Arsenal vs. Aston Villa Premier League Odds, Pick, Preview: How to Fade Struggling Gunners (Oct. 22)

Arsenal vs. Aston Villa Premier League Odds, Pick, Preview: How to Fade Struggling Gunners (Oct. 22) article feature image
Credit:

Julian Finney/Getty Images. Pictured: Mikel Arteta.

  • Arsenal looks to get back on track in the Premier League on Friday against Aston Villa.
  • The Gunners have drawn two straight matches, while Villa hopes to be healthy for this one.
  • Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the betting value in the matchup and makes his pick below.

Arsenal vs. Aston Villa Odds

Arsenal Odds -105
Aston Villa Odds +295
Draw +270
Over/Under 2.5 (-115 / -105)
Day | Time Friday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch NBCSN | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Arsenal and Crystal Palace played to a thrilling 2-2 draw on Monday afternoon to conclude Matchweek 8 of the Premier League season, as the Gunners’ stoppage-time equalizer prevented an embarrassing defeat at home in a London derby.

Arsenal will also kickoff Matchweek 9 on Friday when Aston Villa — fresh off a 3-2 collapse defeat to rivals Wolves — visits North London. The Gunners lost their first three matches in the league by a combined nine goals, then won three in a row. Now, two consecutive draws have halted any potential progress under maligned manager Mikel Arteta.

Aston Villa may not have star man Jack Grealish anymore, but the Villans have replaced him by committee and pose a dangerous threat on the counterattack to a vulnerable Arsenal side.

Villa is undervalued here away from home and should be able to take at least a point at The Emirates on Friday.

How Good Is Arsenal This Season?

Arsenal wasn’t as bad as the narrative suggested after injuries and two difficult fixtures against Chelsea and Manchester City left it with zero points and zero goals through three matches. The Gunners also weren’t back just because of wins against Norwich City, Burnley and Tottenham.

It’s simply not clear what the true level of this Arsenal team is.

The Gunners attack is fifth in shots per 90, but just ninth in big scoring chances and 13th in xG per 90. Their average shot quality is among the lowest in the league and their average shot distance is among the longest in the PL. They are extremely slow in build-up play and lack cutting edge to create high-quality chances.

Against an Aston Villa side happy to concede low-quality chances and allow excellent goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez make saves on any needed long-range attempts, this game sets up for periods of Arsenal possession that leads to very little production. Villa concedes few high-quality chances and lots of shots from distance.

Defensively, Arsenal has looked vulnerable in transition, as evidenced by Crystal Palace’s success in winning the ball high up the pitch and scoring the second goal to go ahead. Arsenal’s total pressures, pressure success rate and ball recoveries are all really low for a team that wants and needs to have the ball, and Villa should face little resistance in its direct attacks.

The biggest injury note for the Gunners is that Bukayo Saka returned to training on Thursday after coming off early against Palace. The Englishman suffered a knock at the foot of James McArthur and was replaced at halftime on Monday. Thursday was his first day back in training, which puts his status for the game in doubt.

Grealish’s Exit Forces Aston Villa to Adapt

The loss of Grealish is evident in almost all of Aston Villa’s attacking numbers. The Villains were the darlings of the first half of the 2020-21 season as Grealish’s leap to elite PL player dragged the Villa attack with him.

The regression began when Grealish got hurt in the second half of the season and has continued throughout the start of the 2021-22 season. But Villa is much more solid defensively with an excellent goalkeeper, a settled center-back pairing and improved set piece defense after leaking goals in 2019-20 and nearly being relegated.

Villa has a top-eight defense in crossing, box entries, ball recoveries and passes per defensive action. The Villans apply pressure at the right time and know how to prevent high-quality chances. They’ll allow plenty of possession and even shots because most of those shots are of low quality.

The Villa attack has underwhelmed with very mediocre numbers across the board, but it could have winger Leon Bailey back for this match and Emi Buendia — the top players in the Championship last year — return to the starting XI to help bolster this attack.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

These two teams played twice last season and both had very similar flows. Arsenal won the possession battle and outshot Villa in both. The Gunners had to settle for mostly low-quality chances, and Villa was able to rip them apart in transition or when defensive mistakes on the ball were made in their defensive half.

Aston Villa did the double, winning 3-0 after a dominant second half, and the Villans won 1-0 in the spring after a costly defensive error in the second minute was too much for the Gunners to overcome. It’s not a good matchup stylistically for Arteta’s Gunners and even at home, Arsenal should struggle to break down a solid defensive unit.

My projections make Arsenal +125 to take all three points in this match, and Villa +0.5 -125. Anything -115 or better on Villa to take at least a point away from home is a price worth playing for me.

Pick: Aston Villa +0.5 (-115 or better)

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