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Premier League

  • August 17, 2013
  • • 10:00 AM
  • • Emirates Stadium, London
  • Referee: A. Taylor
  • • Attendance: 60003
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Premier League Preview: Arsenal - Aston Villa

Arsene Wenger's men host the Villans having added just one player, French youngster Yaya Sanogo, to their ranks, while the visitors have managed to hold on to Christian Benteke.

Arsenal will look to put its transfer troubles on the back burner with an opening day Premier League tilt against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger's side has been continually frustrated in the transfer market, missing out on several of their reported targets including Gonzalo Higuain, Luiz Gustavo and Clement Grenier.

The Gunners are still said to be chasing the likes of Liverpool's Luis Suarez, but they have made just one signing since last season ended - French forward Yaya Sanogo.

The 20-year-old - who joined on a free transfer from Ligue 2 outfit Auxerre - did impress during the club's preseason campaign, although he is currently suffering from a hamstring injury.

Headlining the exits at the Emirates Stadium in the offseason was Russian attacker Andrey Arshavin, while Gervinho, Andre Santos, Denilson and Marouane Chamakh have also left the club.

Arsenal, which finished fourth last season and will be involved in the UEFA Champions League for a 16th season in a row, has enjoyed a good lead up to the campaign, winning five of its seven friendlies.

France international striker Olivier Giroud has scored preseason eight goals and showed signs of improvement, while Theo Walcott added four tallies.

Walcott, who was the club's top Premier League scorer in 2012-13 with 14 goals, enjoyed more of a regular role as striker following the departure of Robin van Persie and is in good form. The 24-year-old scored in England's 3-2 friendly win over Scotland on Wednesday but is a doubt for his club's opener after leaving the field with a knee problem in the latter stages.

"I had to come off with a little bit of a swollen knee so fingers crossed I can rest up and I'll be all right for Saturday. This is a big year for Arsenal and myself," Walcott said.

One Arsenal player who is likely to miss is midfielder Mikel Arteta, who suffered a thigh injury in training this week.

Arteta's compatriot, Santi Cazorla, scored one and set up another in Spain's 2-0 friendly win against Ecuador on Wednesday and is sure to be in Wenger's starting XI as long as he returns from South America unscathed. 

After being sucked into a relegation fight last season, Paul Lambert's Aston Villa will welcome the beginning of the new campaign.

Villa's best piece of business during the summer saw the club keep hold of in-demand Belgian forward Christian Benteke. The 22-year-old, who scored 19 goals in his debut Premier League season, handed in a transfer request but later revoked it to the delight of the Villa Park faithful.

Lambert has been active in the transfer window, bringing in Jores Okore, Aleksandar Tonev, Antonio Luna, Nicklas Helenius and Leandro Bacuna to bolster the depth of his squad. Meanwhile, Jean Makoun returned to France while Richard Dunne and Brett Holman left the club on free transfers.

Villa, which finished 15th last term and beat the drop due in large part to the stout goalkeeping of American Brad Guzan, saw its preseason start poorly, with four draws and one loss, but it won its last four games, including a 3-2 win against Malaga last week.

Arsenal has a good recent record against Villa, winning three of the last four Premier League meetings between the sides, but it will hope to avoid a repeat of the 2-1 home defeat to the Midlanders in May 2011.

Thomas Vermaelen, Nacho Monreal (both back) and Abou Diaby (knee) will definitely miss the game, while Bacary Sagna and Aaron Ramsey (both ankle) are also in doubt for Arsenal.

Villa's bill of health is cleaner, although Charles N'Zogbia (Achilles) will not feature.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Arsenal

Aston Villa

Wins
3
1
1
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Arsenal FC ARS
Arsenal FC Arsenal
Draw
Aston Villa FC AST
Aston Villa FC Aston Villa
88%

Top 3 Predictions

Arsenal FC ARS
3 - 0
Aston Villa FC AST
Arsenal FC ARS
3 - 1
Aston Villa FC AST
Arsenal FC ARS
2 - 0
Aston Villa FC AST

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