High-flying Aston Villa hope to claim another major scalp after defeating title contenders Liverpool at Anfield to climb to second place in the Premier League standings. Meanwhile, Arsenal may be still unbeaten in the league, but being already six points off the top of the standings, this is clearly a must-win game for them.
Aston Villa have come a long way since Paul Lambert took over the reigns in the summer of 2012, seeing as how the boss not only managed to seriously trim down the wage bill, but at the same time largely improved club’s fortunes. The Scottish manager has transformed some lower division footballers into Premier League stars and he continues to work wonders despite operating on a tight budget. Despite the fact that the Villans crashed out of the Capital One Cup at the hands of Leyton Orient, this has been one of the best starts to the season in recent years, with Aston Villa recording three wins and a draw in the opening four Premiership fixtures. Back to back triumphs over Hull City and Liverpool have acted as a major confidence boost for the players, who will now fancy their chances against struggling Arsenal. With key defender Ron Vlaar likely to miss out once again, the hosts could find it hard to prevent the Gunners from scoring, but they should have plenty of opportunities to hit the visitors on the break through pacey attackers Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann. Joe Cole is expected to return from a calf problem, but Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak remain out of contention.
While only selling back up player Thomas Vermaelen, Arsene Wenger has splashed the cash this summer, signing several quality players, but his failure to add another defender and holding midfielder could come back to haunt him. Arsenal’s worst fears became a reality as Mathieu Debuchy suffered a broken ankle last weekend, leaving the Gunners desperately short of cover at the back, so no wonder the Professor is now looking towards the free agents market. The 2-0 midweek defeat to Borussia Dortmund created additional problems for Arsenal, who are now winless in last three matches and face a potentially tricky away tie against red-hot Aston Villa. New signing Danny Welbeck will be desperate to get on the scoresheet after missing some good chances against City and Dortmund, and the England international is 2.63 (13/8) to score at Villa Park. There have been some good news for Arsene Wenger, who has confirmed that Calum Chambers, Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini have been passed fit to face Aston Villa, whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be drafted into the side.
High-flying Aston Villa certainly have enough quality to score past Arsenal, who have yet to keep a clean sheet in this year’s Premier League campaign. The Gunners will have to show a massive improvement if they want to win at Villa Park, but I can see them scoring at least one goal on Saturday afternoon.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 10/11
Bookmaker: William Hill
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