Aston Villa-Arsenal Preview
Mikel Arteta does says it will be long until Arsenal see the best of what Willian can have to offer, as the playmaker continues to build on his understanding of a slightly new role with the Gunners.
Willian joined Arsenal on a free transfer from Chelsea at the end of last season and provided two assists on his debut in a 3-0 win over Fulham in September.
While the 32-year-old has been unable to add to that tally of assists or score so far for Arsenal, Arteta has no doubt the Brazilian is approaching his best form after a stop-start opening to the campaign.
"I think he started really well in the first game against Fulham, then we changed from the three [up front] and then he had a little injury - he didn't have any time to train, he didn't have a pre-season, he was in later than the others," Arteta said ahead of Arsenal's clash with Aston Villa.
"I can see a development in the last few games, in the things I asked him to do are probably different to things that he's used to. He's getting better and we better, we all know the qualities he has and he's a great option to have."
Villa boss Dean Smith, meanwhile, lauded the form of his playmaker Jack Grealish, who has earned another England call up.
"I spoke a couple of years ago and I said that he would be judged on goals and assists, and he's improving in those aspects. He's got four goals and four assists already, so he's doing something right," said Smith, whose side have lost their last two games.
"He's working extremely hard, he stays humble and he needs to keep doing that. Our trust goes out to the international managers to manage our players appropriately."
Arsenal - Joe Willock
Willock impressed on Thursday as Arsenal claimed a 4-1 Europa League win over Molde, scoring his team's final goal - his second in as many games in the competition. His form should have earned him a place on the bench, at the very least, against Villa.
Aston Villa - Jack Grealish
Arsenal have conceded just seven league goals this term, so Grealish is likely to be crucial for Villa if they are to get a result on Sunday. Coming into this weekend's games, only Tottenham duo Harry Kane (14) and Son Heung-min (10) have been involved in more Premier League goals this season than Villa's captain (eight).
- Arsenal have won their last three home league games against Villa by an aggregate score of 12-2. However, only Chelsea (five), Manchester City and Manchester Utd (four each) have won more Premier League away games at the Emirates than Villa (three).
- Villa's 1-0 win against Arsenal at Villa Park in July ended a run of seven straight defeats against the Gunners in all competitions, across which they had conceded 23 goals.
- Arsenal lost 0-1 against Leicester in their last home league game, their first home league defeat of 2020.
Having won their first four Premier League games this season, Villa have now lost their last two. They've conceded as many goals in these two defeats as they had in their previous nine league games combined (seven).
- Arsenal have conceded fewer goals than any other Premier League side this season (seven). However, the Gunners haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their last six home league games, since beating Norwich City 4-0 in July.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended his five-game Premier League goal drought with the winning penalty at Manchester United last time out. Arsenal's captain has scored 62.5 per cent of his Premier League goals on Sundays (35 in 43 games).
Updated November 6, 2020