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Arsenal v Aston Villa Key Battles: Bukayo Saka 13/10 to Score Anytime and Leon Bailey 11/4 to Score or Assist

Arsenal and Aston Villa will both be desperate to win for different reasons at the Emirates this weekend as the Gunners hunt down the Premier League title and Unai Emery's side vie for Champions League qualification.

Arsenal v Aston Villa

Mikel Arteta's Arsenal are currently leading the way at the top of the Premier League table in what is developing into one of the most exciting title races in a number of years, with Liverpool trailing the Gunners on goal difference and Manchester City one point behind in third.

The Gunners will know they will have to be almost faultless from now until the end of the campaign if they are to get their hands on the Premier League trophy for the first time since the Invincibles team of 20023/04, with Liverpool and City providing stiff competition.

The visit of Aston Villa is likely to test Arsenal, with the fifth-placed Villans trailing Ange Posteocglou's Tottenham in fourth on goal difference, although Spurs do boast a game in hand.

Sunday's encounter is well set up to be an entertaining affair, with a number of intriguing individual duels to look out for in North London.

We examine three of these one-v-one match-ups which could prove decisive at the Emirates...

Declan Rice v John McGinn

A classic England v Scotland midfield battle, Arsenal’s Declan Rice and Aston Villa’s John McGinn are both likely to have a major say on which team comes out on top this weekend.

25-year-old Rice has had a sensational impact at the Emirates since arriving from West Ham for a club-record £105m fee last summer, with the England international providing Mikel Arteta’s side with not only an added sense of steel in the engine room but also a calm head in possession.

Rice is both an enforcer and playmaker in midfield, who sets the tempo for an Arsenal team who seek to suffocate the opposition with their pressing off the ball and dominate possession with the ball.

Villa skipper McGinn will be charged with disrupting the flow of Arsenal’s midfield led by Rice this weekend, with the Scotsman a tenacious operator who relishes a physical battle.

Ex-Hibernian midfielder McGinn will aim to make life as uncomfortable as possible for this weekend’s hosts, whilst also possessing the technical quality himself to make things happen in the final third having registered 14 goal contributions in all competitions for the Villans so far this term.

Declan Rice to Score Anytime - 9/2

Declan Rice to Be Booked - 3/1

John McGinn to Score Anytime - 17/2

John McGinn to Be Booked - 15/8

Leon Bailey v Oleksandr Zinchenko

After an underwhelming first campaign as a Villa player last term following a £30m move from Bayer Leverkusen, Leon Bailey has been one of Unai Emery’s side’s top performers this season as the Villans push for Champions League qualification.

A wide player with blistering speed and eye-catching skill, Bailey’s output has also been impressive this season – recording 12 goals and 13 assists in all competitions.

A player this Villa side look to in order to make things happen, Bailey acts as the chief support act to Ollie Watkins at the top end of the pitch, with the England international’s total of 28 goal contributions higher than any other player in the Premier League this season.

With Jakub Kiwior having started at left-back in Arsenal’s midweek Champions League encounter against Bayern Munich, Mikel Arteta may revert to Oleksandr Zinchenko in this position ahead of the visit of Villa this weekend.

A player with undoubted technical quality, who aids this Arsenal team’s capacity to dominate the ball and pick through compact opponents with incisive passes, Ukraine international Zinchenko is not the most natural one-v-one defender.

The ex-Man City man has become increasingly targeted by opposition teams boasting fast and direct wingers, and there have been few more effective wingers in the division than Villa’s Bailey this term.

Leon Bailey to Score or Assist - 11/4

Leon Bailey to Be Booked -

Oleksandr Zinchenko to Score or Assist - 3/1

Oleksandr Zinchenko to Be Booked - 5/1

Bukayo Saka v Lucas Digne

Although currently visibly struggling with niggling injuries, Bukayo Saka continues to represent one of Arsenal's most key players as the Gunners fight on two fronts in the Premier League and Champions League.

Despite his fitness issues, England international Saka has been able to admirably maintain his consistent attacking output, finding the net in Arsenal's last two matches against Bayern Munich and Brighton.

His availability could be particularly important for the visit of Aston Villa to North London this weekend, with Unai Emery's typical tactical set-up this season employing natural central defender Ezri Konsa at right-back to allow either Alex Moreno or Lucas Digne license to get forward at will from left-back.

Frenchman Digne was preferred in Villa's last Premier League outing at home to Brentford, and should this defensive system remain in place for the match against Arsenal, Saka could be a pivotal figure down the Gunners' right flank.

A more attack-minded left-back is unlikely to relish the prospect of shackling one of the top right wingers in the country in the form of Saka, and Arsenal manager Arteta may look to exploit this area of the field as he prepares for the latest leg of his side's title challenge.

Bukayo Saka to Score Anytime - 13/10

Bukayo Saka to Be Booked - 7/2

Lucas Digne to Score or Assist - 15/2

Lucas Digne to Be Booked - 21/10

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