Villa, in contrast, are currently languishing in the relegation zone having only amassed two wins in the Premier League this season. The two previous game-weeks have seen them suffer a tight loss to Manchester United followed by a 5-0 mauling by current Champions Manchester City. While morale will be down in the Villa camp, the quality of their squad is no doubt better than their current position on the Premier League ladder, meaning their is no room for complacency in this match.
In terms of the squad, Diaby still remains out with Arsene stating he won’t be returning for three to four weeks. Santos is also out with an abdominal strain. The good news for Arsenal is that Tomas Rosicky has started team training and should become available for the very busy schedule ahead. With so many midweek games coming up, you feel there will be a need to rotate the likes of Arteta and Cazorla who have essentially played every match so far this season.
Walcott remains out with a shoulder injury therefore Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to reprise his role on the right-wing. Another likely change could be to the left-back position with Kieran Gibbs yet to feature after returning to the squad in midweek. Arsenal have certainly missed the Englishman and while Vermaelen has begun to look comfortable playing on the left, Gibbs would still be the preferred option.
In terms of the outcome of the match, personally I think Arsenal should win this one comfortably factoring in recent form and results of both teams. It will be important for Arsenal to come out of the blocks firing, particularly with the Gunners looking very sloppy in the first half against Montpellier. Expect the Arsenal midfield to dominate and Giroud to cause all kinds of trouble up front.
on the latest team news…
Santos is out for 10 days with an abdominal strain. Oxlade-Chamberlain looks alright. Theo [Walcott] is out for Saturday, but has a chance for Wednesday at Everton.
on Abou Diaby…
If all goes well, three to four weeks.
on Tomas Rosicky…
He should be back with us on Monday. He started in team training on Monday. Last year from January to the end of the season he was one of the most influential players in our squad. I hope he can repeat that because until now we haven’t seen him and he was injured at the European Championship. He has a similar injury to Scott Parker, they had operations at the same time and they will come back basically at the same time. It is very difficult [mentally] for him, because Tomas is a guy who loves to play, who is happy on a football pitch. When you have been injured as many times as he has been, it is not easy to take.
Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
Chamberlain Cazorla Podolski
Arsenal to win: 8/11 (1.72)
Draw: 11/4 (3.75)
Aston Villa to win: 15/4 (4.75)
Arsenal to win: 8/11 (1.72)
Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 2 = 8/1 (9.00)