Diaby recalled and suspension blow as Aston Villa starting XI vs Arsenal predicted

Moussa Diaby could be recalled to the Aston Villa starting XI to face Arsenal
Moussa Diaby could be recalled to the Aston Villa starting XI to face Arsenal -Credit:Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Aston Villa head to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (4:30pm kick-off) in search of a result which could go a long way in their pursuit of Champions League qualification this season.

Arsenal have lost only two of their 21 home games in all competitions this season and have scored 38 goals in 15 home Premier League games this term. Mikel Arteta's side were defeated 1-0 at Villa Park back in December, but since returning from the winter break, Arsenal have won 10 of their last 11 league games, with their only draw in that time coming away at Man City.

A trip to Arsenal is a huge challenge for any side, but while the Gunners are locked in a three-way battle for the Premier League title, they may also have one eye on a huge Champions League quarter-final second leg against Bayern Munich on Wednesday. The German giants drew 2-2 in north London earlier this week.

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Villa have an important European tie next week themselves, against Lille in France. Emery's side beat Lille 2-1 at Villa Park to take an advantage to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

Douglas Luiz will be suspended for Villa against Arsenal after he collected his 10th booking of the season in the 3-3 draw with Brentford last weekend. It leaves Emery with three options to play in the double pivot: John McGinn, Youri Tielemans and Tim Iroegbunam.

The latter started in last week's defeat at Man City when Emery made wholesale changes, but the 20-year-old has only made two top-flight starts in his career. Meanwhile, Emi Martinez is set to start against his former club in front of a defence made up of Ezri Konsa, Diego Carlos, Pau Torres and either Alex Moreno or Lucas Digne.

Digne has started Villa's last three games in all competitions and has performed better than Moreno this term, but Emery could consider swapping them this weekend to freshen his XI up.

In attack, Leon Bailey and Morgan Rogers will likely remain on the flanks, while Moussa Diaby supports Ollie Watkins in attack. After bagging the opening goal against Lille on Thursday night, Watkins has now bagged 25 goals across all competitions this season.

Villa predicted XI: Martinez, Konsa, Carlos, Pau, Digne, Tielemans, McGinn, Bailey, Rogers, Diaby, Watkins.