Match Preview: Arsenal vs Aston Villa
Arsenal host 16th placed Aston Villa at the Emirates on Sunday. The Gunners sit fifth in the Premier League table with 39 points, while the visitors are 16th with just 22 points. Last time these two sides met, the game ended 3-0 with Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil on the scoresheet. Arsenal are high on confidence after beating Manchester City 2-0 at the Etihad, while Aston Villa lost their last game 2-0 to Liverpool.
The Emirates Stadium is a football stadium in Holloway, London, England, and the home of Arsenal Football Club. With a capacity of 60,272, the Emirates is the third-largest football stadium in England after Wembley and Old Trafford.
The match is scheduled to kick off at 7:00 PM IST.
Referee: Anthony Taylor Assistants: G Beswick, D Bryan Fourth Official: R Madley
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): David Ospina, Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker, Laurient Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud
Arsenal’s top goal scorer this season, Alexis Sanchez, is a doubt for the game, after suffering a hamstring injury. New signing Gabriel Paulista is expected to be in the match day squad. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also out with a groin injury. Jack Wilshere (ankle), Mikel Arteta (ankle), Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder) and Abou Diaby (calf) are all out due to injury concerns.
Bellerin is expected to keep his place ahead of Calum Chambers, after a good performance against Manchester City. Coquelin and Rosicky are likely to start as the double pivot, while Ozil is expected to start after an impressive outing in the FA Cup. Giroud will be hoping to lead the Gunners attack.
Aston Villa(4-3-3): Brad Guzan, Alan Hutton, Jores Okore, Ciaran Clark, Aly Cissokho, Ashley Westwood, Carlos Sanchez, Fabian Delph, Andreas Weimann, Christian Benteke, Carles Gil
New signing Scott Sinclair is expected to play some role against Arsenal, while Carles Gil should start after his sublime goal in the FA Cup against Bournemouth. Gabby Agbonlahor returns from injury, but it’s unlikely he’ll start. Fabian Delph signed a new contract and is expected to start in the middle of the park. Christian Benteke is expected to start up front.
- Danny Welbeck has scored four goals in his last three Barclays Premier League starts against Aston Villa, while Christian Benteke has scored three goals in four BPL appearances against Arsenal.
- Chelsea and Man Utd (12 each) are the only visiting team to have earned more points at Emirates Stadium than Aston Villa (11) in the Barclays Premier League (W3 D2 L3).
- Arsenal have scored five goals in their last two Barclays Premier League matches against Villa, all between the 32nd and 36th minutes.
- Currently on a run of five matches without a goal, the Villains have never gone six league matches in a row without scoring in their history.
Per Mertesacker vs Christian Benteke
Aston Villa have failed to score in their last 5 league games and Benteke has to be at his clinical best against Arsenal, if they are hoping to take anything from the game. Benteke has scored two goals this season, after missing most of the games due to injury. Per Mertesacker might have some difficulties coming up against the Belgian international who has scored 3 goals in 4 league games against the Gunners.
Olivier Giroud vs Ciaran Clark
The French international has 6 goals in 11 league appearances, and is Arsenal’s second highest goal scorer behind Alexis Sanchez. With Sanchez likely to miss the game, Giroud will have to put in a good performance to get his team three crucial points. Clark will have to be at his best against Giroud and one of the most creative sides in the league. Giroud will also be hoping to cement his place in the starting XI in the absence of Danny Welbeck.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa