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Premier League

  • 15 May 2011
  • • 16:00
  • • Emirates Stadium, London
  • Referee: M. Oliver
  • • Attendance: 60023
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Arsenal - Aston Villa Preview: Both sides hoping to arrest end of season slump

Arsenal - Aston Villa Preview: Both sides hoping to arrest end of season slump

Gunners still looking to nail down second or third place finish, as Villa seek the point that would make them mathematical certainties to retain their Premier League status


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PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Sczeszny; Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Clichy; Song, Wilshere; Walcott, Ramsey, Arshavin; Van Persie.
Things are looking bleak for both Cesc Fabrgeas and Samir Nasri - both of whom are set to face late fitness tests. The positive comes in the possible return of Thomas Vermaelen, who has been sidelined with Achilles problems since August, with Andrey Arshavin - replaced at half-time against Stoke - probably likely to have another chance in the starting XI.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Friedel; L Young, Dunne, Collins, Walker; Petrov, Reo-Coker, Downing, A Young; Bent, Agbonlahor.
The visitors have almost a full squad to select from, with Jean Makoun the only absentee. Gary McAllister will contnue to deputise for Gerard Houllier on the touchline, while Nigel Reo-Coker looks set to partner Stilyan Petrov in the middle of the park.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Don't expect this one to be settled early doors. There have been 90th minute goals in four of the last six meetings between the two.
  • Who said Arsenal were dodgy at the back? The Gunners have only let in two goals in the last nine games at the Emirates.
  • Aston Villa have forfeited 26 points from winning positions this season, a Premier League high.
  • The Emirates is the only stadium in the Premier League that has yet to see a goal scored from outside the box this term.
  • 57 per cent of the goals Arsenal have conceded this season have come from set-pieces, the worst record in the division.
  • Robin van Persie (pictured right) has hit the back of the net once every 99 minutes this Premier League term - a record bettered by no-one else scoring more than five league goals.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Wojciech SzczesnyGoalkeeper
3Bacary SagnaDefender
18Sébastien SquillaciDefender
5Thomas VermaelenDefender
28Kieran GibbsDefender
17Alex SongMidfielder
10Jack WilshereMidfielder
16Aaron RamseyMidfielder
10Andrey ArshavinMidfielder
14Theo WalcottStriker
20Robin van PersieStriker
1Jens LehmannGoalkeeper
27Emmanuel EboueDefender
48MiquelDefender
15DenilsonMidfielder
44Conor HendersonMidfielder
29Marouane ChamakhStriker
17Nicklas BendtnerStriker
24Brad FriedelGoalkeeper
2Kyle WalkerDefender
19James CollinsDefender
5Richard DunneDefender
18Luke YoungDefender
19Stilian PetrovMidfielder
18Ashley YoungMidfielder
19Stewart DowningMidfielder
16Fabian DelphMidfielder
20Nigel Reo-CokerMidfielder
39Darren BentStriker
33Andy MarshallGoalkeeper
24Carlos Javier CuéllarDefender
8Robert PiresMidfielder
12Marc AlbrightonMidfielder
4Michael BradleyMidfielder
11Gabriel AgbonlahorStriker
-Emile HeskeyStriker
Players to Watch
Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 16
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
With Cesc Fabregas likely to miss out, Aaron Ramsey will once again have to step into the shoes of the club's captain and talisman. With the speculation surrounding the Spandiard's future in London refusing to die down, Ramsey's pairing with Jack Wilshere in the middle of the park is likely to be a glimpse into the future for Gunners fans.

Ramsey proved just how good he is after returning from horrific injury to score the decisive goal in a victory against champions-elect Manchester United in Arsenal's last home game, and the hosts will be similarly dependent upon him impressing again to arrest their end of season slump.
Ashley Young
Ashley Young
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 18
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
It doesn't look as if Ashley Young will be around Villa Park much longer. The England winger underlined his importance to the team last week, scoring the equaliser against Wigan, and his vibrant performances have been one of few stand-out features of a lacklustre Villans' campaign.

The size of the pitch will play into Young's hands at the Emirates. With Arsenal uncharacteristically stringent at the back at home of late, Young will be crucial to any hopes the visitors have of escaping London with a point or three.
Prediction
The Gunners should prove too strong on their home turf for a team who surely just want the season to be over. Arsenal have been tight at the back in their own back yard but I think Villa's wide men will cause them trouble, though not enough to prevent Arsene Wenger's side from winning the contest.
Editor's Prediction

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