GN5’s Arsenal v Villa Preview | Starting 11: TOX in Middle, PAS in Attack

Historical Preview of Arsenal v Aston Villa September 22, 2019


Aston Villa Football Club was formed in March 1874, by members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in Handsworth which is now part of Birmingham. The four founders of Aston Villa were Jack Hughes, Frederick Matthews, Walter Price and William Scattergood. Aston Villa’s first match was against the local Aston Brook St Mary’s Rugby team. As a condition of the match, the Villa side had to agree to play the first half under Rugby rules and the second half under Association rules After moving to the Wellington Road ground in 1876, Villa soon established themselves as one of the best teams in the Midlands, winning their first honour, the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1880, under the captaincy of Scotsman George Ramsay.

See the source image

They have played at their home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa was one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888 and of the Premier League in 1992. Villa is one of only five English clubs to have won the European Cup, in 1981–82. They have also won the Football League First Division seven times, the FA Cup seven times, the League Cup five times, and the UEFA Super Cup once.

Villa has a fierce local rivalry with Birmingham City and the Second City derby between the teams has been played since 1879. The club’s traditional kit colours are claret shirts with sky blue sleeves, white shorts and sky blue socks. Their traditional club badge is of a rampant lion. The club is currently owned by the NSWE group, a company owned by the Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and the American billionaire Wes Edens.

Wembley is considered to be the spiritual home of English football, but Villa Park is a close second. Aston Villa’s home since 1897, the ground sits in the shadow of the Jacobean stately home Aston Hall and has evolved over the years into a magnificent all-seated arena with a capacity of more than 42,000. Villa’s home ground is no stranger to major events, either, having hosted matches at both the 1966 World Cup and the European Championships in 1996. It is one of a select few that has staged international fixtures over three different centuries, the first senior international taking place in 1899. In addition, it was a regular venue for FA Cup semi-finals before they were moved to Wembley. Villa Park also hosted the last-ever European Cup Winners’ Cup Final between Italian side Lazio and Spanish club Real Mallorca in 1999, as well as the 2012 FA Community Shield match when Chelsea faced Manchester City.

Here is the Division 2 standings after our very first game against Aston Villa on October 8, 1904; Woolwich Arsenal won 1-0 and our goal was scored by Bill Gooing who during his career at Arsenal (1901-1905) scored 48 goals. 


Arsenal v Aston Villa Div 1 Home Games
1 08-Oct-04 1 1 0
2 13-Apr-06 1 2 1
3 01-Apr-07 1 3 1
4 08-Feb-08 1 0 1
5 07-Nov-08 1 0 1
6 11-Apr-10 1 1 0
7 15-Mar-11 1 1 1
8 06-Jan-12 1 2 2
9 16-Sep-12 1 0 3
10 24-Jan-20 1 0 1
11 04-Sep-20 1 0 1
12 25-Mar-22 1 2 0
13 31-Mar-23 1 2 0
14 16-Feb-24 1 0 1
15 18-Oct-24 1 1 1
16 05-Apr-26 1 2 0
17 15-Apr-27 1 2 1
18 21-Jan-28 1 0 3
19 24-Nov-28 1 2 5
20 03-May-30 1 2 4
21 08-Nov-30 1 5 3
22 31-Oct-31 1 1 1
23 01-Apr-33 1 5 0
24 10-Mar-34 1 3 2
25 17-Nov-34 1 1 2
26 18-Apr-36 1 1 0
27 24-Sep-38 1 0 0
28 18-Jan-47 1 0 2
29 11-Oct-47 1 1 0
30 11-Sep-48 1 3 1
31 29-Mar-50 1 1 3
32 10-Mar-51 1 2 1
33 05-Jan-52 1 2 1
34 20-Dec-52 1 3 1
35 06-Apr-54 1 1 1
36 12-Mar-55 1 2 0
37 01-Oct-55 1 1 0
38 03-Nov-56 1 2 1
39 02-Oct-57 1 4 0
40 13-Dec-58 1 1 2
41 15-Oct-60 1 2 1
42 31-Mar-62 1 4 5
43 04-Sep-62 1 1 2
44 10-Sep-63 1 3 0
45 29-Aug-64 1 3 1
46 04-Dec-65 1 3 3
47 27-Aug-66 1 1 0
48 10-Jan-76 1 0 0
49 25-Apr-77 1 3 0
50 04-Feb-78 1 0 1
51 07-Oct-78 1 1 1
52 09-Feb-80 1 3 1
53 02-May-81 1 2 0
54 27-Mar-82 1 4 3
55 07-Dec-82 1 2 1
56 18-Feb-84 1 1 1
57 10-Nov-84 1 1 1
58 05-Oct-85 1 3 2
59 02-May-87 1 2 1
60 03-Sep-88 1 2 3
61 11-Apr-90 1 0 1
62 03-Apr-91 1 5 0
63 11-Jan-92 1 0 0
Total 33 12 18 108 76

Our home record against Villa in the Premier League is excellent:- 

Arsenal v Aston Villa EPL Home Games
1 12-Apr-93     1 0 1
2 06-Nov-93     1 1 2
3 26-Dec-94   1   0 0
4 21-Oct-95     1 0 2
5 28-Dec-96   1   2 2
6 26-Oct-97   1   0 0
7 16-May-99 1     1 0
8 11-Sep-99 1     3 1
9 14-Oct-00 1     1 0
10 09-Dec-01 1     3 2
11 30-Nov-02 1     3 1
12 27-Aug-03 1     2 0
13 16-Oct-04 1     3 1
14 01-Apr-06 1     5 0
15 19-Aug-06   1   1 1
16 01-Mar-08   1   1 1
17 15-Nov-08     1 0 2
18 27-Dec-09 1     3 0
19 15-May-11     1 1 2
20 24-Mar-12 1     3 0
21 23-Feb-13 1     2 1
22 17-Aug-13     1 1 3
23 01-Feb-15 1     5 0
24 15-May-16 1     4 0
Total 13 5 6 45 22

Overall we have played eighty seven Home league games against Villa and we have won 53 % and tied 20% so statistically the odds are on our side.

Arsenal v Aston Villa Home Games
Division 1 33 12 18 108 76
Premier 13 5 6 45 22
Total 46 17 24 153 98

My suggested starting-11 would be:-


33 thoughts on “GN5’s Arsenal v Villa Preview | Starting 11: TOX in Middle, PAS in Attack

  • GunnerN5,

    Thanks for the post. I always find your “history lessons” very educational, refreshing and fascinating. You must have a degree in History or something, 😁👍
    I like your lineup but I doubt Emery will start Mustafi, Holding, Torreira, and Saka. He’s under some (invisible) pressure and knows this home game is like a MUST WIN game so I think he will go with AMN, Sokratis, his favorite player Guendouzi, and either Ceballos or Nelson. The rest will be the same, I am guessing.

    Anyway, I posted the comment below on the previous thread not aware that TA had issued a new post.

    Aahhh, the enigma that is Unai Emery! In a relatively short amount of time at Arsenal’s helm, he has managed to generate so many differing opinions, create a very wide divide amongst Arsenal fans and various pundits, while stoically remaining faithful to his philosophy. Problem is, nobody yet fully understands what his philosophy is exactly. And if I were to guess, I’d say neither do the players. We don’t really know what to expect so we are all stuck in limbo, unsure. At least with Arsene Wenger (latter years), we could all expect some really shitty defending (with a few pleasant surprises and good luck here and there every once in a while) but at the same time, we could also count on some fantastic/glorious, crowd-pleasing attacking moves resulting in beautiful goals (Jack Wilshere’s sensational goal against Norwich City easily comes to mind). With Emery, we have no clue. Personally, I am thinking this could partly be related to language/communication issues. And if so, then my suggestion would be to find a way to bridge that gap by bringing in a top notch defensive assistant coach who is fluent in both English and Spanish.

    I remember Emery saying during his very first press conference after being hired on that he intends to play a very high tempo, high pressing game, and be a protagonist. So far this young season, I’ve yet to see any that. I’ve noticed that when we try to press the opponent in their own half, there is no cohesion at all. We don’t press as a well-drilled unit. You may see one or two players pressing and everyone else is standing way the f*ck off, not to be bothered. Maybe with our returning defensive reinforcements, we can now gain some much-needed confidence and actually press as a team and cut passing lanes. Also, I’d like Emery to not be afraid to make adjustments during the game if things are not going so well, like playing out of the back at all costs (we got so many warning signs against Watford before Sokratis’ gift that Emery simply ignored). I’d be very happy to see both of these scenarios occur but I know, it’s only wishful thinking on my part… 😥

    Aston Villa on Sunday will be very telling! Under normal circumstances, I’d say 3 or 4-nil to the Gunners but with Emery and this team, I’m too much of a big chicken to dare. Too many heartbreaks, I suppose.

  • Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney both played just over an hour as they made their returns from injury in Arsenal Under-23s’ 2-2 draw away to Wolves on Friday night.

    Bellerin has been sidelined since January, when he suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament against Chelsea.

    Tierney, meanwhile, joined Arsenal from Celtic in the summer but hadn’t played since May because of a hip problem.

    Both players came through the game against Wolves unscathed and were withdrawn in pre-planned changes in the 63rd minute, with Zak Swanson and Tobi Omole entering the fray.

    When Bellerin and Tierney are fully fit it is expected that they will be the Gunners’ first-choice full-backs, and there availability will be a huge boost to Unai Emery, whose side have endured many defensive problems in the early stages of the season.

    After the game Tierney took to Instagram to thank Bellerin for helping him to settle in at the club.

    He wrote: ‘Verified Class to be back! Congrats on your comeback @hectorbellerin and thanks for helping me settle in! FBU’.

    Bellerin and Tierney came through the game unscathed as they edge closer to a full return

  • Gino.
    Emery is a complete enigma to me, I really admire his levels of energy and his dedication to his job; however the teams performances leave me both baffled and disappointed. I think you are right in pointing out the communication issue.

    Joe Willock is on record for saying that he does not understand UE’s instructions and praises Freddie for being more helpful:-

    “Freddie is not only such a legend at the club, he’s an unbelievable manager and coach,” Willock said earlier this season. “He’s a mentor for me, he showed me a lot behind the scenes that people don’t really know about.

    “Every day I’m working with him and I’m learning from him. He has improved me a lot and I’m just trying to get better every day.

    “To be honest, he’s improved my whole overall game. If I’m being specific, getting in the pockets when I’m playing No.10 and attacking at No.8.

    “He showed me a lot of different tactics to get space and turn to attack other teams. Those are the main things really.”I think it was

  • N5, you’ve done it again. 🙏 Strange that I have never heard anybody talk about Sir Stanley Mattews. He was the biggest world famous English football name long before the Bobby Charltons and the Jimmy Greaves of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team. One of these interlulls, I will be thrilled to hear of him from you, if you don’t mind.

    I like your team but Emery is not likely to field that.

    To me formations are there for adaptability. Either to adapt to the opposing team or to adapt to the players available to the coach.

    If I was Emery I wouldn’t bother to adapt to Villa (with all respect) so I would be left to choose a formation that would suit the players available to me. Kolasinac and Niles are no full backs. Everybody knows this. Just a few days ago Niles himself said that he is very much still learning the trade there. We know that both are much better going forward. The back-3 is begging to be used which again is said to suit Luiz better.

    Many think that the back three is not sufficiently offensive. It is not true. It all depends on how the wing backs are more utilized. Utilized more offensively it becomes a more offensive formation and vice versa.

    Kolasinac as a full back but always high up the field with little desire to trackback leaves our left rear open invariably drawing our central defender or a central midfielder to it as the opposition attacks from that side. Once any of them are drawn out of position the whole defensive structure is violated. These are the major reasons why I’d opt for a back-3.

    I was suprised when Holding did not start at Frankfurt. Maybe Emery has pencilled him for the Villa game.

    This is my team


    I never like the Xhaka/Guendz partnership. To me it’s a choice of one or the other and because Xhaka played on Thursday he’d be rested.

    Bench : Martinez, Mustafi, Xhaka, Willock, Ceballos, Nelson, Saka.

  • I’ve just read an interview with our youngster Bukayo Saka post Frankfurt game that picked my interest. Saka said among other things:

    “In training every day, he (Emery) is always helping… I feel like I have learned so much playing in his team and I’m happy that he put his faith in me… Freddie (Ljunberg) is very supportive of me. Sometimes when I don’t understand when the coach is trying to communicate with me, I have a better communication with Freddie sometimes. He speaks better English.”

    Like I have said before, I think Emery is a hard worker and wants to do well by his players and club but there could be some communication barriers due to the language issue. I wonder how many players don’t fully understand him sometimes or most of the times…?

  • During the 1980’s Stanley Matthews lived in Burlington Ontario, which was only about 650kms from where I was living. I was with my wife in a shopping mall in Burlington and there walking right towards me was the man himself – he was very gracious and chatted for a few minutes, it was before the days of selfies so no pictures.

    My family watched this game on my Uncle’s 9″ black and white TV. (we couldn’t afford one)

    The 1953 FA Cup Final, also known as the Matthews Final, was the eighth to be held at Wembley Stadium after the Second World War. The football match was contested between Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers, with Blackpool winning 4–3. The match became famous for the performance of Blackpool winger Stanley Matthews, after whom it was nicknamed. It is the only FA Cup Final to feature a hat-trick, scored by Blackpool’s Stan Mortensen. Blackpool were making their third FA Cup appearance in six years having been losing finalists twice, in 1948 and 1951.

    In February 2010, the boots worn by Matthews in the match were auctioned at Bonhams in Chester for £38,400, to an undisclosed buyer and in November 2014 Matthews’ winning medal was sold for £220,000. The match ball fetched £5,250 in 2018.

  • Gino, so it appears that communication is an issue – they should hire a linguist to translate the technical side of the game.

  • There again, Pepe seems not to be fitted to the inside right position. He likes to drive forward and cut inside. In which case his ideal position is wide right. This demands a 4:2:3:1 or 4:3:3

    Kola, though not a full back has no replacement so plays. Niles gives way to Chambers or Musti.

    Line up


    This is more like Emery’s team.

  • I, really not very good at predicting line ups Pony, mine are really nothing more than a wish list.
    Several of you are very aware tactically – it’s just not my forte.

  • N5, man … you met him in person! He once came to Nigeria and played a charity match with a local team. His action picture was front page the next day. I treasured it.

  • N5, I like your line up. And it’s not always only tactics. There is even politics also. Musti at the Emirate? Not so soon. They might not even have planned to sell him. All the criticisms from the fans had floored his value and you know there is always a finger on the financial pulse. He’d be reintroduced more surreptitiously I suspect. Again Saka who played on Thursday ahead of Nelson could damage Nelson permanently. So many things to juggle. Though from outside we cannever know all.

  • N5 .. in this Information Age there are no more living legends. Certain things are better left for the imagination.

  • Gino .. what I find a bit baffling with Emery’s English is that despite his obvious limitation he just keeps producing words. It’s almost as if he is trying to cover his limitations with a flurry of words. Pochettino, for example, uses few words but chooses them carefully. With him you can see a greater effort to bring out more accurately what he wants to say. Anybody who has a smattering of another language will understand what am trying to bring out. So does he even talk rudimentary sense?

  • It’s almost like Emery has invented his own English. As somebody said, I would like to hear a Spanish speaking person comment on how Emery communicates in Spanish.

  • PE,
    Yes, Emery does utilize and mangle a whole bunch of words to basically say nothing concrete. I think he tries too hard to explain himself and since he can’t fully do that yet, he perhaps thinks that people will pick up what he’s saying from his collection of words. Maybe going short and simple until he is able to master the English language could do him some good. Unless that is just the way he generally speaks whether in Spanish, French, or English. Either way, I think he needs a bilingual or a multilingual assistant coach to help him communicate with the players.

    Spurs just lost to the Foxes 1-2. Can we capitalize on this tomorrow, please? We failed miserably last weekend, so a repeat scenario must be avoided. Period!

  • GN5, first sir, want to continue to express my pleasure in your journeys through Arsenal’s past. Thanks!

    Gino, GN5– when Emery was hired, one of the conversations here at the time had been the issue of a potential language barrier. More for creating a ‘degree of difficulty’ (in parlance of competitive diving) to the already daunting task of following in the footsteps Le Prof; a nuanced linguician.

    The more I learn about Raul Sanllehi? More I’m of the mind that Emery is, in fact, a transitional manager. Here to perform a role, once fulfilled, replaced.

    It’s not really about his level of communicating anymore. Not Emery’s project either.
    Seems it’s always been Sanllehi’s– and Unai Emery is Act I. The opening act for a larger production.


  • Watching City toy with Watford (5 goals in 18 minutes)?
    Is how a good manager reinvigorates his club after a disappointing loss a week ago– against a supposed much-lesser opponent (Norwich).

    Was hoping that Watford would scrap against City as they had in stretches against our team. Pep had taken the desperate step of starting Fernandinho at CB today. Thinking we’d have an opportunity to gauge his decision. But alas…


  • Watching Man City completely dismantle Watford (5-nil in just 17 little minutes), just pisses me off even more because we let Watford get away with it last weekend.

    Man City is just playing unbelievable, out of this world! And Watford is a big pile of 💩. I won’t be shocked with a 10-nil score line at all with still so much time left to be play.

    Aguero with a big chance! Noooo…. Watford is an embarrassment to the Premier League. This is a humiliating rampage! It’s like playing a FIFA2019 video game or something. City should have been up 8 or 9-nil by now. WOW!!! What a f*cking disgrace!

    Should have imposed our game on them and demolished them to bits last weekend instead of treating them like some kind of a top team. F*^king piece of shit. Arrggghhh…! Can you tell that I am still very annoyed, a week later? 😖😖😁😁

  • I want to apologize to any Watford fan by chance reading my previous comments. I shouldn’t have said Watford is an embarrassment to the PL, a disgrace, and pile of 💩. My raw emotion from our draw against them got the better of me and I think I was too harsh on them. I should know better. This is football, teams sometimes have bad days. I clearly remember our 8-2 drubbing at Old Trafford a few years ago. So my apologies to anyone offended.

    Truth is when City are in the mood and playing like this, there’s no team in the PL right now (except maybe Liverpool) that can compete with them. Not at this level. Watford was shell shocked for the first 20 minutes. Maybe their new Manager will bring them back to life in the second half and give City a decent game. I doubt it but anything is possible.

  • GN5. As always informative and entertaining.

    I am hoping for us to line up with a back 3 including Mustafi, though I doubt he will start. In the past when a player has been the butt of the fans ire (Song/Eboue etc) they have resurrected their careers away from the Emirates, perhaps Mustafi will do the same because he is a decent player who has lost confidence. One doesn’t play at every age level for Germany and achieve 20 caps being a hopeless CB.

    More of that tomorrow but just to say … Any Saturday which starts with a Spurs loss is already a fine day, a win tomorrow and it will be a terrific weekend

  • Emery gets a pass.
    Had the City v Watford match been played prior to ours?
    Have little doubt– he’d be out tomorrow.


  • Even you, J-dub?…

    If you believe that Emery is a “transitional” manager (under Raul’s grand scheme…) then why would he be out (sacked, right?…) based on a game which we aren’t even playing. A point on the road (even at Watford) is a good point. We are not trying to compete with ManCity… (Who, by the way, only took 3 points from their last two league games) Our goal is to top the mid-table by getting enough points against the lower teams, splitting points with our rivals–and working on our plans for those matches when we play the likes of the better teams–City, Pool, Totts–the latter of which we also got a point against(!!)

    Emery is playing a long-term game, with Raul playing an even longer term one. I would think the (smarter) watchers would know that anything (including humiliating scorelines–or half-time adjustments by new managers who have the home support still on their side–not to mention beautiful beards…) can happen in any given match.

    Let’s not be slaves to the moment, as a great man (Wenger) might’ve said…

  • Tomorrow’s match is NOT on television…

    As crap as Arsenal are–and the fact that the NBC Sports Gold package is NOT available in other countries (where I hope to spend much of my winter)… I’m not going to plunk down the $50 in order to get the match…i.e., there will be no live-blog (from me, at least)…

    Now I can do it like (most) everybody else…just follow the scoreline and be either happy (and a believer in all things at the Emery-ates) or sad and want the great (over) thinker out…

    Big (Huge, pivotal, decisive, etc., etc…) game then, I guess… 😉

    But I’m still not buying it… 😦


  • Oh, forgot to mention… Another fine historical look at the rivalry, GN5…

    Do we need a bit of info about the state of each club/team coming into the match? Maybe, maybe not (and what do I care if I can’t be arsed to pay and watch?)… Are these matches available (at least in the pubs…) in England (or maybe I should say, Scotland…)? Do we actually have ANY regulars here who live in England?… 😮

    I’m less afraid when playing at home (despite our home support mostly having a “here we are now entertain us” attitude) but these teams that win a lot in the lower division tend to play with a bit more aggression (or at least less scar tissue) early in their first season back up than the lower table teams that have been staying up while losing a ton (tonne?…) of their matches… Witness Norwich City taking down (8-nil in the league, 3-nil in midweek, giants) ManCity just last week…

    Will Arsenal set out to attack–or is the plan to stick with the 4 Ps? (Pointless Possession Please Press…) My guess is the latter… I think we’ll see plenty of rotation from the Thursday night match in Germany… I’m guessing 7 changes…Or the same group that started (and allowed Watford to claw back a draw) last Sunday… Again, 😮 …

    AMN, Sok, Luiz, Kolasinac
    Guendo, Xhaka
    Pepe, PEA, Ceballos

    Bench = Martinez, Chambers, Torreira, Willock, Saka, Nelson, Martinelli

  • In Canada DAZN has the rights to the EPL, CL and EL. Every single game in each of the competitions is shown live, the cost is a reasonable $20.00 a month or $150.00 per year.



    Arsenal have won six consecutive league and cup games against Aston Villa, keeping a clean sheet in each of the last five.

    Villa have won three Premier League away games at Arsenal, a tally exceeded only by Manchester United and Chelsea (both have four victories).


    Arsenal have lost just one of their last 20 Premier League home games (W15, D4), with the solitary defeat coming against Crystal Palace in April.

    They have recorded one clean sheet in their last 10 league matches, conceding two goals or more in six of those games.

    The Gunners have made 14 errors leading directly to Premier League goals since August 2018, more than any other side.

    They have also conceded a joint-league high 10 penalties since the start of last season, including three in the current campaign.

    Since Unai Emery took charge, Arsenal have faced an unrivalled 47 Premier League shots after losing possession within 40m of their own goal.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored in the last seven league games he has started at the Emirates Stadium.

  • Simple HT. The club has squeezed every bit of requisite Emery out of the tube. Bottom line? I am convinced Emery’s accomplished all he can for the club– hitting his ceiling here. Why should I be convinced that Raul should keep him LONGER– if this is the case.

    Tell me then ‘smarter watcher’– what else is needed from Unai? Where do you think he can take the club? How will he make the players any better than they’re showing– after 60-some-odd matches of his direction?

    Optimistically, like to think of eventual upsides. Just can’t envision one that leads to Emery’s best efforts– satisfying both a return to CL, and, making the best use of Arsenal’s most talented skill sets. A scenario he faced last season, making mostly good decisions. Until the club– just withered in the last month. Then came Chelsea in the EL

    “Unai Emery can lead the club to a PL title in 4 years.”
    If it seemed substantiated by anything witnessed since March– I’d be waiting patiently for it all to come together. It’s not even close. It’s been nothing but regression for the last five months. Emery has bottled every clutch opportunity on offer.

    The outlook for Emery managing Arsenal into a title chasing club by end of next season? Next to nil. Though (IMO) there’s a nucleus here that could be developed. Why waste these careers with Emery’s limited capacities? If you’re convinced Emery is the right guy to expend the careers of what could be a brilliant strike force? I’m all ears as to why.

    If Emery sees out the season? I’ll go on record– that Arsenal don’t match last season’s point total (70). Also wouldn’t mind HT– hearing why: “Now is not the time to make a change”.


  • I never conclude even if I sometimes sound conclusive. Am always speculating, probing, revising, like all of life, evolving. “Protagonist, intensity, pressing” … does Emery say things without meaning them? Or did he say the above to throw everybody off the scent? One thing though he said that looks he’s working hard to achieve is the 5-4 score line, when I think of the number of shots we concede.

    He impresses me as one hell of a tough guy who’s at home playing at the edges. The sort who bets a fortune on the double zero!

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