Aston Villa - Arsenal Preview: Wenger trying to stay in touch with table-toppers

The Gunners have lost their last two Premier League matches away from home, while Paul Lambert's side are looking to recover from two straight defeats to the Manchester clubs

Aston Villa

Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens,
Weimann, Westwood, Ireland, Bannan

Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen
Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla
Walcott, Giroud, Podolski

Darren Bent (ankle) will be available for Aston Villa, but may have to settle for a place on the bench as Christian Benteke should continue up front for the hosts.

Joe Bennett (knee), Richard Dunne (groin), Chris Herd (knee), Charles N'Zogbia (knee) and Stilian Petrov (leukaemia) all have no set return date for the hosts.

Craig Gardner (ACL injury) will definitely miss out until May 2013 at the earliest.

Villa have no players suspended, but manager Paul Lambert will be forced to watch from the stands after receiving a one-match ban from the FA following his comments after the 5-0 defeat to Manchester City.

Theo Walcott (shoulder) is in line to return for Arsenal after missing out against Montpellier with an injury picked up during the 5-2 victory over Tottenham last weekend.

Andre Santos (abdominal), Abou Diaby (thigh) and Tomas Rosicky (Achilles) all have no confirmed return date from injury, while goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) is out until at least January.

  • The last time Aston Villa beat Arsenal at Villa Park in the Premier League was in 1998, with a 3-2 victory.
  • During those 14 games, the Villans have lost seven times, drawn six, and won just once.
  • The first league clash between the sides ended in a 2-1 win for Villa in 1904.
  • Villa only have one win in their last eight Premier League games, and sit 18th in the Premier League.
  • Villa conceded five goals in their last game (against Manchester City) while Arsenal scored five (against Spurs).
  • Jack Wilshere's goal (pictured) against Montpellier on Wednesday was his first in 725 days - the last came against Villa on 27 November 2010.
  • Theo Walcott has played a part in 13 goals this season with eight strikes and five assists, more than any other Arsenal player.
  • Olivier Giroud have five goals in his last six starts after only grabbing two in his opening 13 matches.