Mikel Arteta – cutting an impressively relaxed figure given his disappointments of the last week – speaks to BT Sport. “I have given Leandro [Trossard] the chance he deserves in the starting XI … he has been impacting the team … we need some energy in the front line … I saw how they played against the best team in the world [Manchester City] but they gave the game away … the first 20 minutes we have to play really well … we need much more efficiency in both boxes … we are here [ahead of schedule and unexpectedly in the title race] and we want to make the best out of it … we can do it … we have to stick together … we need characters with mentality in difficult moments … [Unai Emery] is a top manager with a lot of solutions and he is going to make it really hard for us, that’s for sure.”
Aston Villa have lost their last two Premier League matches, against Leicester and Manchester City, so make five changes to their starting XI. Matty Cash, Tyrone Mings, Alex Moreno, John McGinn and Philippe Coutinho replace Ashley Young, Calum Chambers, Lucas Digne and Jacob Ramsey, who drop to the bench, and Leon Bailey, who misses out altogether. Coutinho is making his first league start under Unai Emery.
Arsenal make two changes to the side named for the 3-1 defeat by Manchester City. Ben White and Leandro Trossard replace Takehiro Tomiyasu and Gabriel Martinelli, who drop to the bench. Emile Smith Rowe is back on the subs’ bench.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Moreno, McGinn, Luiz, Kamara, Coutinho, Buendia, Watkins.
Subs: Sinisalo, Traore, Chambers, Young, Duran, Digne, Bailey, Dendoncker, Ramsey.
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Zinchenko, Saliba, Gabriel, White, Xhaka, Jorginho, Odegaard, Saka, Trossard, Nketiah.
Subs: Turner, Tierney, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Kiwior, Holding, Tomiyasu, Vieira, Nelson.
Aston Villa were recently beaten at home in the FA Cup by fourth-tier Stevenage; the last game played at Villa Park saw the hosts thrashed 4-2 by Leicester. That would normally give today’s title-chasing visitors great hope, but Arsenal have picked up just one point from the last nine available, and earlier this week were knocked off the top of the Premier League by the resurgent champions Manchester City. Neither team in great form, then; both teams in need of a result to get their season back on track. All the ingredients for a potential thriller? Let’s hope so! Kick off is at 12.30pm GMT. It’s on!