Strong Villa side will trouble Arsenal

Strong Villa side will trouble Arsenal

Arsenal will be looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season midweek when they travel to Villa Park on Saturday.

A virtual second-string team were humbled 3-1 by Sevilla in the Champions League and will want to get back to winning ways against an Aston Villa side sitting as high as seventh in the Premiership. Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger’s side, they are likely to be out with four key players for the clash, with Cesc Fabregas joins Gael Clichy, Alexander Hleb and Robin van Persie on the injured list after tweaking his hamstring in Seville. However, Wenger did reveal some good news for Arsenal by announcing that Mathieu Flamini will be available for the trip.

“I don’t know how long it will be for Cesc. The worst case for him realistically is 10 days. We have a slight chance to get Gael Clichy and Alexander Hleb back. Mathieu Flamini will be available. Of course Van Persie is still out.”

There will not be many tougher away games than the one that Arsenal face this weekend against Aston Villa, and the test will made tougher by their high-profile list of absentees. Fabregas and Hleb have struck up an instrinsic relationship on the pitch that will be greatly missed and left-back Clichy has been one of the club’s most consistent performers this season. All three will be sorely missed.

The major issue with the injuries of course surrounds which players will play in the place of the injured quartet. Armand Traore was well out of his depth against Sevilla midweek but when it’s all said and done, Villa do not have anyone on the right in the mould of Daniel Alves and as such, I wouldn’t be against the youngster getting another chance to prove himself. Neither Gilberto Silva or Denilson impressed midweek and with Lassana Diarra not appearing, I’d expect Wenger to start the latter alongside Flamini in the middle of the park.

Martin Laursen has been an absolute rock for Villa this seasonA danger game for Arsenal

Emmanuel Adebayor is certain to return to the side and, irrespective of the formation, I would expect Theo Walcott to partner him. Eduardo da Silva and Nicklas Bendtner were probably Arsenal’s two best players in Sevilla but Wenger’s belief that Adebayor and the Danish striker cannot play together and Eduardo’s unconvincing Premiership form thus far suggests that both will sit on the bench. I wouldn’t be against Eduardo being given a chance to start against Villa and Walcott being used in a supersub role but I just can’t see it happening.

As for the rest of the side, Manuel Almunia should continue in goals and William Gallas will return to form the much-needed defensive partnership with Kolo Toure. Bacary Sagna will slot in at right-back, and Tomas Rosicky and Emmanuel Eboue – who was excellent against Sevilla – should take up positions on the left and right flanks respectively.

Despite Arsenal being on the losing side against Sevilla, the midweek game was an absolute cracker and I’m expecting something similar at Villa Park. Martin O’Neill has assembled a strong squad of players and Arsenal will need to keep an eye on the likes of Ashley Young, the storming John Carew and of course, supposed Arsenal target Gabriel Agbonlahor. Defensively, Villa boast three top-class defenders in Olof Mellberg, Wilfred Bouma and Martin Laursen, the latter arguable the club’s best performer so far this season. Despite his horror mistake for England, Scott Carson remains one of the top goalkeepers in the Premiership and will make life very tough for the Arsenal forwards.

In my opinion, this is a big danger game for Arsenal. It has nothing to do with a crisis, nothing to do with the midweek loss to Sevilla. It is about Arsenal travelling away to a side playing to the peak of their powers at the moment without a number of key players. A win would be fabulous but a draw looks a more realistic outcome for an Arsenal side that should be defensively strong but may struggle to win the the midfield battle without Fabregas and Hleb. Controlling possession will be the key for Arsenal and if Flamini and whoever partners him can stamp their authority early on then it could make all the difference. However, I’m going for 1-1 and with Arsenal still three points ahead of Manchester United with a game in hand I wouldn’t be unhappy with that result.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal’s tricky trip to Villa by leaving a comment.

8 Responses to “Strong Villa side will trouble Arsenal”

  1. anik the naga gooner
    November 30, 2007 at 6:25 pm #

    I agree this is a problematic game for arsenal. we have not done too well at villa park in recent seasons and we could very well drop points this weekend. It will be facinating to see how we respond to tha challenge.

    I feel we are gonna have to scrap for three points but if we can play an ugly game and acquire 7 points from the three upcoming games I will seriously start to believe that the title is heading to ashburton grove (still cant believe we named it the emirates stadium!).This coming december and january will truly reveal what our team is made of

  2. ArsenalKenya
    November 30, 2007 at 7:08 pm #

    I fully back your comments SF. we should hold them in the first half with a possible 1-0 margin and then go for the kill in the second half. I will be happy with a draw provided we get at least 7 points from the three away games.

    I will be watching the game in our locally packed home pub – THE GUINESS WATERING HOLE.

  3. Astonmilan
    November 30, 2007 at 8:32 pm #

    I’m looking forward to Arsenal visiting us, you have an amazing squad and play some of the best football I’ve seen consistantly, we are in form at the moment, but it will take a mammoth effort to get one over on you at Villa Park. I’d be happy drawing with the very deserved league leaders. A win would be amazing, apart from those manc s**ts gaining on you, but hey, 3pts would be very welcome.

  4. Spanish Fry
    November 30, 2007 at 11:49 pm #

    Seems like most people think it’s going to be a close one. Villa are in form and Arsenal have a tough run of games – this one has all the makings of a very good match. Good to see you hate Manchester United as much as the rest of us, Astonmilan! 🙂

  5. casicky
    December 1, 2007 at 1:48 am #

    its good to have some opponent fans come on and give worthwhile opinions,i guess us both hating the mancs helps..either way it will be a good game

  6. Jay
    December 1, 2007 at 3:19 am #

    This will not be a walk over nor will it be fustratingly hard but we will have to wrk hard to get 3 points. To go agaisnt a team who whooped Blackburn 4-0 and win will be no easy task. With RVP still out and Fab4 now out. Also Clichy n Hleb doubtful, it is the perfect game for Villa to prove to the rest of the prem that they mean business!

  7. JohnST
    December 1, 2007 at 4:07 am #

    Arsenal’s injury list is piling up and Villa will seek to capitalize on this.

    A close match but I believe Arsenal will squeeze out a result.

    John
    SoccerNet Live

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