The pressure’s on as Arsenal and Aston Villa step up Premier League title bids

Morgan Gibbs-White can make Arsenal feel the heat by scoring at the City Ground (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal and Aston Villa face difficult tests as they resume their Premier League title campaigns seeking victories which would leave them just two points behind leaders Liverpool.

Both clubs are on 43 points and will have played a game more than Jurgen Klopp’s Reds – who play Chelsea on Wednesday, so maintaining the pressure and strengthening their respective bids for Champions League qualification is crucial. 

The Gunners, rested after not playing in the FA Cup at the weekend, appear to have the easier task and head up the M1 to tackle Nottingham Forest at the City Ground full of confidence following a thumping 5-0 victory against Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium last time out.

The hosts, just four points above the relegation zone, will no doubt still be smarting after losing 3-2 at Brentford in their last match, when Bees striker Ivan Toney scoring a cheeky and controversial free-kick.

But they will be happy to be back on home soil for the first time in the league this year and cannot be underestimated after beating Manchester United 2-1 on the banks of the Trent at the end of 2023.

Forest will also be inspired by Arsenal’s end-of-year wobble in which they won just once in five league outings to raise questions over their championship credentials and it must be noted that Palace were truly terrible when the Gunners gave them a hiding.

Aston Villa can send Newcastle to an eighth league defeat on their travels this season (Picture: Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta’s side struggled for goals before smashing the Eagles, scoring just five times in seven games in all competitions since a 4-3 win at Luton, while Forest have scored 14 in their last seven games, which includes a 3-1 success at Newcastle.

It could be a tense affair but Forest will be boosted by the return of Morgan Gibbs-White, who is 8/1 with Sky Bet to score at any time, and they appeal at 3/4 with BetUK and Unibet to win with a two goal start in their handicap markets.

Villa deserve credit for staying in the title race, although their performances have not been as crisp in the past month, but they should be too strong at home for poor travellers Newcastle, who have only three victories in their last 11 games in all competitions.

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