FA Cup Preview: Arsenal - Aston Villa
Hosts have lost last three league games but Frenchman boasts incredible home record in this competition, though Mcleish tasted victory last time the two bosses met in a cup tie
By John Stammers
Yennaris, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Miquel
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Arshavin
Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock
Agbonlahor, Ireland, Petrov, Albrighton
Arsenal have a fairly full treatment room with various long-term absentees such as Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna still missing from the squad. However, Arsene Wenger may have duo Thierry Henry and Mikel Arteta available for selection in this fourth-round FA Cup tie.
Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh are also both unavailable on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Nicholas Yennaris is likely to play some part in the fixture after he replaced Johan Djourou during the loss against Manchester United.
Aston Villa's attacking options have been replenished with Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey and Darren Bent returning from their respective problems, creating a potential selection headache following loanee Robbie Keane's brace against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Alex McLeish also has Stephen Ireland available for the tie, after he missed the win against Wolves with a hamstring injury. One blow for the Villans though is the heel injury to Charles N'Zogbia, which continues to rule him out.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Arsenal have lost just one of 33 home FA Cup ties under Arsene Wenger, not including the void victory over Sheffield United.
- The north London club also have a good home record this season, losing only twice across all competitions.
- So far this season Wenger has used 32 squad players, more than in any other previous campaign.
- Robin van Persie (pictured right) is the Gunners' top goalscorer this campaign, with 23, compared to eight from Villa's leading scorer, Darren Bent.
- The only clubs to have won the FA Cup more times than Aston Villa's seven are Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs; however the Villans' most recent triumph was in 1957.
- Aston Villa have taken more league points from Arsenal at the Emirates than any other team, only losing once in their five visits, winning and drawing twice each.
- Villans' striker Darren Bent, who was a Gunners' fan as a child, has scored six goals in his last eight appearances against these opponents.
- The last time that Villa beat a top-flight club in the FA Cup was in 2000; since then they have lost four and drawn once against teams in the highest division.
- The sides have met nine times in the FA Cup before, with the Gunners progressing six times to Villa's three.
- The last time Wenger met McLeish in a cup competition was the League Cup final in 2011, when the Frenchman's team lost 2-1 to the Scot's Birmingham side.
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Top 3 Predictions
Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa
- 23.22 %
Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa
- 19.25 %
Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa
- 16.82 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Aug 17, 2013||Arsenal 1 - Aston Villa 3|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Feb 23, 2013||Arsenal 2 - Aston Villa 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Nov 24, 2012||Aston Villa 0 - Arsenal 0|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Mar 24, 2012||Arsenal 3 - Aston Villa 0|
|England - FA Cup (FA)||Jan 29, 2012||Arsenal 3 - Aston Villa 2|
|Dec 8, 2013||Arsenal 1 - Everton 1||EPL|
|Dec 4, 2013||Arsenal 2 - Hull 0||EPL|
|Nov 30, 2013||Cardiff City 0 - Arsenal 3||EPL|
|Nov 26, 2013||Arsenal 2 - Olympique de Marseille 0||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||Arsenal 2 - Southampton 0||EPL|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
|24||Carlos Javier Cuéllar||Defender|
The player's reaction, following Arsenal fans' jeers when the Russian replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 2-1 defeat against Manchester United on Sunday, could make or break the rest of his Gunners' career. With the London club suffering injuries left, right and centre, Wenger increasingly needs his big players to step-up and produce following their third loss in a row. The international captain has been poor this season and at times hasn't looked as if a football club in London is where he wants to be, and this attitude has brought abuse from the stands. If the boss continues to select the midfielder then he will need to answer his critics, and this is a prime opportunity with the supporters' attention now closely following the tiny Russian.
The loan signing from LA Galaxy scored two fantastic goals to help his temporary side beat Wolves 3-1 last weekend, and he will be looking to continue that form against Arsenal. McLeish will have welcomed that brace, but with Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey all returning from knocks the manager will have to deal with a selection headache up-front. Keane proved in his last performance that he still has the quality and experience to put the sword to Premier League defences, of which the Gunners' is not the tightest. The former Tottenham man may well receive a frosty reception at the Emirates, but that may just Spur him on.
Aston Villa are safe from relegation and will see Europe as an unrealistic target, therefore Alex McLeish is likely to field a full-strength side and go all out for the victory in search of a morale, and gate receipt, boosting cup run. Arsenal continue to suffer defensive set-backs and although Arsene Wenger will be boosted by possible returns for Mikel Arteta and Thierry Henry, who scored the winner in their third-round fixture against Leeds, the boss's incredible home record in the competition could take a dent. As always the Gunners will play some good football, but Villa's attack looks dangerous on paper and the hosts' defence always looks like conceding. Falling to a fourth successive defeat looks like a viable outcome for Wenger's men.
Times In GMT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed