Arsenal predicted XI for Aston Villa as pair return to training but star misses out

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Arsenal will be without important defender Kieran Tierney for the trip to Aston Villa on Saturday due to an injury to the Scot’s right leg.

However, their visit to the West Midlands has no doubt been buoyed by the return of Mat Ryan and Pablo Mari to training.

The Gunners can climb above rivals Tottenham with a win against Villa in the early kick off on Saturday.

Mikel Arteta will be looking to put the 2-1 defeat to Wolves behind them at Villa Park.

And Arsenal are also without goalkeeper Bernd Leno, as the German stopper was sent off with 20 minutes left to play for handling the ball outside the area.

Mat Ryan set for Arsenal debut against Aston Villa on Saturday

That means that Brighton loanee Ryan is set to make his debut, having usurped the troubled Runar Alex Runarsson automatically.

The Australia international trained on Friday, along with Spanish defender Mari, who is unlikely to be handed a starting place.

In defence is likely to be Hector Bellerin and Cedric Soares at right and left back respectively, with Rob Holding and Gabriel Holding down the fort in the middle.

Grant Xhaka and Thomas Partey are Arteta’s go-to men in midfield these days, while Martin Odegaard could make his first start in the more creative role.

Kieran Tierney will miss out against Aston Villa

Bukayo Saka is Arsenal’s most important player these days, and takes his place on the left wing, with Nicolas Pepe on the right, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front.

Arteta reflected candidly on Runarsson’s difficult start to life at Arsenal, backing him to overcome his troubles so far, despite already seeming to replace him by signing Ryan on loan.

“You know that before you joined the club that you’ll be exposed to critics all the time, and if you do really well, people will be praising you more than at any other club,” said the Spaniard. “If you want to play here, you have to be able to handle that pressure.

Runar Alex Runarsson has been replaced as back-up keeper by Ryan

“I think he knew and he expected that, and he needs to handle that. We are here to support him and he’s played some games already here. He’s played some good games and yes he had a difficult game against Manchester City, but the other night he came on [against Wolves] and I think he did well.

“He works really hard and he’s fitting in really well around the dressing room. He’s a really nice boy, really humble and he needs to be away from all the comments to focus on his work and improving.

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“Alex knew his role before we signed him and obviously he knows his role after we signed him. We had a plan on the goalkeeper position and we could not execute the plan in the way we wanted, for different reasons, but Alex’s role was very clear around the squad. That hasn’t changed.

“Then, he needs to earn his opportunity and he needs to earn his place. He is third, second or first, depending on his performance. He needs to push for that.”

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