Villa Park, Birmingham
Sunday, 13th December, 2015
Sunday’s first Premier League encounter marks the two teams that are on the opposite end of the Premier League spectrum. While Arsenal FC are trying to get to the top spot of the league, Aston Villa are trying to wriggle their way out of the bottom one.
Team News & Tactical Analysis
Aston Villa FC
Aston Villa are in all sorts of trouble, gaining just six points from 15 games thus far, and unsurprisingly find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table. In a season where they have been able to notch up just a solitary win, they now find themselves in a position where they need a run of wins to climb out of the relegation zone.
However, there is some good news in store for the Villans, as Jack Grealish has been returned to the matchday squad. The Birmingham-born youngster has been one of the few sources of inspiration for Aston Villa this season, and manager Remi Garde would be looking to the 20-year-old to hurt Arsenal FC from the wings.
Grealish had to sit out Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw against Southampton due to disciplinary actions taken against him by the club, but his addition to the side would surely inject a lot more pace and creativity.
The Villans will also be happy about the fact that full-back Leanardo Bacuna and striker Rudy Gestede are both fit to start, and this could provide them with the boost that they need. However, Micah Richards is still ruled out with a knee goinjury, and their problems at the back remain a worry in general.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Guzan; Bacuna, Lescott, Okore, Hutton; Gueye, Sanchez, Veretout; Ayew, Gestede, Grealish.
The Gunners have been in fine form this season, except for the little glitch in November, when they failed to win any Premier League games. However, they seem to have passed that phase, and have regained their winning ways, as they showed with the convincing 3-0 victory at Olympiakos.
Wenger’s men are getting back to form, and even without their star forward Alexis Sanchez, the team is being carried forward by the likes of Olivier Giroud, Mesut zil, and the fit-again Aaron Ramsey, who has added a lot of dynamism to the midfield.
With the back four also being more or less consistent, and keeper Petr Cech behind them, it seems a bit of a steep task for Aston Villa to score agains the Czech Republic international.
Arsene Wenger is said to have been preparing full-back Calum Chambers to play the holding midfield role in the absence Francis Coquelin, and this match presents the Frenchman with the perfect opportunity to try out the 20-year-old.
Theo Walcott is also expected to get a start, and his pace could cause the Aston Villa defence a lot of trouble, especially in the absence of Micah Richards.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Bellerin; Ramsey, Chambers; Campbell, zil, Walcott, Giroud.
- Aston Villa are currently on a 14-match winless run. This is the longest winless run in their long league history.
- Petr Cech is just one clean sheet away from equalling David James’ Premier League record of 169 clean sheets.
- Olivier Giroud is also on the brink of a personal milestone, needing just one goal to reach the 50-goal mark in the Premier League.
- Arsenal FC have not lost any of their last 16 Premier League matches at Villa Park.
- Aston Villa have won less points against Arsenal FC at Villa Park (18), than away at Highbury/Emirates (20).
Player to watch out for
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal FC)
The Frenchman finds his best form against the Villans, and has in fact scored in all of his last four meetings against them. Also, with the personal milestone of 50 Premier League goals dangling above his head, Giroud would be hungry as ever. The midweek hat-trick that sealed Arsenal FC’s place in the Champions League Round of 16 would have given him and the rest of the Gunners a lot of confidence, and Villa need to watch out for him.
Aston Villa FC 0-4 Arsenal FC
A rout looks to be on the cards, as Arsenal FC are in sublime form. With Mesut zil serving up some delicious passes to the forwards, it seems impossible for a hapless Aston Villa to get anything out of this game. Giroud, Walcott, Campbell and Ramsey could be in for quite a few goals.