Having beaten the champions in midweek, can Unai Emery’s men defeat the leaders? We look ahead to Saturday’s late kick-off in the Premier League with our Aston Villa vs Arsenal prediction and preview.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal Stats: The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer is predicting another three points for Premier League leaders Arsenal, with the Gunners given a 44.8% chance of beating Aston Villa (30%).
- Villa have won 14 successive home league games for the third time in their history (also in 1903 and 1931) and could make it 15 for the first time. The last team they failed to beat at Villa Park in the Premier League were Arsenal in February.
- Kai Havertz has three goals in his last four appearances for Arsenal, as many as in his previous 32 club-level outings.
Aston Villa clinched the standout result of what has been an incredible season for the club on Wednesday, leapfrogging Manchester City to go third in the Premier League table with a deserved 1-0 win over the champions at Villa Park. Unai Emery’s team will attempt to repeat the trick against leaders Arsenal on Saturday with club history in their sights.
Leon Bailey’s deflected strike was enough to down Pep Guardiola’s lacklustre visitors as Villa matched the best home winning streak in their league history, posting a 14th successive home league victory for a third time (also in 1903 and 1931).
The last visiting team to avoid defeat at Villa Park in the Premier League? That would be Arsenal, who claimed a thrilling 4-2 win there in mid-February. That is the only defeat former Arsenal boss Emery has suffered in five managerial meetings with the Gunners, though three of those encounters have finished level.
He will want more of the same after Villa’s hugely impressive display against Man City, whose two shots attempted were the fewest ever by a Guardiola team in Europe’s top five leagues. Villa also regained possession in the final third 13 times, the most ever recorded by any team in a league game against Guardiola’s City, evidence of how their brilliant home form is breeding the confidence to go toe-to-toe with the best.
John McGinn and Douglas Luiz were crucial to those efforts as they harried City’s Rodri-less midfield, each winning possession seven times. They will likely continue alongside Boubacar Kamara and Bailey in Emery’s trusted lineup.
Further forward, Emery must decide between Youri Tielemans or Moussa Diaby in support of Ollie Watkins, whose 14 Premier League goal involvements (eight goals, six assists) have only been bettered by Erling Haaland (18) and Mohamed Salah (16) this term. Watkins also has four goals in six Premier League meetings with Arsenal, netting in two of three home games against them.
In the visiting camp, hopes are high that a 20-year wait for a league crown may finally end in 2024, with Mikel Arteta’s men displaying one of the hallmarks of champions by finding ways to win when not at their best.
Having already beaten Manchester United, Man City and Brentford with late goals this term, Arsenal enjoyed their most dramatic finish yet in midweek as Declan Rice’s header – after 96 minutes and 23 seconds – broke Luton Town hearts in a 4-3 triumph at Kenilworth Road, the latest in a series of goalfests to grace the Premier League in recent weeks.
Rice’s goal, Arsenal’s latest winner on record in an away Premier League game (since 2006-07), ensured they will enter Matchday 16 two points clear of Liverpool at the summit. It was the Gunners’ fifth 90th-minute winner in the Premier League in 2023 – the most ever recorded by a team in a single calendar year.
Arteta’s team, who had faced criticism over a drop-off in their attacking numbers, now look to be clicking into gear in the final third. Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus and Kai Havertz joined Rice in netting against Luton, with Jesus also earning plaudits for his clever assist for Havertz’s goal. The Brazilian has six goal involvements in his last five games across all competitions, both scoring and assisting in three different matches during that span.
Havertz, meanwhile, has three goals in his last four games for Arsenal in all competitions, as many as he managed in his previous 32 club appearances for them and Chelsea.
While Arteta will be delighted with his forwards, he continues to face a dilemma between the sticks, with David Raya being questioned over his role in two of Luton’s goals. According to Opta’s expected goals on target (xGOT) model, Raya has conceded 0.9 goals more than the data suggests he might have expected to in the Premier League this season. Competitor Aaron Ramsdale has fared even worse, though, conceding 1.7 more than expected in just five appearances.
A switch in goal appears unlikely for now, and Arsenal could be unchanged at Villa Park. Arteta revealed after Tuesday’s game that Takehiro Tomiyasu will miss an extended period with a calf problem, joining Fábio Vieira, Thomas Partey, Emile Smith Rowe and Jurriën Timber on the injury list.
Arteta will watch Saturday’s game from the stands, having received his third yellow card of the season – and a one-match touchline ban – for his ‘excessive celebrating’ of Rice’s winner. The Spaniard surely won’t mind getting into trouble for the same offence a few more times this term.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal Head-to-Head
Arsenal have fared well against Villa in the last couple of years, winning their last four Premier League meetings after losing the previous three in a row.
Their most recent clash was a dramatic one as Arsenal twice came from behind for their 4-2 road win in February. An own goal from former Gunners goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez put them ahead for the first time in second-half stoppage time, before Martinelli made the points safe on the break.
Arsenal have made comeback victories over Villa a habit, fighting back to win after going 1-0 down against them six times in the Premier League, something they have only done more often against West Ham (eight times) and Chelsea (seven).
Villa Park has also traditionally been a happy hunting ground for the Gunners, who have only lost on two of their last 21 league trips there (12 wins, seven defeats), though those two defeats have come in their last four visits.
Only Manchester United (38) and Liverpool (33) have more Premier League wins against Villa than Arsenal (31), while the Gunners are just two goals away from becoming the third club to hit a century against them in the competition, after United (101) and Liverpool (100).
While Villa have a perfect home record in the Premier League this season, Arsenal have won five of seven on the road (one draw, one loss), with four of those victories coming by a one-goal margin, including their last two at Brentford and Luton.
Though they upset the champions last time out, Villa are winless in their last eight Premier League games against sides starting the day top of the table (one draw, seven defeats), losing each of the last five in a row. Their last such victory came against Chelsea in March 2014, by a 1-0 scoreline.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal Opta Player Ratings
Before kick-off in this match, here are the top five performing players from both teams in the 2023-24 Premier League according to the Opta Player Ratings:
Douglas Luiz: 77.2 (out of 100)
Ollie Watkins: 75.1
Leon Bailey: 72.5
John McGinn: 71.9
Ezri Konsa: 69.2
Declan Rice: 81.8 (out of 100)
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 80.4
Martin Ødegaard: 76.8
Bukayo Saka: 75.5
Ben White: 74.9
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off on Saturday, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal Prediction
While a tough test is in store for Arsenal on Matchday 16, the Opta supercomputer predicts that the leaders favourites will earn a fifth successive Premier League win.
Of 10,000 match simulations conducted by the supercomputer before kick-off, Arsenal won 44.8%, with Villa successful in 30% of scenarios and 25.2% finishing level.
Villa’s win over City was hugely beneficial for Arsenal, as can be seen in the supercomputer’s 2023-24 predictions. The Gunners’ title hopes stood at 15.5% before the midweek fixtures, but they now top the pile in 26.4% of our season simulations, more often than Liverpool (26.2%), though City (44.7%) remain title favourites.
Villa have won 10 of their 15 league games this season, their most victories at this stage of a campaign since they were last crowned champions in 1980-81.
Another statement win would surely see their own title hopes – currently rated at 2.2% – improve further. Following midweek defeats suffered by both Tottenham and Newcastle, Aston Vila are starting to emerge as top-four favourites, finishing within the top four places, and qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, in 58.8% of simulations.