Arsenal looks to end Aston Villa’s hopes of avoiding relegation as they fight for their own progress. Here are five key players in the match.
In case you haven’t heard, Arsenal has put together two straight matches that were the token underdog victories. A victory over Liverpool in which the Red mustered eight times the number of shots that the Gunners did, and a victory over Manchester City in which tremendous and resolute defending secured a clean sheet and a berth in the FA Cup final.
It’s all built a good deal of belief at the Emirates that was cast into such doubt after the depressing loss to Tottenham just prior—a loss that ended what hopes we had of qualifying for a Europa League berth.
All that aside, Aston Villa are next up. Villa sits just three points away from escaping the relegation zone (at least for now), and with it being Watford that they hope to trade places with, and Watford who face the Gunners in the final week of the season, Villa have a very clear path to safety.
But clarity doesn’t always mean easy, and getting through an inspired Arsenal side will be far from easy. Especially if these five key men do their parts as they’ve been doing so often lately.
Let’s dig into our five key players, starting with No. 5.
5. David Luiz
It wasn’t all that long ago that I was picking a centerback and putting him on this list because “someone has to do the job.” My logic was that whoever could screw up the least would be the key man in protecting the goal.
That’s different now. David Luiz put forth a sparkling effort against City and this is a man who runs on confidence. The fact that he held it all together against a potent attack like City’s makes me 100% confident in his ability to do the same against Villa.
That said, it’s a different kind of defending. It’s going to be defending in space, defending counterattacking, and moving. That can sometimes bite Luiz in the arse, but if he can hold up his defensive role here, we can feel confident in a clean sheet.
No. 4 next.