earlier – from generating anything of note in the decisive areas of the field, and that will have to be retained once Villa visit the Emirates.
Grealish in particular appears to be the main threat held by Dean Smith, with the English talent currently experiencing a good run of form after four goals and four assists posted in the Premier League after just six matches.
Stopping the Villa talisman is likely to be central to any pre-match talk, with Arteta perhaps able to seek inspiration from Marcelo Bielsa’s approach ahead of the clash.
Leeds United faced the claret and blue outfit recently and scored three goals without reply, with Grealish failing to impact proceedings in his usual fashion as a consequence of Bielsa’s tactical template on the day.
The Leeds boss seemingly targeted Villa’s right side as a weak spot, as the 4-3-3 that Smith has been employing this season involves Matty Cash as a right-back and Trezeguet as a right-sided wide forward, with both of those players being very offensive-minded.
Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Harrison freely operated in space consistently as a result of Trezeguet’s advanced positioning, with Cash having to manage two and sometimes three players at a time, shown below.
Leeds United refrained from attacking as much down Grealish’s flank and instead opted to get forward using the opposite side of the pitch