ASTON VILLA welcome Arsenal for Tuesday night's Premier League fixture. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal | Tuesday 21st July 2020, 20:15 | Sky Sports
Arsenal face a quick turnaround from their FA Cup heroics when they face-off against relegation threatened Aston Villa on Tuesday, looking to record three wins in a row to finish the last week of the Premier League season strongly.
Mikel Arteta’s men put in their best performance of the season at Wembley on Saturday, making a top class side in Manchester City look very average for the entirety of the game, a world away from their display against the same opposition just a few weeks ago.
Wins over the top two in the last week will have given the Spanish manager a tremendous deal of confidence that his methods are working and that, with some new signings during the summer, the Gunners can push on next season and back into top four contention.
For Aston Villa meanwhile, time is quickly running out on their top flight journey unless they can pull off a big couple of results and hope that Watford and Bournemouth produce nothing in their respective games.
There’s been no lack of effort or desire from the Birmingham-based club throughout the season but the chances of them joining their city rivals back in the Championship next season have been growing by the game. Whilst the team have improved defensively, the lack of creativity at the top of the pitch in the second half of the campaign, teamed with injuries to key players at points during the season has been the club’s downfall.
Grealish to step up?
One man that has had the weight of pressure on his shoulders is star man Jack Grealish. Should Villa go down, it’s almost certain that the attacking midfielder will depart for one of the top four but if he’s going to go down, he’ll go down trying.
We saw in Villa’s last match against Everton that Grealish was very much in the mood to take the game by the scruff of the neck, registering five shots – his joint highest game total of the season. In this match, Grealish is 13/8 with Paddy Power to have three or more shots which appeals given Villa’s desperate situation.
The home side simply have to attack here and should be getting a few shots away. With so much of the play of Dean Smith’s men coming through Grealish, he’ll likely have chances to test Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez who’s been a busy man in recent games.
Something else I’ve spotted with Grealish this season is his tendency for a card when the frustration, brought about by Villa’s poor results and the fact he’s the most fouled player in the league, tends to boil over.
Six of the Villa skipper's eight cards this season have come in the second half and extraordinarily, four of those six have been in stoppage time. Instead therefore of backing the 3/1 best price on the 24 year-old to pick up a card during the 90 minutes, I’m more tempted by the bigger 22/5 odds with BetVictor’s bet builder of him receiving a booking in the second 45 minutes.
All eight of the Villa captain’s cards have come in game where his side has lost or drawn, so if Villa are heading for another game without the three points they simply must get here, dissent could show.
A Bet Builder to consider
My final selection will be a stats based one using Bet365’s bet builder, priced at evens – Villa Over 3 Corners; Villa Over 11.5 Free-Kicks; Over 5.5 Goal Kicks for Arsenal and Under 5 Goals in the match. It’s worth a couple of points in my view.
Linked to the expected shots I mentioned, Villa should rack up a few corners in their vital need to push forward and find a way through the Arsenal backline, just like that did at Everton last weekend when they registered five on the day.
With shots will also come goal kicks for Arsenal. They’re averaging over eight per game in 2019/20 and Villa’s shot/shot on target conversion rate isn’t great, so we should see Martinez have to retrieve the ball from behind his goal a few times.
Chris Kavanagh is the man in the middle here and has given an average of 14 free-kicks to the Villans across his four matches he has officiated the Clarets and Blues this season, so 12 or more seems okay to add in. With plenty of pace in attack and midfielders who are good on the ball, Villa are fouled often and that’s likely to continue if Arsenal are aggressive in their approach again.
Unders seems a safe bet here too given it has landed in these side’s last 24 matches combined and with both sides looking fairly composed defensively in recent weeks baring the odd lapse, I don’t think there’ll be too much in this.
This is a contest Villa would love to have the fans in place for and one I think they could fall just short in but given Arsenal’s monumental efforts in the last week, I’ll avoid the outrights and stick to the prop selections instead.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal – Jack Grealish 3+ Shots (13/8 PaddyPower)
Aston Villa vs Arsenal – Jack Grealish to be Carded in the Second Half (22/5 BetVictor)
Aston Villa vs Arsenal – Aston Villa Over 3 Corners; Aston Villa Over 11.5 Free-Kicks; Arsenal Over 5.5 Goal Kicks and Under 5 Match Goals (1/1 Bet365)