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ARS VS AST: Bukayo Saka Injury Update, Dean Smith's Record and Everything You Need To Know.

Arsenal will entertain Aston Villa in matchday nine of the 2021/2022 Premier League season at the Emirates Stadium by 8:00 PM West African Time. The Gunners will hope to close in on Manchester United who is currently three points ahead of the North London club in the Premier League table.

Arsenal will come into this fixture in the wake of a disappointing back-to-back draw against Brighton and Crystal Palace after they had recorded three consecutive wins before those two fixtures. It was a late-minute drama at the Emirates against Crystal Palace as super substitute Alexander Lacazette leveled things up deep into stoppage time. Ahead of this strong fixture at the Emirates, here are the things you should know:

- Dean Smith's Outstanding Record against Arsenal

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has the second most successful record against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium after Pep Guardiola according to Opta stats. His team has played four times against the Gunners at the Emirates and come out victorious on three occasions which are 75% win record while Pep Guardiola has a 91% win record. He will try to extend it when they visit the Emirates on Friday evening.

- Form Guide

Arsenal seems to have the edge over Aston Villa in terms of form having gone unbeaten in their last five games in the Premier League while Aston Villa has won two, lost two, and drawn one in the process. The North London club is in the 12th position ahead of Aston Villa in the 13th position with a point difference between the both of them.

The biggest win for Aston Villa was against Manchester United at Old Trafford courtesy of a late header from the Villa defender while Arsenal's biggest win was in the North London derby as they thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 3-1. Note that Aston Villa has lost three consecutive away games.

- History Recap

This fixture will be Arsenal's tenth Friday night game since the inception of the Barclay Premier League and they have lost just two of those fixtures against Everton and Brentford. Surprisingly, the Gunners have failed to score in two of those defeats with the defeat against Brentford coming in the opening match of this new season.

Also, Arsenal has lost four of their last ten meetings against Aston Villa at the Emirates with Dean Smith's boys beating them home and away last campaign. Arsenal must avoid a repeat of history as the odds seem to favor the Villa boys in the last 3years.

- Players To Watch

Arsenal's Alexander Lacazette was the savior for the North London club in their last match against Aston Villa and also put up some brilliant performance against Brighton in their stalemate draw at the Amex road. However, it is yet to be seen if Mikel Arteta will start the French man in the encounter.

The star man for the Gunners is of course their consistent goalscorer Pierre Emerick Aubmeyang who has scored three goals in his last four appearances for the Gunners. Ollie Watkins is the man to watch out for in the Aston Villa side. He scored three of the four goals scored against Arsenal last season. The Gunners must be wary of his blistering pace and craftiness in the 18-yard box.

- Bukayo Saka Injury Update

Bukayo Saka suffered a calf injury during their 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace on Monday after he was kicked on the calf by a Palace player. He was later hobbled off from the pitch at halftime as a precautionary measure. However, during the press conference on Thursday ahead of this game, Mikel Arteta gave an update regarding the youngster's injury.

He said: "We have two or three players that finished the game with some issues. Saka hasn't trained yet so we have to assess him and see how he is. It is down to the doctors and see how he recovers, see how he is today and tomorrow."

This, therefore, means that his chances of featuring in today's game are slim as his involvement in the game could lead to a more complicated case if it happens he wasn't fully fit. Arteta should consider resting him and start Nicolas Pepe or Gabriel Martinelli instead. Granit Xhaka is the only long absentee from the team and is expected back early next year.

PHOTO CREDITS: Google Images, Getty Images, Sky Sports

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