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
By Tom J Doyle
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.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- 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.
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Top 3 Predictions
Aston Villa 1-3 Arsenal
- 21.28 %
Aston Villa 0-3 Arsenal
- 16.86 %
Aston Villa 0-2 Arsenal
- 11.62 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Jan 13, 2014||Aston Villa 1 - Arsenal 2|
|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|
|Mar 2, 2014||Aston Villa 4 - Norwich City 1||EPL|
|Feb 23, 2014||Newcastle 1 - Aston Villa 0||EPL|
|Feb 11, 2014||Cardiff City 0 - Aston Villa 0||EPL|
|Feb 8, 2014||Aston Villa 0 - West Ham 2||EPL|
|Feb 1, 2014||Everton 2 - Aston Villa 1||EPL|
|8||Karim El Ahmadi||Midfielder|
|21||Jordan Nathaniel Bowery||Striker|
It is difficult to know which version of the forward will turn up on any given day for Aston Villa. The 26-year-old certainly has the talent to be one of the Premier League's most exciting players. After defeats to Manchester United and Manchester City, the pressure is on Paul Lambert to take Villa out of the relegation zone, and the quick forward will be key to his plans if he can find space in behind the Arsenal midfield on Saturday.
The 27-year-old is assured with his touch and rarely gives the ball away, and can also offer a viable goal threat - as Spurs found out last weekend. If he plays well, Arsenal usually play well, and with Villa often inviting teams into the centre of the pitch, the stage is set for Cazorla to work his magic.
If Theo Walcott returns for the visitors, then Villa could find their jobs made a lot more difficult, as the England winger has been in scintillating form for Arsene Wenger's side so far.Paul Lambert's side put on a fine display against Manchester United, but slumped to a 5-0 mauling at their city rivals, and Arsenal should have too much for them after confident wins in their last two games.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed