Bailey starts & Watkins finally axed, Dean Smith makes big calls: Predicted Villa XI - opinion

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Bailey starts & Watkins finally axed, Dean Smith makes big calls: Predicted Villa XI - opinion
© Provided by Football FanCast Dean Smith celebrates

With two consecutive defeats in the Premier League, pressure has started to build somewhat on Aston Villa manager Dean Smith ahead of tonight’s clash against Arsenal.

The Villans followed up an impressive 1-0 victory away at Old Trafford against Manchester United with a pair of losses against Tottenham and Wolves respectively, with the latter in particular being something of a sucker punch.

Smith’s side were leading 2-0 with just ten minutes remaining before a late collapse saw them concede three goals and somehow snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 50-year-old may duly look to change things up for the clash against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium tonight, and with that in mind, below is a look at how Villa might line up in north London.

Bailey starts & Watkins finally axed, Dean Smith makes big calls: Predicted Villa XI - opinion
© Provided by Football FanCast aston-villa-predicted-lineup-arsenal

In goal, Emi Martinez will be hoping to keep a clean sheet on his return to the Emirates, having shut the Gunners out twice last season in the Premier League as Villa pulled off the double over his former club.

Smith may opt to go with a back four against Arsenal, having seen his experiment with a back three being picked apart by Spurs and Wolves, and that could see Axel Tuanzebe drop out, as we discussed in detail.

The midfield could also see a tweak, with Jacob Ramsey in line for a start to try and match up with what Arsenal may deploy in the engine room.

Further forward, Leon Bailey’s return to fitness could see him make the starting line-up if Smith feels that he’s shown enough in training to prove his fitness. That could see the Villa boss make the bold call of dropping Ollie Watkins, who has been in poor form in recent weeks, with just one goal all season.

Predicted XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn, Ramsey; Buendia, Ings, Bailey.

Meanwhile, here’s why Villa must start this £7.2m-rated ace v Arsenal…

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