The match between Aston Villa and Arsenal will be held this Monday, January 13, 2014 (12:00 PM Pacific, 20:00 GMT) at Villa Park in Birmingham. It’s an important game for the Gunners, which would retake the lead in the EPL with a win. On the other hand, Aston Villa are in the 11th place with 23 points, five points above the relegation zone. This means that, although they’re six positions above relegation, they need to win points at home to get some tranquility.
The Villains’ manager, Paul Lambert, can rely on striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and goalkeeper Brad Guzan to play in this match from the beginning. They both missed the last game -against Sheffield United in the FA Cup- due to niggling injuries but now are fit and available for Monday’s match. Nevertheless, central defenders Ron Vlaar and Nathan Baker are in doubt. Vlaar is returning from a calf injury, and Baker got a slight hamstring injury minutes before the match against Sheffield.
Lambert accepted that the Gunners are favorites to win the match, but this doesn’t bother him, and it seems that he even feels comfortable about it. He said: “The Arsenal match might be a good game for us because nobody expects us to get anything”. “We just have to go out and play with freedom and try to win a game”.
He also spoke about the last match against Arsenal, in which Aston Villa won 1-3 at Emirates Stadium: “Everybody expected Arsenal to win the game. It was just the way the game transpired on that day. We got a great result and played really well. You’ve got to work hard against them. You’ve got to play without the ball a lot of times. We looked really threatening on the counterattack that day”. (Source: Aston Villa Official Website)
Although Arsenal is near the top of the EPL standings, Aston Villa will look for the victory in order to give joy to their supporters, after the fans’ whistles in the end of the FA Cup match against Sheffield, in which the villains lost playing at home against a League One team.
On the other hand, Arsenal’s manager, Arsene Wenger, is in trouble after Theo Walcott’s ligament injury, which will sideline him for at least six months. He has other great players to play in the offensive midfield, but Walcott was key in Wenger’s scheme.
One of these players is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is training again after a five-month knee injury. But the boss made a distinction between Ox and Walcott: “It’s good to have him back. But [Walcott and him] are different types of players. Oxlade-Chamberlain is a bit more of a midfielder and Walcott is more a striker type. One doesn’t compensate the other one because they are different players.” (Source: Arsenal official web page)
In addition, midfielder Aaron Ramsey and left back Kieran Gibbs seem to be short for Monday, but they will be available for the next match -against Fulham- for sure.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Luna; Delph, Westwook, El Ahmadi; Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscienly, Monreal; Flamini, Arteta; Wilshere, Özil, Cazorla; Giroud.
Form (Premier League matches only)
Aston Villa: L L L D W
Arsenal: L D W W W
Aston Villa won 3-1 their last match against Arsenal, playing on the road in their first match of the season, on August 17. However, they only won that match out of the last six, with four losses and one draw. A curious fact is that the last three games that Aston Villa defeated Arsenal were playing away, in London. The last match that Aston Villa won at home against the Gunners was on December 1998, and since then, Arsenal won in Birmingham in seven opportunities and tied seven times too.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal Prediction
As stated above, Arsenal is the favorite team to win the match. Even when they’ve lost their game against Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium, now they’re in a better shape, and Aston Villa are in a bad moment, after being eliminated in the FA Cup. My prediction is a 0-3 victory for Arsenal.
Aston Villa vs Arsenal TV Schedule
The match will be televised on NBC Sports Network (USA), and Sky Sports 1 (UK).