Arsenal ride a new found wave of confidence into their next Barclay’s Premier League game this Saturday against a down on their luck Aston Villa. After such a promising start to the new season, Villa’s engine has sputtered lately seeing them lose their last two games to Middlesbrough and Newcastle. Arsenal, on the other hand, continues the always fluctuating roller coaster ride of the 08/09 season, and at the moment we are sitting high up in the air after impressive wins against Manchester United and Wigan in the Carling Cup. Whether this form continues or is it just another false dawn remains to be seen.
All the talk this week has been about the Carling wonder kids, and rightly so. Though Arsene did find time to talk about our opponents for the weekend. ‘They are physically strong and technically efficient. They have a lot of pace and can adjust their style. They can play in the air and on the ground.
‘It’s very, very open Premier League now. It’s tougher this year and more interesting, and it looks like anyone can drop points, which is good for us.
‘It’s a massive game – a big, big test after the United game. We’ve built up belief and this game will give us a big answer.’
Martin O’Neal is concerned about playing an on form Arsenal. ‘On their own patch they are a very fine footballing side.
‘It will be an interesting game because they now think they are back on track for the title. It was a big game for them against Manchester United last weekend – it was a game they had to win and they did it.
‘Now it’s up to us because we have to try to win a game to put ourselves back on track.’
Arsenal Team News:
After a competent but not sterling preformance against United, Bendtner will be hopeful in maintaining his place in the side, as Adebayor may be fit. The Togolese striker will face a fitness test early Saturday morning to determine whether he will be involved in this match. Almunia is on track to return to the lineup, but I don’t see the point in risking his fitness because Fabianski is more than capable of holding up the fort in the bleach blonde Spaniards absence.
Captain Eboue is still out with knee injury, and Robin van Persie sits out the last game of his voluntary suspension.
Player to watch: Abou Diaby
Aboouuuuu! The lanky Frenchman has been a revelation this season playing in the hole up front. At many times during this campaign Arsenal has looked like they lack balance, but with Diaby playing just off the front man, we look fluent. Expect Abou to get another goal today.
Aston Villa Team News:
The big question for Villa is whether big Norwegian striker, John Carew, will be fit enough to start. He has been passed fit enough to warrant a place in the squad, so chances are he will be challenging Gallas and Silvestre for headers come kick off. Stilliyan Petrov and Luke Young could also be back in the Villa team.
Player to watch: Gabriel Agbonlahor
The lightning quick Englishman will look to cause the Arsenal defense all sorts of problems, just like he did last year at the Emirates. His speed poses a problem for every team he lines up against, and if he gets confident then he is almost impossible to control.
Just curious who would win a straight out sprint between him and Theo?
Match Facts & Stats
Home and away
League (inc PL): Arsenal 64 wins, A Villa 58, Draws 36
Prem: Arsenal 16 wins, A Villa 5, Draws 11
at Arsenal only
League (inc PL): Arsenal 42 wins, A Villa 20, Draws 17
Prem: Arsenal 9 wins, A Villa 2, Draws 5
Mike Riley will be the head official for this match. So far this season he has refereed 9 matches brandishing 39 yellows and 2 reds, giving him an astonishing 4.56 card per game average. Only Mike Dean has a higher card per game count.
I think the main factor in this game is where it is to be played. At the Emirates, excluding Hull of course, Arsenal have had no problems. They’ve always been able to get their game flowing, and once that happens, we rarely lose. 3-1 to the Arsenal.
22/11 (Sat)- Manchester City (A)- Premier League
25/11 (Tue)- Dynamo Kyiv (H)- Champions League
30/11 (Sun)- Chelsea (A)- Premier League