Match Preview: Arsenal v Aston Villa – Alexis Sanchez doubtful for Sunday clash
Arsenal may get a chance to prove on Sunday that they are not a one-man team as Alexis Sanchez faces a late fitness test and is currently expected to be out.
So far this season Arsenal have had 18 different goalscorers in the Premier League – more than any other club – yet the one man team label has persisted. Quite often even the most talented teams have a primary outlet and it just so happens that ours is Alexis Sanchez.
The hefty injury list in the first half of the season hasn’t seen our secondary outlets score as many as they and we would have liked, but there will be plenty of opportunity for that against Aston Villa.
This fixture last season saw Villa trounce Arsenal 3-1 after a shocking performance by referee Anthony Taylor who has proceeded to officiate blunderingly in almost every match he has featured in since that day.
Based on form Villa would usually be rank outsiders in a match like this but with Anthony Taylor refereeing there is a slightly uneasy vibe amongst the support. So far we have had a decent recovery to the New Year’s Day defeat to Southampton and it would be just Arsenal’s luck to see it marred by a poor performance from the main match official. It’s just the Arsenal supporters who have slight doubts though as TonyBet’s football odds have Arsenal as clear favourites for the 3 points.
Chelsea and Manchester City face off this weekend with Chelsea’s main striker, Diego Costa, likely to be banned for stamping on Emre Can in the Capital One Cup. City desperately need a win to stay in close contact with Chelsea and that suits us just fine.
Catching up with Chelsea is unrealistic however getting within touching distance would be a valiant effort and acceptable finish to the league season considering the start we had and injuries to contend with.
Villa are hovering above the drop zone and have taken just 5 points from their last 6 away games whilst Arsenal have 5 wins in their last 6 home league games.
Gabriel could feature in this match after securing his £11m move to Arsenal, however, that seems unlikely.
Arsenal are expected to win this match and whilst I believe they will there’s that little nagging voice in the back of my head repeating “Anthony Taylor is refereeing this one”.
Arsenal from; Szczesny, Ospina, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gabriel, Chambers, Monreal, Bellerin. Flamini, Coquelin, Rosicky, Ramsey, Özil, Giroud, Walcott, Chamberlain, Alexis, Cazorla, Campbell.
Ospina, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Chamberlain, Ramsey, Coquelin, Özil, Cazorla, Giroud
I expect to see substitute appearances from Rosicky, Walcott and Flamini
“For a large majority of the season we have been without Mesut, and Aaron for a spell and Theo as well. To have those kinds of players back is only good for us, and I’m sure they’ll come back and play a massive role in the rest of our season.” – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Last 3 meetings
- Aston Villa 0-3 Arsenal (20.09.2014)
- Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal (13.01.2014)
- Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa (17.08.2013)
Arsenal Last 5
Villa Last 5
Aston Villa have struggled for goals this season scoring 11, one fewer than Alexis Sanchez alone, and will find Arsenal’s much improved defence difficult to break down – if they get no undue help from the referee that is.
Defensively Villa have been quite solid and their goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, has made more saves than 75% of Premier League keepers this season. However, defensive stalwart, Ron Vlaar, and Arsenal old-boy Senderos are both injured.
Villa’s three main goal threats have only managed 10 between them this season with an average of 1390 minutes each whereas Olivier Giroud, who missed 4 months of football, has hit the back of the net 6 times in 623 minutes. In other words, 60% of the goals in 45% of the time. Given the same time, on average, Giroud would have scored 13 goals as an individual compared to the 10 of 3 players.
Benteke’s stock has certainly fallen since he was touted as the man to replace an ‘errant’ Giroud.
Overall, Villa have little to offer in the way of opposition for Arsenal if the Gunners turn up which is a strange thing to say because they have some really fantastic players.
- Alexis Sanchez has 30 goals on target this league campaign
- Christian Benteke has scored 3 goals in 4 Premier League appearances against Arsenal
- Villa haven’t scored in 5 league matches
- Villa have won 11 points at the Emirates, just behind Chelsea and Manchester United on 12
Arsenal are in good form, scoring goals, and generally keeping clean sheets (FA Cup aside) whereas Villa are struggling to hit the back of the net.
3-0 to Arsenal with goals from Giroud, Cazorla and Walcott. I’ll be match tweeting for Arsenal.com this weekend so keep an eye out for my knee-jerk reactions to match incidents.