Unai Emery‘s Aston Villa return to action in the Premier League this afternoon as they host Mikel Arteta‘s Arsenal on their own turf.
The Villans are attempting to avoid a third straight defeat in the top flight after losing to Manchester City and Leicester in their last two matches.
Emery’s team were beaten 3-1 by City last time out in the league, thanks to goals from Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez, and the Villa head coach may look to make alterations to his starting XI in order to bounce back from that loss.
Will Matty Cash start against Arsenal?
One player who must be unleashed from the start today is former Nottingham Forest defender Matty Cash, who could provide a much-needed defensive boost on the right-hand side of the pitch.
In his last Premier League start, the Poland international played ahead of Ashley Young and dropped in to help the defence when needed against Wolves in early January, putting in a solid display in that role.
As per Sofascore, the £80k-per-week dynamo won six of his eight individual duels and made two interceptions, three tackles, one block and two clearances, also completing 90% of his attempted passes.
This shows that the 25-year-old, who has made 2.8 tackles and interceptions per match and won 63% of his battles this season, was of huge help to Young on that side of the pitch by cutting out a number of opposition attacks before they got to the former England international at right-back.
Former Villa manager Alex McLeish once hailed the versatile talent’s ability to make an impact at both ends of the pitch, saying: “He ticks all the boxes, both attacking and defending. He’s a real threat going forward, as all modern full-backs are. Nowadays they have to be.”
Cash, who scored four goals and provided three assists in the Premier League in 2021/22, has the quality to make things happen in the final third and has shown that he also has the defensive steel to keep players quiet at the other end, which is why he is suited to a defensive right midfield role.
Utilising the Poland wizard’s versatility and strength in that position could be crucial to Villa picking up a positive result this afternoon, because of the quality that Arsenal have in Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard on the left flank.
Should Matty Cash start?
The Brazilian winger has racked up seven goals and two assists in 22 top-flight starts this season, whilst the Belgian gem has scored eight goals and set up another two in 16 starts for Brighton and the Gunners combined.
Therefore, playing Cash ahead of Young could help to lock up whoever Arteta selects on the left, as Villa would have two defensive players doubling up on them, which is why the former Nottingham Forest man must be unleashed today.