Aston Villa vs Arsenal Preview

Despite our ‘for sale’ status the positivity around the club has been refreshing. Beating Liverpool showed that our good form was no fluke, and Lambert and Keane have assembled a competitive, solid team. Arsenal always do well at Villa Park though, and will have a point to prove having suffered disappointment in Dortmund…

Lambert on Arsenal

“Nobody should be under-estimating Arsenal. They are a right good side themselves. They will be round about it in the Premier League this season.

“They came up against a team (Borussia Dortmund) who were fantastic on the night. It’s a tough place to go and try to win a game.

“That said, we will go into it full of confidence.”

Wenger on Villa clash

“We want to respond. We had a disappointing performance more than a defeat.

“We have confidence in our strengths and we want to show that we can perform in the game that is important on Saturday.”

Wenger on Senderos

“He came here at a very young age and he made a good career. He had ups and downs because he had injuries but he’s at a good age for a central defender at 29.

“He went to the final in the Champions League and he had always the talent. He had a lot of injury problems and it’s good he can show now how good he is.”

Memory Match

24th November 2012 Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 0

Arsenal have enjoyed trips to Villa Park in recent years but they failed to take points back home in Lambert’s first season. Substitute Brett Holman’s powerful shot (that could have won the game) sticks in the memory.

Villa – Last five matches at home: W 2, D 2, L 1

Arsenal – Last five matches away: W 2, D 2, L 1

Villa haven’t won against Arsenal at home in the last five attempts.
One to Watch

Danny Welbeck – Came very close to scoring on his Arsenal debut last weekend and has enjoyed playing Villa in the past. He’s scored twice against Villa during his last two starts.

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

In recent years we’ve performed fairly well against Arsenal. When we have lost, it’s usually by a single goal. Somewhat incredibly though, we haven’t won at Villa Park against Arsenal since 1998.

Agbonlahor and Weimann will be looking to emulate the three goals scored by Joachim and Dublin on that occasion in December 1998, though the rarity of our shots on target is a concern. While Villa have used them to good effect, we’ve only had six shots on target this season. Such a conservative approach might not be advisable against Arsenal, who have scored in all four games so far. Vlaar’s likely absence might also come back to haunt us. As a clash of two unbeaten teams, something might have to give.

What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide

Villa’s stoic defending against Liverpool after Agbonlahor’s goal was admirable and represented a perfect tactical plan for an away trip to Anfield. However, in front of a packed Villa crowd (recent results will have helped this!) Villa will need to take the game to their London opponents. Villa’s defensive duties were impressive last Saturday but this isn’t an approach we can realistically adapt at home. Hopefully our squad can build upon the great work of the first four games, with Cleverley continuing where he left off after a good debut. Home form has needed addressing for the last few seasons so let’s hope we have a particularly bold Villa performance.

Why Villa have got this game in the bag

Our defensive record has been the most surprising aspect of this season. We’ve kept the most clean sheets of any league side so far (3) but what is most intriguing is that Arsenal have yet to keep one this season. Against a disciplined Villa side this could tip the result in our favour.

With Benteke’s return to training sure to have given the already high team spirit a lift, Villa might be under less pressure than Wenger’s men. Records are there to be broken, and there’s no reason why Villa can’t defy recent history and beat Arsenal. After all, a home win is overdue against the Gunners after fifteen attempts. UTV.

Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball

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