Aston Villa vs Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: January 13, 2014 8:00 PM GMT
Arsenal find themselves under a bit of pressure with both Chelsea and Manchester City leap-frogging ahead of them to the top of the Premier League ladder after both registering wins this game-week. The Gunners, however, have the opportunity to re-take top spot with victory against an Aston Villa side that managed to pull off an upset against Arsenal on the opening day of the season.
While that fixture was some cause for optimism for the Villa fans as well as disappointment for Gooners, looking at the present the tables have certainly turned. Since that victory Villa have only registered five wins in nineteen Premier League matches, while Arsenal find themselves serious contenders in the title race, only two points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand.
Going into this match, Arsenal should be refreshed after a nine day break following the FA Cup win over Tottenham. The big news from that clash was of course the news that Walcott is now out for the remainder of the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament. Despite being a massive loss, Arsenal can count themselves lucky with Gnabry showing that he has the goods to step into Walcott’s shoes and Oxlade-Chamberlain making his long awaited return after a lengthy five month lay-off.
Looking at other team news, Wenger has hinted that Ramsay and Gibbs are likely to come up short for this fixture, meaning that Nacho Monreal is likely to get the chance to for another start and Wilshere also likely get the nod in midfield alongside the more favoured Mikel Arteta. No real drop in quality to be fair. Wenger has also stated that Giroud and Ozil were back in full training with no problems, meaning they are likely to reprise their starting roles.
There is no doubt Villa will be low on morale after succumbing to defeat to League One relegation battlers Sheffield United, making it only one win in the last seven matches. Additionally, the Villans have failed to win at home since November so despite knowing they could pull the double on Arsenal this season, based on form there is only one clear favourite on paper.
Overall, it looks to be the usual suspects Arsenal will have to be weary of – Christian Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor. If the Gunners can keep those two quiet, the match should hopefully be comfortable. Arsenal haven’t lost to the Villans at their home ground since 1998 and form, as well as history, suggests that streak looks set to continue. COYG!
Arsenal: Sanogo (back), Diaby (knee), Gibbs (calf)
Aston Villa: Kozak (broken leg), Okore (knee), N’Zogbia (Achilles)
|ARSENAL – WWWWD||ASTON VILLA – LWDLL|
|Arsenal FC 2 – Tottenham 0||FA||Aston Villa 1 – Sheffield United 2||FA|
|Arsenal FC 2 – Cardiff 0||EPL||Sunderland 0 – Aston Villa 1||EPL|
|Newcastle United 0 – Arsenal FC 1||EPL||Aston Villa 1 – Swansea City 1||EPL|
|West Ham 1 – Arsenal FC 3||EPL||Aston Villa 0 – Crystal Palace 1||EPL|
|Arsenal FC 0 – Chelsea FC 0||EPL||Stoke City 2 – Aston Villa 1||EPL|
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal
Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 2