Arsenal go in to this match coming off some disappointing losses in recent weeks resulting in a three game losing streak in the Premier League with the most recent loss coming against arch rivals Manchester United. While not a league game, no doubt the gunners will be hungry for a win in this round of the FA Cup to continue their pursuit of silverware and also get back to familiar winning ways.
On the injury front it is great to see that Arteta, Henry and particularly Bacary Sagna have become fit enough for squad selection. Arsenal have been without a specialist full-back for numerous weeks and no doubt Wenger will be relieved to finally have a proper wing-back in contention for selction. The French full-back is likely to be in the squad and will perhaps get a small cameo from the bench, depending on how well he performs in a fitness test before the match. It is likely Yennaris will reprise his role at right-back after Djourou had a torrid performance last weekend.
On the other side of the coin, it is extremely disappointing to hear that Jack Wilshere has suffered an injury set-back after already sitting out the whole first-half of the season. The young Englishman is said to be extremely disappointed, no doubt as well as many Arsenal fans. The young star was a stand-out player of the last campaign and to have him back in midfield would definitely lift the team after some sub-standard performances from Ramsey in recent weeks, but hopefully he improves after Wenger confirmed Wilshere is out of contention until March at the earliest.
One shining light in the recent game against Manchester United was young Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. With such a fine performance the young English prodigy is expected to be more of a mainstay in the team and looks to bring a lot to Arsenal’s attack. With Arshavin his only contender with Gervinho at the African Nations Cup, the youngster should get a valuable start.
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on Bacary Sagna…
Bacary Sagna is back in full training. Many players who are not specialist right backs have been playing in this position so we are relieved to have Bacary back.
on Mikel Arteta…
He is very close to full training, Thierry Henry as well.
on Kieran Gibbs…
He will be back to full training on Monday. He will certainly not be involved at all on Sunday.
on Francis Coquelin…
He is back in the squad, he is available. That makes him, Henry, Bacary and Arteta back in contention for the squad.
on Jack Wilshere…
He has had a little setback that is under investigation at the moment so I cannot give you how long he will be out for. At the moment he is seeing a specialist and as soon as we know more we will communicate. It sets him back a little bit but for how long I don’t know. It is the same foot but a different problem to the injury he had surgery on back in September. But is it an inflammation? We have to wait a little bit.
on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain…
He is alright, it was just fatigue. His calf was not gone or anything like that, he just started to tire a little bit. It is normal for a guy who plays a game at that intensity. But health-wise he has no problem. He will be involved on Sunday.
on Johan Djourou…
He has still not practiced today. It is a small hamstring problem – but a minor one.
on the overall position…
At the moment, many players are on their way back. I will have to decide on Saturday, I have to look at them and see how much of a gamble I can take because we play again on Wednesday. Gibbs will certainly not be involved at all on Sunday, but the others could be involved. That will be decided tomorrow.
Arsenal – Robin van Persie – The Dutchman should be fresh after having an extended break away from football and hopefully upon his return will continue the freakish form he was in in 2011.
Aston Villa – Gabriel Agbonlahor – With the Englishman returning from injury no doubt he will want to replicate the form he produced at the start of the season.
Yennaris Koscielny Vermaelen Miquel
Walcott Ramsey Chamberlain
Van Persie (c)
Arsenal to win:
Skybet, Paddypower & Bet365 are all offering the same odds of 4/7 for the Gunners to win at the Emirates.
Bet365 have the highest paying odds for a draw at 16/5
Aston Villa to win:
Paddypower is paying 5/1 for Villa to win away.
allArsenal’s Special Bet:
allArsenal’s Special Bet: Halftime/Fulltime–Draw/Arsenal=10/3
*Special bet facts:
Arsenal have won numerous matches this season while drawing at halftime.
In the last 10 meetings between the sides, Aston Villa have only won once, though that was at the Emirates last season.
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