Arsenal take on Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium tonight needing a win to close-in on the top four of the Premier League table.
We head into the game off the back of a 4-1 victory over Molde in the Europa League that maintained our 100 percent record in the competition and put one foot in the knockout stages with three games remaining.
It was Arsenal’s third consecutive victory in all competitions and we got back to winning ways in the league with an impressive 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend.
However, despite that victory, Arsenal still sit 10th in the table having taken 12 points from our opening seven games so Mikel Arteta desperately needs another win on home soil this evening to close the gap.
Victory over Villa would see Arsenal go level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea but we shouldn’t take the task too lightly as the Villains are a dangerous side who thrashed champions Liverpool 7-2 last month.
Arsenal suffered no fresh injury concerns following Thursday night’s win over Molde and David Luiz is in contention after coming through that game unscathed having recovered from a thigh injury.
Calum Chambers is back in full training but is still not considered fit enough to be available just yet while Pablo Mari is still a couple of weeks away from returning to fitness from an ankle problem and Gabriel Martinelli isn’t due to resume full training until later this year.
Arsenal should make plenty of changes this evening as the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin, Gabriel, Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney are set for recalls after not starting against Molde.
As for Aston Villa, they’ll be without Bertrand Traore due to a knock so he joins Tom Heaton and Wesley on the sidelines. Emi Martinez will face Arsenal for the first time since leaving the club in the summer.
Arsenal have been inconsistent this season, winning four and losing three of our seven league games, but the victory at Old Trafford could be a turning point as it will give the players plenty of confidence.
Villa have also been up and down as they started the campaign superbly but have lost their last two games against Leeds and Southampton so it will be interesting to see how they perform tonight.
Our defence has looked solid this season so hopefully we’ll have enough firepower to see-off Villa. I’m predicting a 2-0 win. Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa
Arsenal are the 13/20 favourites with the bookmakers to win the game tonight. You can back the draw at 16/5 and a Villa win at 4/1 but I’m confident Arsenal will ease to victory this evening.
My prediction of 2-0 is available at odds of 15/2 and that looks like a terrific bet. If we add Aubameyang as first goal-scorer in a 2-0 then we can get excellent odds of 24/1.