Arsenal travel to Villa Park for today’s crucial Premier League clash against Aston Villa.
The Gunners have won four league games on the bounce but they face their toughest challenge yet against the Villans. Unai Emery’s side have won 14 successive league games at home.
The west Midlands outfit are aiming for a club-record later today and Arsenal will be hoping to end their winning streak with three points to preserve their spot at the top of the league standings.
The Gunners are currently two points ahead of second-placed Liverpool. The Reds could temporarily go to the summit when they face a struggling Crystal Palace side on the road in the early kick-off.
David Raya made it difficult for the Gunners at Kenilworth Road in midweek. Arsenal won the game 4-3 after a dramatic 97th minute winner from Declan Rice but it should have been a routine victory.
The Spaniard made two high-profile errors between the sticks. Despite this, he is expected to continue in goal ahead of Aaron Ramsdale. Mikel Arteta spoke in support of him in the pre-match presser.
In front of Raya, there should be one change in the back four. Jakub Kiwior should make way for Oleksandr Zinchenko whose creativity from the left flank will be key against the Villans.
Zinchenko led the 4-2 comeback win over Villa in February this year, scoring the equaliser at the hour mark. Ben White, William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes are expected to start in defence.
In midfield, no changes are on the cards. Declan Rice continued his fine debut season with the Gunners with a vital winning goal. The Englishman has become a firm favourite among the fans.
He should feature in the number six position. Kai Havertz is likely to start in central midfield after a strong showing in midweek where he scored his third goal in four appearances for Arsenal.
The German was up for the physical challenge, winning several duels and it was probably his best performance in the Gunners shirt. He should get the nod over Leandro Trossard.
Martin Odegaard had a mixed outing at Luton where Ross Barkley outshined him, but the club captain eventually made his mark with a precise cross for Rice’s dramatic late winner.
The Norwegian is expected to start in his preferred number 10 role. Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus are guaranteed to make the XI. The trio have been in blistering form lately.
Jesus scored and assisted against Luton in midweek but also created the opening goal with an early throw-in into the path of Saka. The Brazilian looks to be getting back to his best.
How Arsenal could line up vs Villa
Stats from Transfermarkt.com