Arsenal vs Aston Villa Pre-match report.
Yippy ay eh, Yippy aye oh, leaving Villa Park, with 3 points in tow!
Let’s start off with this ripper from last time they met:
Coming off a solid 2-0 victory midweek, we’re off to Villa Park to take on lowly Aston Villa. I’m pretty confident about this one to be honest as it’s not the same Villa we once dreaded playing!
Players are back from injury giving us a little leg room, whilst Darren Bent will thankfully miss out (one of those players who always seem to bring their best against us, no matter what). With that in mind, some players should be rested for Everton next Wednesday.
Lambert is off the touchline and into the stands, so one less thing to worry about. Let’s get into it shall we!
Missing in Action:
Arsenal: Diaby (thigh) is out for 3/4 weeks if “everything goes well”, according to Arsene. Unfortunately it never does when involving Diaby, so he’s a big question mark as far as I’m concerned! Santos (abdominal strain) is out for 10 days. Theo is still out for Villa but could be back against Everton next Wednesday. Rosicky is back training this Monday…I’m not kidding either, it’s true, he is!!! Gibbs is back and Ox should be right to play.
Aston Villa: Bent (ankle/foot), Dunne (Gilmores Groin), N’Zogbia (Knee), Herd (Knee), Gardner (ACL), Petrov (Acute Leukaemia). Like to wish Petrov all the best in his recovery, he is an inspiration to so many, and by all accounts is a tremendous bloke. Good luck, Petrov, I hope you can put it all behind you soon.
Arsene has a few selection headaches to face. Firstly Gibbs is back so what happens to Vermaelen? Does he rest him? Kozza shouldn’t be rested because he has regained his form, and neither should Mertesacker because he is our most important defender. I would rest Mertesacker because he needs a rest, but I feel Arsene won’t. Gervinho is back but Podolski and Giroud look to be forming a great understanding. Walcott is out so Ox should play. Santi and Arteta have played far too many games so one should be rested. Arsene has to start utilising the squad he has at his disposal: experienced players need a rest and younger players knocking on the door need game time. I am wary of too many changes in one go as it can upset the apple cart, but I think those coming in (Jenks and Gibbs) slip in pretty seamlessly.
Under Martin O’Neill Villa were a very dangerous team. Like Everton they were always just off the top teams and presented a tough fixture. A lot has changed since, and now they look a shadow of their former self. Lambert is an upgrade from Alex Mcleish but misses this encounter, due to a one match suspension received for ‘improper conduct’ against ManchesterCity. Thankfully for him it’s just a Premier League fixture because if it was a European Cup match, or his last name was Wenger, he’d probably be sitting out another two.
Last time around (24th March) we barely broke a sweat; winning 3-0 at home with goals from Gibbs, Theo, and a ripper of a free-kick from Arteta. Given made lots of saves (what’s new against us), but the result was never in doubt.
On Jan 29th, in an FA Cup match, we came back from 0-2 down to win 3-2, thanks to a three goal burst in seven minutes. I still don’t think Villa fans know what hit them.
Form Guide: Arsenal: WWDDL Aston Villa: LLWWD
We are slowly gaining our form and should be still riding the wave of momentum from the Tottenham victory. Aston Villa on the other hand is at an all-time low after being torn apart my ManchesterCity last weekend 5-0. Languishing at 18th on the ladder; not much is going right for them, but they can still be dangerous, as shown by their narrow 2-3 defeat to Manchester United two weeks ago.
One to Watch:
With Walcott still out, I’m interested to see how Ox will do out on the right hand side again. I think he’ll actually score a goal in this one. How could you not be excited about this bloke? Future world class player without a doubt! I would like to see him have a go as an AM, with that speak and shooting ability he could be a real problem.
It’s hard to say this time around, because the usual suspects who have caused us problems are all out (N’Zogbia, Bent, Dunne); so for Villa it has to be Andreas Weimann. Although he was non-existent against ManchesterCity last week, he did manage to score two goals against Manchester United. Both goals showed good predatory instincts and shooting prowess. Gibbs will have to be cautious out on the left.
Gabby Agbonlahor vs Per Mertesacker
I don’t know what happened to Gabby! When he first came onto the scene he looked like he could be an English Henry. He had immense speed, good skills, confidence, and his finishing was not to be scoffed at either. We were linked with him a few times in seasons gone, but his loyalty has been his downfall. If he had joined a better team I have no doubt he would have developed into a great player. For now, he’s just a quick player low on confidence with the occasional good game. After seeing Defoe sneak past Mertesacker last week I have no doubt Lambert will be pushing for Agbonlahor to do the same. However, this isn’t big Per’s first rodeo – he’s despatched quick players regularly in his career; some even craftier than Gabby e.g Suarez and Aguero.
This is for you Roman Abramovich for once again proving how much of a w*nker you really are. Roberto Di Matteo didn’t even have enough time to lose flavour in his gum before being thrown out (albeit with a brief case full of money!) as manager of Chelsea. He won them their first ever Champions League trophy (I’m still wondering how) and an FA Cup for Christ sake! That’s now Mourinho, Grant, Scolari, Hiddink, Ancelotti, AVB, and Di Matteo since 2004! He really must have the attention span and patience of a kid!
In saying that, I have just sent off my resume’ to him in an effort to be next in line for the position. I have listed you all as references so play along (something along the lines of “he’d be a great manager, scout, etc”), and I’ll split the money with you! It can’t be that hard…there aren’t many managers left.
Alan Hutton (Villa RB) receives a finger for being a mouthy ex-Tottenham player. In Dec 2011 he was sent off against Arsenal for two late cards. He has just gone out on loan to Nottingham Forest, proving once again going to Tottenham really does turn you to sh*t; just ask Bentley and Pienaar!
Also a polite finger goes to my sister for putting her engagement party on Saturday night. Couldn’t be during the off-season or during an international break, could it? Bloody selfish!!!
Pre-Match pat on the back:
This week it goes to Montpellier manager Rene Girard for saying this after the midweek Champions League match:
“We still have a game to play. And if we can help out our friends Arsenal, we will.”
I thought it was a very nice gesture from the manager and good to see there are a few good ‘uns left in the managerial world! Niceness aside, it is also good to see a manager take Montpellier to success playing good football and without all the oil money. Well played Girard!
Our climb up the ladder will not be halted by Villa: I predict a very comfortable walk in the park with the good guys coming out on top 0-2. We might need to do it tough, but just like our midweek game 3 points is of greatest importance and the rest will come later.
Grow a Mo for Movember!
Written by: Oz Gunner