Considering the fact that contrasting expectations were set for these two outfits, it’s quite incredible to look at the league table four games into the new Premier League campaign. Despite languishing in the lower regions of the table for the last few years, Aston Villa now find themselves 2nd after a hugely successful opening ten games. Arsenal on the other hand have struggled somewhat, currently being placed in 7th.
In comparison to previous summers, there’s no doubt that Aston Villa’s business put quality over quantity and this started with the appointment of Roy Keane as Paul Lambert’s assistant. We’ll never know just how much of an influence Keane has but already, results have improved. They’ve dropped just two points from their opening four games and after grabbing a win against Liverpool last Saturday, it shall come as no surprise to read that optimism is high at Villa Park. Of course, their home form was something that blighted them through large portions of the previous campaign, so it will be interesting to see if they can continue to cause surprises now they return to their home soil this weekend.
Arsenal meanwhile are struggling to get out of the blocks and they have only managed a return of six points from their opening four games. Admittedly, they are still unbeaten during this period, and did snatch a 2-2 draw with reigning champions Manchester City in their last game. However, for a side who are regarded as title contenders, this is a return that won’t be seen as acceptable by supporters. To make matters worse for Arsene Wenger, his side were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Borussia Dortmund during the week and it remains to be seen how they respond against a team who have been so successful over the last few weeks.
As for team news, Aston Villa are approaching this clash with a doubt over Ron Vlaar who is still struggling with a calf problem. In other news, Libor Kozak and Christian Benteke will continue to sit on the sidelines, but there could be a place for Joe Cole who returns from a calf injury. Arsenal on the other hand could recall both Mathieu Flamini and Calum Chambers, who were forced to miss the Gunners’ last game. However, that’s where the good news stops, with Mathieu Debuchy, Yaya Sanogo, Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry and Olivier Giroud all out for the long-term.
In terms of a prediction, we’re going to go against the form and tip an Arsenal victory. Despite Aston Villa’s recent results, there’s still no doubt that the visitors hold the stronger squad on paper. With Villa being renowned strugglers over the years at home as well, our prediction will be a 3-1 win for Arsene Wenger’s men.