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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Aston Villa vs. Arsenal

Villa Park

01/12/2007

17:15

Villa V Arsenal Preview

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.




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The Journalist

Writer: Nick Simmonett  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday November 29 2007

Time: 10:37PM

Your Comments

Come on simmo. our form has been a lot better. Villa are not a good side compared to us.
Goofle
"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.
BMF
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!
Andy-bayor
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.
Louisa
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.
prits
Don't ask me why, but I am worried about this game. Just a funny feeling.
Rocky7
Oi Tubby - Where did you get this van Persie info? I can't find anything about it anywhere.
Rocky7
On the Arsenal website: RVP missing, Clichy, Hleb and Cesc very likely to be missing. I am not very optimistic about this game.
AB_Arsenal
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!
YatesyVillain
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.
BMF
Your welcome, YatesyVillain. I hope Villa does well this season, as they have been good to watch, not just because they beat chelski. Now, why can't the spud fans be this nice?
BMF
I think we can win this, this is not the same team as last year. We will bounce back in style. Villa were lucky, like yatesyV said, and their run has to end at some point!
afri-gooner
and I hope fabregas doesn't play, we need him later in the month. Let's not aggravate the injury. We're such a fickle bunch - one day we say that our reserve team is as strong as the first, and a day later we collapse with anxiety at the thought of any but our best players being on the pitch. I trust the team, and Wenger. We should rally behind them. Surely Sevilla away is ore difficult than Villa away, no disrespect!
afri-gooner
Reo Coker's suspended, so they're not quite full strength, but this will be a tough one.
Little Dutch
Blimey even I am suprised that you have gone for a Villa win. I wish I was that optimistic. Big bonus for us that Hleb and Fabregas are missing but I just love Arsenals style of play and think you guys will teach us a footballing lesson tommorow so I'd be delighted just to get a point.
DeanoVilla
Agbonlahor is a real doubt for Villa, hopefully he won't make it for this match. Carew always causes us problems but he is still getting match fit & the other strikers they have aren't that good. It will be a tough match & I can see Arsenal having to come from behind again to get anything!!
Ashburton Gooner
It's always a tough game at V.P. I'd take a draw now with the injuries we have.
hatespur
Afri Gooner Villa on the form they are in right now are as tough as Sevilla, maybe even more considering the league position of both the teams. Villa are only 3 points behind the second place side. i just want three points without any injuries. a game similar to last season's boting 1-0 win at Villa Park would also be weclomed..
luckys_10
It'd have to be alucky goal from somebody else this year with Diaby injured.
hatespur
It will be a difficult game but I am a believer in this squad. Young, Agbonlahor are terrific on the wings but they will be up against Clichy (hopefully) and Sagna and I know who I'd put my money on. Also we keep the ball better than most teams so Villa will get tired and they will have less opportunities. Losing Cesc is a blow but we will find out if the others (who moan about playing time) are ready to step up. We lost Gallas earlier and the team stepped up. We lost Thierry before and the team stepped up. Just believe.
Gael-Force
It is a chance for Denilson, Diarra and Rosicky to stake their claim for a central role. Denison so far has not shown Cesc's precosciousness. Diarra is at the moment overrated and needs to prove himself. I love Rosicky but he is nowhere near his dortmund days. They should take the examples of Hleb and Flamini, who have blossomed this year and are more decisive. If Clichy is injured, stick Matthieu as left back.
Gael-Force
I read on a Villa blog that Gabby may be out. He was carrying a knock from all accounts. That'd be handy.
hatespur
http://www.astonvilla-mad.co.uk/news/loadroll.asp?cid=ED61&id=365194
hatespur
Give me a draw now, and I will happily take it! Mind you, I did say that before the Blackburn match as well! The fitness of Gabby will be major for Villa. Arsenal have the depth in squad to cope with injuries, at present Villa don't. This will be a great test for us to see how far we have progressed. We definitely are progressing with a good young (English!) team, and realistically I think we can challenge for 5th spot but we are still a long way behind Arsenal etc. Saturday will be interesting to see how far behind!
krfeskivilla
You have proved against Chelsea that you're not that far behind now. Who'll replace Reo-Coker?
hatespur
Craig Gardner will replace NRC. Another local lad (Villa fan). He has a great deal of potential. He has been playing right back for England U21, but is naturally a midfield player. Great engine and attitude. Quite tough in tackle and packs a great shot. Lacks a bit in panache at the moment, but we have high hopes for him at VP.
krfeskivilla
You boys do bring through some good local lads. I guess that is a benefit of Doug Ellis's days of being a tight a**e. Even nicer when they join your local rivals and promptly score a goal for you I suppose:)
hatespur
in the event clichy is not fit, we hv to play with sagna, toure, gallas and flamster at the back, diarra, rosicky (CM), eboue and denilson ( RM and LM) with adebayor and walcott starting up front.. we will need walcotts pace and ade's ball winning abilities.. with that starting 11 a win is not impossible.. if hleb and clichy is back by tuesday, then newcastle shouldnt be a problem either
McGooner
oh yeah, if we're gonna win this, we need a 4-4-2.. so hopefully wenger wont stick eduardo on the wings and go for 4-5-1
McGooner
Looking forward to this one, MON is doing a great job. Has a draw written all over it, both team have solid defences so I would go for 1-1. I have noticed that the Gooners always look a bit jaded after CL games, so their may be a little ray of light for Villa fans
Topspur1
Well Wenger made 8 changes for the CL, so if Villa do beat us its got nothing to do with tiredness, especially as Villa had an equally tough match at Ewood Park. If they win then it will be because they were better than us on the day, I will only get annoyed about it if Arsene comes out afterwards & says we looked jaded from the travelling in midweek. Hopefully should the worst happen he won't make excuses. After all with the start we have had, he doesn't need to say anything other than it was an off day!!
Ashburton Gooner
I am surprised at some of the uncertainty in the comments of Arsenal fans seeing they are unbeaten in the Premier and are playing such good football. MAYBE at long last Villa are starting to earn respect for being a decent side. We are not there yet, but I do believe in a couple of seasons time we could be a genuine threat to the likes of Arsenal, United and Chelsea. Time will tell.
krfeskivilla
I will be so nervous tomorrow. Is this what it feels like to have raised expectations? Usually I just assume we lose these games, but since Chelsea and our recent run of form I have this strange feeling called hope. Caught in 2 minds as I do have 50 on Arsenal for the Premiership (also have 20 on Villa finishing ahead of Spurs!!!). 1-1 would suit me.
CLVilla
krfeskivilla, I don't think there is any real fear from us gooners, its more that whilst I think nearly every arsenal fan believe the club are on the verge of something massive, we all know that as a squad they are not quite there yet. Part of it is age, so the lack of experience although they are gaining this all the time & the second part is that creatively we tend to lack if Cesc & Hleb are out. We still retain the ball & can out pass anyone, but we do lack something. I can't speak for anyone else, but I genuinely believe this is a real test for us tomorrow, we need to cope with injuries to players like Cesc & Hleb especially against decent in-form teams like yourselves. If we can't cope, then we wouldn't deserve to win the title anyway!!
Ashburton Gooner
write villa off at your own peril, we played chelsea cleanly off the park, as we did blackburn away the other night - i think you lot would have been over the moon beating blackburn 4 nil away from home!!! although i expect villa to lose this, our current team continue to suprise and improve with every kick of the ball. it will be a good match never the less.
Stig
also is diaby likely to return for this one? i would be gutted not to see hleb on the pitch tomorrow, he is a real pleasure to watch.
Stig
Diaby is still out injured, will be out for another 2 weeks.
prits
This will be one of those much vaunted tests we have been given all season - how will we react to a defeat? The reality is that stripped of much of the creativity in RvP, Cesc & Hleb our problem will be creating chances. Even Flamini, who has brought much needed tempo to the midfield isn't sure to start. Gilberto, for all his other qualities, just doesn't provide this. If Rosicky and Eboue are both fit then I would hope Denilson and Diarra make up the centre pairing with either one giving way if Flamini is fit. The other problem will be the left side if Clichy doesn't recover. Unless we play Traore whoever else plays in his place will leave the side unbalanced. It's gonna be a tough game but Villa don't score an awful lot at home and shorn of some key players we may struggle to find the net ourselves.
Amos.
haha! Nice to see you have no confidence in your own team! We're gunna get your manager sacked like we did with Jose and Potato Head!
leelindsay
hatespur, Ridgewell is an agent. He's working to bring Blues down. He also hates them.
leelindsay
It's a double test for us: how do we digest defeat, and how good is our strength in depth? I think if we lose it will be because of the absence of Hleb, Fabregas, Clichy. I'm confident that this team can bounce back.
afri-gooner
G4L, i just wanted to come on here and say thanks for the comment you left on vital pompey in support of 'arry - cheers mate... i have alot of time for arsenal anyway, but have even more after that.
pompeyrug
who will play left back if clichy remain unfit? ....The game looks more like a draw, am surprised soccernet and skysports predicted Arsenal win. I hope they are right
49ers
Going to be tough game today against a Villa side what is on a good run at the moment.
will it ever happen
I think The Arsenal we'll win this game but just barely. 1-0 for me a goal from a corner a penalty. fingers crossed for this one. as Newcastle we should deal with them no problem after all our kids took care of them easily in the cup.
Youngest in Charge
The flammmmmmster
themadafrican
Massive win for us i was so impressed with Villa i reckon they will have an outside chance of top four if they play like that every week. i went to this game last season and the gap between the two teams was huge but this season Villa have gotten much better (not saying we havent improved btw )
ExRox
That's the most difficult of the season so far, much tougher than 'pool and united. Villa are a good side and barring major injuries are capable of CL qualification.
bseymour
good game villa.. but we got the 3 points we need... villa will pick up 3 points against other teams but we need 3 points against strong teams like them.. well played all.. diarra was impressive in 1st half, very sloppy in the 2nd, eboue n sagna were massive, flamster as usual, adebayor good with goal, quite careless with some passes, rosicky should hv scored, gallas n toure solid
McGooner
McGooner, I honestly thought Sagna had his poorest game by far today, Young never let him settle and he became very rattled and indecisive as the game went on. However he was awesome going forward in the first half.
bseymour
insert 'defensive' between 'poorest' and 'game'^^^^^^^^
bseymour
 

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