Arsenal will be determined to beat Aston Villa at the Emirates on Saturday, so that they can cut the 4 point gap to Tottenham and end a traumatic 7 days on a high note.
Having seen their side get brushed aside with ease at home in the Champions League against Bayern Munich in midweek as well as the shock defeat to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup, Arsenal fans will be on Wenger’s back to get a clear and convincing victory over relegation threatened Aston Villa. On paper, this is the perfect medicine for a side in Arsenal’s predicament but alternatively if you are of a more cynical persuasion; it could turn a terrible week into something much worse. Aston Villa although struggling in terms of points, have picked up 4 points in their last 2 games with their talisman Christian Benteke finding the back of the net with consummate ease.
They are fighting for their lives to stay in the top flight of English football with a young, hungry squad of players. This is a tougher assignment for Arsenal than what it suggests on paper. Arsenal simply have to win or face that they will likely finish a trophy-less season without the consolation of Champions League spot.
Carl Jenkinson is expected to be brought straight back into the starting XI for the home side and he is expected to fill in for the injured Bacary Sagna (knee), as reported by BBC Sport. Nacho Monreal is available and should start at left back with Olivier Giroud likely to lead the line with Theo Walcott shifted out wide.
Aston Villa will see Gabriel Agbonlahor (illness) and Karim El-Ahmadi (illness) back in the squad with Agbonlahor almost a certainty to start with youngster Jordan Bowery being the man to make way. Nathan Baker should continue his role at left back and it is anticipated that Fabian Delph will continue in his holding role alongside Ashley Westwood.
Key Match Facts
- Arsenal have lost only two of their last 28 league meetings with Aston Villa (W17, D9, L2).
- Aston Villa have won two of their last 4 trips to the Emirates Stadium.
- Aston Villa have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 10 matches.
- Christian Benteke has been in fine goalscoring form of late, scoring in each of Villa’s last four Premier League matches, equalling the club record.
The Key Men
Olivier Giroud & Christian Benteke
Olivier Giroud is averaging a goal every two full games he plays in, which is a better ratio than many would think.
Arsenal need his goals and put the visiting side under early pressure. Aston Villa have a tendency to panic when they are up against it. The North London team want to make a statement to their rivals who are sitting pretty in 4th, Giroud is expected to start and will be keen to improve upon his somewhat less surprising statistics regarding clear-cut chances. It is very poor and his team are desperate for him to put away more of his easier chances.
Christian Benteke is only marginally scoring more often than Olivier Giroud when comparing time spent on the field of play. That aside, Benteke’s goal attempts statistics are far superior than the Frenchman’s who has a whopping 53% clear-cut chance conversion rate. The Belgian hot prospect has been a lot more clinical in front of goal and but is less willing to shoot, choosing instead to wait for the right opening.
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