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Back over 3.5 goals for Aston Villa vs Arsenal in the Caesars sportsbook.
Steven Gerrard has put together a strong attacking unit and the Gunners have improved going forward too.
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Over the last 12 Premier League matches, only Manchester City and Liverpool have accumulated more points than Arsenal.
The Gunners have been defeated twice in that run – a 2-1 loss to Manchester City and a 2-0 reverse against Liverpool on Wednesday. Therein lies the issue. Arsenal have made huge strides under Mikel Arteta and remain in a strong position in the race for the top four. But they still have a long way to go before they are ready to compete for the Premier League title.
That is understandable. Finishing fourth and qualifying for the Champions League would be an overachievement for Arsenal this term. Few expected them to be in this position with 10 matches to go. The Gunners lead Manchester United by one point but still have two games in hand on the Red Devils. Tottenham Hotspur, who are a further two points back, have also fulfilled more fixtures than Arsenal.
There were certainly positives for Arteta to take from his team’s display against Liverpool in midweek. Arsenal were the better team in the first half. They pressed with conviction and forced Jurgen Klopp’s side back. The only thing missing was the creation of clear-cut chances.
The first of those arrived early in the second half, but Martin Odegaard was unable to capitalize. Moments later Diogo Jota put Liverpool 1-0 up. That is what the very best teams do: hang in there when they are not playing well, then deliver a sucker punch once they have stabilized.
It is important that Arsenal do not dwell on the defeat by Liverpool. There is no shame in losing to Klopp’s charges. But the Gunners must bounce back immediately.
Another loss here would leave the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham licking their lips as the race for the Champions League intensifies.
Aston Villa’s owners have ambitions of being in that competition one day, but their European ambitions are on hold for now.
The best they can hope for is a top-half finish, and Villa remain in ninth place despite a 2-1 defeat by West Ham United last time out. That loss at the London Stadium came after a run of three consecutive wins, which in turn followed a run of just one victory in seven matches.
Achieving greater consistency is the next item on Gerrard’s to-do list. It might take until next season for the former Rangers boss to fully get his ideas across. By then he will have also benefited from another transfer window, which will allow him to shape the squad more to his liking.
There is plenty to be encouraged about already, though. Gerrard has given Villa a tactical discipline that was missing under Dean Smith. After much tinkering, he has settled on a productive attacking unit with Philippe Coutinho in behind Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins. Jacob Ramsey, a box-to-box midfielder, seems to get better with each passing game. Villa are moving in the right direction.
If you are not sure whether this game is worth waking up early for, there is reason to believe it will be an entertaining encounter.
As mentioned above, Villa have become an exciting team to watch with a thrilling front three of Coutinho, Ings and Watkins, The latter duo are different types of strikers but both are extremely effective on their day. Thanks in part to Gerrard’s arm-around-the-shoulder man-management, Coutinho has recaptured his Liverpool form after a disastrous spell at Barcelona.
Arsenal, too, are a very fun side to watch at the moment.
Martin Odegaard is one of the most in-form players in the division. Bukayo Saka continues to get better, while Gabriel Martinelli was arguably the standout player on the pitch even as Arsenal lost to Liverpool on Wednesday. Alexandre Lacazette is not exactly prolific, but he knits everything together up front.
Prior to the defeat by the Reds, Arsenal scored at least two goals for four Premier League matches in a row. Villa, meanwhile, have found the back of the net 10 times in their last four games, including a 4-0 thrashing of Southampton in their last match in front of their own fans.
This is a tricky match to call, which is why we are steering clear of betting the moneyline. Instead, back over 3.5 goals in what promises to be an exciting game full of chances at both ends.
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|Aston Villa vs Arsenal Information|
|Teams||Aston Villa vs Arsenal|
|Location||Villa Park, Birmingham, England|
|Time||Saturday, 19 March 2022, 08.30 AM EST|
|How to watch||USA Network|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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