Hopefully we won’t need to go down this road, but concussion substitutes are being used for the first time today, as part of a trial that will run for the rest of the season. Two permanent substitutions can now be made in the event of head injuries, even if all replacements have already been used. Should any concussion substitute be made, the opposing team will be allowed to make the equivalent number of changes.

Aston Villa, ninth, make two changes to the side that went down 3-1 at home to West Ham. Douglas Luiz and Anwar El Ghazi make way for Bertrand Traore and Marvelous Nakamba.

Arsenal, tenth, make two enforced changes in the wake of the Wolves fiasco. Bernd Leno and David Luiz are both suspended as a result of the red cards they picked up at Molineux. That hands a debut to Mat Ryan in goal, while Gabriel fills in at the back.

Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Nakamba, McGinn, Traore, Barkley, Grealish, Watkins.
Subs: Heaton, Douglas Luiz, Trezeguet, El Ghazi, Engels, Sanson, Elmohamady, Davis, Ramsey.

Arsenal: Ryan, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Cedric, Thomas, Xhaka, Saka, Smith-Rowe, Pepe, Lacazette.
Subs: Ceballos, Odegaard, Willian, Runarsson, Aubameyang, Chambers, Pablo Mari, Elneny, Martinelli.

Aston Villa did a proper number on Arsenal back in November. A 3-0 win at the Emirates that Dean Smith felt “was as good” as their famous 7-2 evisceration of Liverpool. Mikel Arteta by contrast described his listless side’s defeat as the worst of his short managerial career.

Times change, and at speed this season. While Villa were flying back then, they’re now on a stickier run, having lost four of their last six. Arsenal by contrast have recovered from those dark days when there were some slightly hysterical whispers about a relegation scrap. They’re much improved, although they’re coming off the back of defeat at Wolves and have only won two of their last five.

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