Mark Lawrenson states his prediction for Arsenal v Aston Villa

BBC Sport pundit Mark Lawrenson is backing Arsenal to edge to a 2-1 win against Aston Villa at The Emirates on Friday night

Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta (Photo: Arsenal Media)

Mark Lawrenson is backing Arsenal to edge to a 2-1 win against Aston Villa in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Friday night.

The Gunners scored a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in north London on Monday night when Alexandre Lacazette netted his first goal of the 2021-22 Premier League season.

Arsenal edged into an early lead against Patrick Vieira’s side thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s close-range finish before Lacazette’s 95th-minute equaliser was required following goals from Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard.

Arsenal are in 12th position in the Premier League despite a run of five games without defeat since a 5-0 loss to Manchester City at The Etihad in September.

Aston Villa have made a slow start to the season following a return of 10 points from eight games to find themselves a point behind Mikel Arteta’s men in the table.

Dean White’s side squandered a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to Wolves in their last Premier League outing at Villa Park.

BBC Sport pundit Lawrenson is predicting that Arsenal will edge to a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at The Emirates on Friday night.

“Both these teams are in mid-table for a reason – there are some positives about the way they have started the season, but there are ways to get at them too,” Lawrenson told BBC Sport.

“Aston Villa suffered a late collapse against Wolves last time out, while Arsenal scraped a draw with Crystal Palace on Monday in a game that said more about where they are at the moment than their recent run of three straight wins did.

“The Gunners probably thought they had turned the corner after their poor start to the season but I don’t think that is the case. I’m going with them to win this one, but that is mainly down to them having home advantage – it is going to be another close one.”

Aston Villa have won their last three games against Arsenal and Smith’s men will be looking to become the first Villa side to secure four successive victories over the Gunners in 59 years.

Arsenal have only suffered one defeat in their last six home fixtures in the Premier League to collect a respectable 13 points under Arteta.

Arteta reassured Arsenal supporters that his players know what is required to secure a win against the Birmingham side on Friday night.

“We play at home. We know the type of game we need to play to beat them, and our focus is only that,” Arteta told his pre-match media conference on Thusday.

“If we play 4-3-3 the way we played the first 20 minutes [against Crystal Palace], we win the games, but if we start to play the way we played the following 20 minutes, it doesn’t work, because again, that is a transition game and we don’t have the players to do that when we play in that formation.

“The play in the last 20 minutes is something that we haven’t done a lot as well, but it worked because we generated what we wanted. We have to be flexible and we have to play players in their strengths and when they are not playing.

“It is a test [against Villa] and they have shown how difficult they can be against us, because we haven’t got the results that we wanted against them recently. So we know they have improved their squad, the way they have played a lot in the last few seasons they are showing a lot of ambition the way they are recruiting as well, and it will be a difficult game for sure.”

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