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Arsenal will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat in an astonishing 28 games when they visit the midlands on Saturday.

Arsenal's unbeaten run, spanning back to last season, came to an end on Tuesday when Sevilla beat an under-strength Arsenal side 3-1 in Sevilla.

Obviously, a 3-1 defeat isn't the best way to warm up for the start of an important month, but a 4-0 away win is. That's what Villa managed when they visited Blackburn on Wednesday.

In fact, Villa have won five of their last seven games. Not the best time to be playing them, I'm sure you'll agree.

Martin O'Neil's side have steadily been climbing up the table for some time now, and although it has gone largley un-noticed, they look like contending for a European place in the Premiership this season.

That said, Arsenal are sitting nicely at the top of the Premiership, three points ahead of second placed United with a game in hand.

It's vital for Arsene Wenger's men to get a win over Villa for a few reasons. The first and most important is to bounce back from that defeat, and to show the character that Arsene Wenger has spoken of this season. The second is that Manchester United face Fulham at home on Monday, and they are almost definantly going to win. Third of all, a loss would see Villa move to within three points of Arsenal...

Vital Quotes:

Aston Villa striker Ashley Young says his side can't wait to face Arsenal after two fantastic results agaisnt 'Boro and Blackburn: 'We've got a 3-0 win and a 4-0 win so things are looking good going into Saturday's game. Everybody is looking forward to that game.

'It promises to be a cracker in front of another sell-out crowd.

We just have to keep doing what we have been doing in recent weeks and hopefully we can celebrate another three points.

'They are at the top of the table and are quite obviously one of the best, if not the best, team in the league.

'It is another level up but as we showed against Chelsea we can win against these sides if we play our game.

We are looking forward to it. It promises to be another great night.'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spoke of Arsenal's injury problems going into December: 'I don’t know how long it will be for Cesc.

'We hope it will be very, very, very short maybe he’ll even be OK for Saturday. But the medical staff are not optimistic about that.

The worst case for him realistically is 10 days.

'We have a slight chance to get Gael Clichy and Alexander Hleb back. Mathieu Flamini will be available. Of course Van Persie is still out.'

Aston Villa Team News:

Villa will have a full squad to choose from at the weekend. Anyone remeber when I last said that about Arsenal?

Player to watch: Gabriel Agbonlahor

Agbonlahor has been in fine form this season. He's scoring goals, creating goals and being an all round pain in the arse for defences all over the country. He's fast, strong, direct and full of energy. He'll be a threat from the first minute to the last.

Arsenal Team News:

It's a good job Arsenal have one of the best physio teams in the country, because the injury list is growing by the day.

Cesc Fabregas is out for around 10 days with a thigh strain, although in all honesty, I wouldn't be suprised if it was longer.

Robin Van Persie has suffered a set back and will be missing for most of December.

Gael Clichy, Alex Hleb and Abou Diaby are also all missing though injury.

On the plus side, Flamini will return after suffering a thigh injury.

Player to watch: Nicklas Bendtner

The Dane has made steady progress this season, and had a fantastic game against Sevilla midweek. If his recent performances are anything to go by, he could just prove vital not only in this match, but throughout December.

I'd say he's now third in the pecking order at Arsenal, for now at least.

Ref Watch:

Chris Foy will referee this one.

Match Prediction:

I'll have to go with a home win. Arsenal will be under strength again with some key players missing. Although the return of Flamini and Gallas will be a massive boost, Villa's form has been outstanding. 2-1 Villa.

Writer:Nick Simmonett
Date:Thursday November 29 2007
Time: 10:37PM


Come on simmo. our form has been a lot better. Villa are not a good side compared to us.
29/11/2007 23:15:00
"Van Persie has suffered a set back and will be missing for most of December." What!?! I thought he's ready to comeback in December? What happen, did he fell into a flight of stairs? Wenger mentioned that "'Gael Clichy (thigh) and Alexander Hleb (hamstring) will have tests tomorrow, for them it looks optimistic." That's good news. We need Clichy in, since we are going to be tested on the wings. Traore didn't have the best of matches against Sevilla. He's young and has potential, but he's not yet ready to fill in for Clichy just yet. I remember the same instance for Clichy, he wasn't ready to replace Cashley a few seasons back, but look at him now. If Cesc can't play that's a big lost. Well, those people who said Arsenal hasn't received any injuries to major players, can eat their words now, it happened even before this match coming up. Anyway, I predict a draw against Villa.
29/11/2007 23:19:00
Naughty naughty Simmo! The Villains are in form - it's true - and maybe last season I would have expected a torrid draw or even a loss... but, this team is practically demanding for us to expect more from them, so that's exactly what I intend to do - 1-0 to the Gunners!
30/11/2007 00:32:00
Arsene didn't mention Theo - ok as it wasn't a bad injury? Looks like the team picks itself again: Ade and Eduardo up front; Rosicky (in the middle for Cesc please, that's his natural position, which worked well against Wigan after he shifted there), Denilson (make-shift LM?), Flamini, Eboue; Clichy (Hoyte as back-up in case he's not ready), captain Gallas, Kolo, Sagna; Almunia; with a bench of Bendtner, Theo (both are impact players), Gilberto, Diarra, Lehmann.
30/11/2007 00:36:00
I think Bendtner will only make it to the bench, which means he will have to make an impact as a sub. The injuries are not great news, but this squad needs to cope with that in the 1st game of a tough month. A draw would be a decent result, though I am optimistic about a win.
30/11/2007 01:06:00
Don't ask me why, but I am worried about this game. Just a funny feeling.
30/11/2007 01:25:00
Oi Tubby - Where did you get this van Persie info? I can't find anything about it anywhere.
30/11/2007 01:27:00
On the Arsenal website: RVP missing, Clichy, Hleb and Cesc very likely to be missing. I am not very optimistic about this game.
30/11/2007 01:51:00
I just hope it's a good game, and i'm sure you fellas will play it in the right spirit as you always do. With Villa we've been winning by large margins really, but they honestly mask what have been some fairly average performances - doing what we had to, but not really getting out of second gear. The difference being this year we are winning a lot more of these, and drawing a lot less. Villa always do seem to step up a gear against the bigger teams though, so although I couldn't really predict us beating you lot it could happen....but at a minimum I would hope for an entertaining game...and i'd snap your hand off right now for a 1-1 draw!
30/11/2007 02:18:00
On the Arsenal site, it said that the medical staff are not optimistic about Cesc playing against Villa but there is a slight chance Clichy and Hleb will be playing. If they do play, keep them on the bench till the 2nd half, then again, I remember last season, when Wenger played Van Perse against Man Utd at the Emirates. He scored the equalizer but got injured for the rest of the season. That might happen to our players again, if they get rush out to play.
30/11/2007 02:23:00
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