Aston Villa perspective: David Grimble, Up The Villa.
We’ve picked up a few niggling injuries in the last few weeks, with question marks still remaining over Joe Bennett, Darren Bent or Charles N’Zogbia ahead of the Arsenal match. Normally a Lambert starting eleven is ridiculously hard to predict, but in the last two games he’s gone with the same starting eleven, and I expect that to be the case once again come Saturday.
After the win against Sunderland, Villa fans went into three brutal looking games against both of the Manchester sides and Arsenal with a bit of hope that we might pick up a point or two, but so far we’ve come out empty handed. Despite going 2-0 up against Manchester United, I still fancied United to come back, for us Villa fans have seen it happen way too many times over the years. Naturally they did, and despite an impressive performance from our young team, we were left with nothing. Last time out against Man City we were comfortably beaten 5-0, though the referee did us no favours whatsoever - a couple of questionable penalty decisions ultimately killed the game.
Arsenal are one of those sides that we tend to do okay against, though more often away from home for some unknown reason - one of my favourite football facts of recent times is that bearded Villa legend Olof Mellberg scored the first competitive goal at the Emirates. Last year we were beaten 3-0 in North London, and lost 2-1 at home in a game that saw Marc Albrighton score the 20,000th goal in the Premier League.
Aston Villa to win at 4.90. After I correctly predicted a 20.00 shot last time out (I hope some of you were on it), I’m going to start things off gently. I think this is a great price on your run of the mill home win. We seem to raise our game for these late Saturday kick-offs, and the fans are usually up for it. Arsenal showed at Norwich they can struggle at times away from home, and three points would mean a hell of a lot to us Villans.
Andreas Weimann to score the first goal at 14.00. He got two against United, and out of all our younger players, he looks like he might have the talent to go far. He frequently finds space and gets himself into good positions, so I think the 14.00 on offer is a great price for a top finisher.
Mikel Arteta to score at 6.25. He scored a wonder free kick against us last year, and this is a tremendous price for someone of his quality. Our midfield can be easily bypassed, and he could find himself in plenty of space in dangerous positions.
Score prediction: Aston Villa 2 – 1 Arsenal (17.00)
Arsenal perspective: James McNicholas, Gunnerblog.
Kieran Gibbs is fit again and could come in to allow Thomas Vermaelen to return to centre-back. Theo Walcott is still out, so Arsene will choose between Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the freshly available Gervinho. The manager may be tempted to rest Jack Wilshere: the midfield tyro played 90 minutes in midweek, and Arsenal have a testing tie at Everton on Wednesday.
Arsenal will hope the derby day thumping of Spurs will act as a turning point for their form. Defeats to Norwich, Manchester United and Schalke had the Gunners reeling, but a couple of wins on the trot and Champions League qualification have lifted spirits considerably.
Villa's recent home form has been poor, but in Christian Benteke they have exactly the kind of powerful striker liable to cause us problems. In this game last season Arsenal needed a late winner from Yossi Benayoun; I fancy it to be tight this time around too.
Over 2.5 goals at 1.6. Arsenal’s last two Premier League games have produced a total of 13 goals. With their lethal attack and leaky defence, I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Darren Bent to score the last goal at 9.5. Darren Bent has scored six times in his last eight league matches against Arsenal as well as notching in his only FA Cup appearance against them to date. He's unlikely to start the game but why not have a bet on him grabbing the last goal after coming off the bench.
Mertesacker to score first at 22.0. Per Mertesacker opened his Arsenal account last weekend at Spurs. I quite fancy him to make it two in two league games.
Score prediction: Aston Villa 1 - 3 Arsenal (14.00)