- Arsenal team news: double blow ahead of Sunderland + Ramsey update
- Duo to miss key game: My 4-2-3-1 Arsenal line-up v Sunderland
- Arsenal blow: Attacker ruled out for 6 weeks with ankle injury
- Arsenal boss set to hand start to 23-year-old against Sunderland
- League Cup draw: Arsenal face Southampton in last 8
- [Photos] Alexis Sanchez reveals frustration after Ballon d’Or Snub
- [Tweets] Arsenal players celebrate on Twitter after beating Reading
- [Player Ratings] Arsenal 2-0 Reading: The Ox & Gibbs Impress
- Video: Arsenal 2-0 Reading: Oxlade-Chamberlain double sinks Royals
- Teams: Arsenal v Reading: Jeff & Perez start
PREVIEW: Villa v Arsenal: Team News, Preferred XI + Prediction
Arsenal take on Aston Villa at Villa Park tonight with another vital three points up for grabs.
We’ve dropped to third in the Premier League table after both Manchester City and Chelsea picked up wins over the weekend, but a victory this evening would see us leapfrog our rivals back up to top spot.
All the other six teams currently in the top seven won at the weekend, so it’s important we don’t slip up and come away with all three points tonight.
We also have the added incentive of dishing out some revenge on Paul Lambert’s side after they beat us 3-1 at the Emirates on the opening day of the season. I know we didn’t play well that day, but the big decisions certainly went against us – particularly the second penalty and the Koscielny sending off – so let’s show them it was a fluke by battering them tonight.
The big news this week was that Theo Walcott will miss the rest of the season after rupturing a cruciate ligament in his knee during our win over Tottenham last week.
Young German attacker Serge Gnabry was excellent in the game and has a good chance of retaining his place, but I’d prefer to see Lukas Podolski start on the left with Santi Cazorla moving across to the right side.
Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud will both return to the starting line-up after recovering from knocks but Thomas Vermaelen is out of the game with a knee problem.
The Belgian defender joins Aaron Ramsey on the sidelines while Kieran Gibbs is also a big doubt, so Nacho Monreal will continue at left-back.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played 45 minutes for the under-21′s last week so should be back on the bench tonight with Wenger likely to be cautious with him after five months out injured.
As for Villa, they should welcome back Ron Vlaar and Nathan Baker, while Gabby Agbonlahor is also expected to return. Let’s hope he doesn’t have another blinder like he did at the Emirates back in August.
As I said earlier, Gnabry has a good chance of keeping his place but this is how I’d line-up for the game. You’ll notice I’ve gone for Mathieu Flamini ahead of Mikel Arteta in midfield. Wenger is almost certainly going to play Arteta, but I’d go for Flamini.
Villa Park is a huge pitch and Villa have energetic youngsters like Delph and Westwood in the middle of the park. Lambert’s men are also quick on the counter-attack, as they proved at the Emirates, so I think Flamini would be able to cope better under these conditions compared to Mikel.
Villa have a terrible home record this season – winning just two of their 10 games so far at Villa Park – while we have the best away form in the division, so we should be confident of bringing back all three points to the capital.
Aston Villa 0-2 Arsenal. COYG!!!!
What are your thoughts about tonight’s game? What team would you pick?