Aston Villa head to Arsenal this weekend seeking a response after their second successive defeat on home soil to Southampton on Sunday.
The Saints blew Villa away in the first half, and though Villa responded admirably in the closing stages to claw the deficit back to a single goal, their visitors held on.
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That followed the defeat inflicted by Leeds United, and so Villa will want to get back to winning ways at the Emirates Stadium.
Dean Smith made one change over the weekend – that involved Bertrand Traore starting over Trezeguet – and Villa supporters are contemplating how the boss might tweak things in London in order to rediscover that early season form.
One aspect is in the midfield; Douglas Luiz, Ross Barkley and John McGinn have been settled in recent weeks, but Conor Hourihane could’ve counted himself unfortunate to have been left out after his last outing – at Fulham – saw him influence the victory.
This is what the Villans have been discussing.
Aston Villa fans on Hourihane and the midfield
Kurt : Hourihane needs to start against Arsenal. We are awful at set pieces without him on the pitch and we’ve seen first hand what can happen with a top quality set piece taker on the pitch with JWP. He needs to start playing soon, otherwise Bruce will probably try to sign him
Bhavik Patel : Smith needs to find a way to get the balance right in the #avfc midfield. This weekend could suit us playing on the counter. Essential McGinn & Luiz protect the back 4. Big performance needed from Barkley. Conor eager to win his place back & still has a role to play this season.
Andrew Ashburn: Conor Hourihane scored & registered an assist vs Fulham – no minutes for #avfc ever since. I expected more of a battle for places tbh, Ross Barkley seems to have just strolled into our midfield. Conor’s creative output shouldn’t be ignored – deserves more game-time, imo.
Roger W: Sunday it’s vital we get back to defending like we bloody mean it & even more importantly i feel our CM area must find much more energy & aggression, doesn’t Arsenal’s new lad will have a field day in there.
The Villa Vision: Should Conor Hourihane start against Arsenal? Personally, I would have him in just for his set piece delivery alone. Set pieces are going to be massive for us in away games against “top 6” sides
Andy Dorrington: This is going to be an unpopular opinion. I think he was unfairly dropped. I don’t think Luiz has played well all season and think he should be dropped. I question why hasn’t Conor even come on from the bench… I have started to wonder why this is by Smith.