Arsenal - Aston Villa Preview: Gunners look to bounce back after successive cup defeats at the Emirates
Arsene Wenger's side return to league action against a struggling Villa needing a win to revive hopes of a Champions League finish, with Paul Lambert's men in a relegation scrap
By Husmukh Kerai
Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Monreal
Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla
Podolski, Giroud, Walcott
Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett
Delph, Westwood, Ireland
Arsenal will be without Bacary Sagna (knee) after he injured himself in the 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in midweek, so Carl Jenkinson should start at right-back, with the Englishman's three-match suspension having run its course.
Kieran Gibbs (thigh) remains sidelined so Nacho Monreal will return at left-back after being cup-tied for the Champions League tie. Per Mertesacker will therefore probably make way and Thomas Vermaelen will move back to centre-back.
Olivier Giroud could start the game after he was introduced from the bench during the week, while Mikel Arteta will face competition from a fit again Abou Diaby in central midfield.
Aston Villa, meanwhile, could have Charles N'Zogbia (knee) back, although he may start from the bench. Richard Dunne (groin and hip) suffered a setback in his recovery, so is unlikely to play, elsewhere in defence, Chris Herd (foot) is also out.
Mark Albrighton (foot) and Gary Gardner (knee) remain long-term absentees, while Fabian Delph came through unscathed against West Ham so should continue in the starting XI.
Paul Lambert may also have Gabriel Agbonlahor and Karim El Ahmadi back in contention after they missed the clash with the Hammers with illness.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Arsenal have only scored one goal fewer (50) than they had at this point of their ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003-04.
Arsene Wenger's side have created fewer goalscoring chances from corners than any other side this season.
- The Gunners have won only two of their last six home games against yhe Villans in the Premier League.
- Defeat to the Midlands outfit would be the north Londoners' third home loss in a row, the first time they have been on such a run at the Emirates Stadium.
Aston Villa have only scored 16 goals in 20 away trips to Arsenal in the Premier League.
- Christian Benteke (pictured) has now scored in five successive appearances for Aston Villa in all competitions.
- Villa have been shown more yellow cards than any other Premier League team this season (54), while Arsenal have been shown the least (24).
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Top 3 Predictions
Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa
- 13.7 %
Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa
- 12.2 %
Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa
- 12 %
|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|
|Apr 15, 2014||Arsenal 3 - West Ham 1||EPL|
|Apr 12, 2014||Wigan Athletic 1 - Arsenal 1||FA|
|Apr 6, 2014||Everton 3 - Arsenal 0||EPL|
|Mar 29, 2014||Arsenal 1 - Manchester City FC 1||EPL|
|Mar 25, 2014||Arsenal 2 - Swansea 2||EPL|
|8||Karim El Ahmadi||Midfielder|
|21||Jordan Nathaniel Bowery||Striker|
The Frenchman would have been unhappy not to start against Bayern Munich and therefore has a point to prove to Arsene Wenger. The defensive partnership of Vlaar and Clark have struggled against big centre forwards in recent weeks, with the likes of Victor Anichebe and Andy Carroll causing the pair panic at times. Giroud, if he starts, should see it as a great opportunity to improve his goal tally and bring some cheer to Arsenal after a nightmare week.
The Austrian has shown the predatory instincts needed in the Premier League on occasion, and with Benteke contesting aerial balls against the Arsenal centre-halves the onus will be on Weimann, and Agbonlahor, to support the Belgian in attack. The midfielder will spend most of the match up against Carl Jenkinson and will fancy his chances against the young right-back.
Aston Villa are well rested after almost two weeks out of action while the Gunners have been through an energy-sapping week. It's hard to see Arsenal fall to three successive home defeats, though, so expect a reaction from Wenger's men.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed