Struggling Aston Villa face a difficult task as they attempt to break away from the relegation zone, with Arsenal high on confidence following the derby win over Tottenham. Having recorded a morale-boosting victory over their arch rivals, the Gunners will fancy their chances in this match.
Genuine relegation strugglers
Not so long ago, Aston Villa have been regular in top 6 and playing in Europa League, but the Villans have been on the major downtrend ever since Martin O’Neill left the club. Villa somehow managed to avoid the drop last term, finishing the league campaign just two points above the bottom three, but they may not be as lucky this term. While the club chiefs did well to bring Paul Lambert to replace Alex McLeish at the helm, we can now safely say most of their transfer dealings were pretty poor. Apart from Ron Vlaar and Christian Benteke, new signings have failed to prove they have what it takes to play at this level, so no wonder Brett Holman and Karim El Ahmadi have been dropped from the starting line-up. Sitting deep in the relegation zone and going into this game on the back of a 5-0 defeat at Etihad, Aston Villa have little to hope for ahead of the clash with improving Arsenal.
Darren Bent is back in contention, but Joe Bennett, Richard Dunne, Chris Herd, Craig Gardner, Stiliyan Petrov and Charles N’Zogbia are all unavailable.
The Jack Wilshire effect
Young Jack Wilshire was terribly unlucky to suffer a serious injury at the time when he was impressing for both club and country, but he has returned in just the right time to help Arsenal turn this season around. During his absence, the entire creative department depended on Santi Cazorla, so no wonder the Gunners were often frustrated in their attempts to reach the opponents’ goal. However, Arsene Wenger’s side have become much more dangerous with Jack Wilshire in the side, and with Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski both starting to prove their worth and score important goals, Arsenal look really good at the moment. Impressive victories over Tottenham and Montpellier have helped the players restore the lost confidence, with the game against Villa an excellent chance to further close the gap behind their top 4 rivals.
Theo Walcott should return after missing the Montpellier game, but Thomas Rosicky, Andre Santos, Abou Diaby and Lukasz Fabianski are all sidelined.
Aston Villa have been utterly disappointing this season and after losing to both Manchester rivals, they will find it hard to match in-form Arsenal. The Gunners are slowly raising their form and they look more than capable of winning their third successive game in all competitions.
Top pick: Away win 1.73 (8/11) @ BetFred
Alternative pick 1: Arsenal to score two or more 1.67 (2/3) @ Stan James
Alternative pick 2: Both teams to score 1.62 (5/8) @ BetVictor