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Pundits deliver their verdict on Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Aston Villa

Arsenal will be looking to climb into the Premier League’s top five with victory against Aston Villa on Sunday.

Dean Smith’s side travel to the Emirates Stadium after a solid start to their campaign, having stayed up by the skin of their teeth last season.

The Gunners are currently one point behind fifth-placed Everton and two points off rivals Tottenham in fourth. They are level on 12 points with Villa, who are eighth, but Sunday’s opponents have a game in hand.

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Arsenal remain without long-term absentees Gabriel Martinelli, Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers going into Sunday’s match, while the visitors will be without Bertrand Traore, Tom Heaton and Wesley Moraes.

Pundits have unanimously backed Mikel Arteta’s side to earn all three points against Villa and register their fourth consecutive win in all competitions ahead of the upcoming international break.

Mark Lawrenson, BBC Sport

“I was very impressed by Arsenal at Old Trafford last weekend. They fully deserved their win and Thomas Partey already looks a force in midfield.

“After a good result like that, the Gunners need to push on and show they have eradicated the defensive mistakes that have cost them in the past. If they can stop them, then they will be right up there at the top of the table.

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“Yes, Arsenal can still improve their creativity, but manager Mikel Arteta is right to try to make them more solid first.

“Aston Villa have leaked a few goals in the past couple of weeks and I would be surprised if they manage a clean sheet here.”

Prediction: 2-0

Michael Owen, BetVictor

“Arsenal claimed an excellent victory at Old Trafford last week. Mikel Arteta set his stall out perfectly, and the Gunners will be hoping to carry that momentum into this one.

“Despite mounting a late comeback, Villa suffered defeat against…