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Arsenal vs. Aston Villa

Ashburton Grove



Arsenal v. Villa

After a handful of lackluster Boxing Day matches, Arsenal and Aston Villa have been left with the responsibility of bringing excitement to the holiday fixture schedule. With Chelsea dropping points once again, there is even more incentive for both teams.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene is certainly not taking Villa lightly.

"For me December has been a U-turn for us in the League," he said. "We beat Stoke, Liverpool, Hull and drew at Burnley so we made some ground up on other teams who dropped points".

"Of course now we want to finish the month well to completely reverse the position. At the end of November nobody gave us a chance. Over the Christmas period we can show in a concrete way that we have the potential to win the title.

"And considering we are in a great position, this is as big a game [as Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea] because it is a very big opportunity for us."

Arsenal Team News:

Officially Cesc Fabregas is rated as 50/50, but I'm sure he'll play. Maybe more hopeful than sure. This is too big of a game to barely miss out. We're only seven points behind Chelsea with two games in hand.

Besides Cesc, only Armand Traore is back. He will slot in for Silvestre. Rosicky will be back soon, while Bendtner is 2-3 weeks away. Clichy, Gibbs, Djourou, and van Persie are all still out.

Predicted Starting XI: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Traore, Song, Denilson, Fabregas, Diaby, Nasri, Arshavin

Player to watch: Everyone

I'm going to take the easy way out here, but I honestly can't single out one individual player that needs to play exceptionally well. Everyone needs to play their best.

Aston Villa Team News:

Villa's good run of form lately is partly down to a kind injury record for Martin O'Neill. Bouma and Davies are out, while Heskey is a slight doubt. Other than that, MON has a full crop of players to pick from.

Possible Starting XI: Friedel, L Young, Cuellar, Dunne, Warnock, A Young, Petrov, Milner, Downing, Heskey, Agbonlahor.

Player to watch: James Milner

A move into the centre of the midfield this season has seen Milner blossom. Villa supporters are full of praise for the former Leeds man. Denilson and Song will have their hands full.

Ref Watch:

Phil Dowd will be the head official for tomorrow's match.

Match Prediction:

It's hard to give a prediction if you don't know if your inspirational young captain will be playing. But as I said earlier, I think he will play, so I'll go with that. It's going to be an epic tie, but Villa are due a defeat. 3-1 to the Arsenal. It'll be close, but Arsenal will get a third, insurance goal late on.

Next Fixtures:

30/12 (Wed) - Portsmouth (a) - Premier League

3/1 (Sun) - West Ham (a) - FA Cup

6/1 (Wed) - Bolton (h) - Premier League

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The Journalist

Writer: Brice Coffer Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday December 26 2009

Time: 6:48PM

Your Comments

I like your Confidence and i like it even more that once again Villa are underdogs. We beat you last season away 2-0, you have a heavy list of injuries. Villa could well win this and we have such a point to prove this season, Also don't expect that 4.4.2 line up. I wouldn't be suprised if Villa went 4,5,1 with Ashley and Downing on the Wings with Reo Coker playing as a defensive Midfielder instead of Heskey being on the pitch. I'm predicting 2-2.
Villa 4 Ever
I don't think I was overly confident in my prediction.
LOL, We have only conceded 14 all season and you think that you will get 3 in one game???? That's COCKY not overly confident.
We've scored more goals than anyone else in the league, and we average over 3 goals per game at home. So I'd say perhaps you are too cocksure in your predictions.
Missing Cesc and van Persie, our two best players, would make this a great opportunity for Villa to beat us, especially with their confidence after beating Chelsea, Man U and Liverpool. Without Cesc and van Persie, it's evenly matched and we're going to have to give a top-quality performance.
You should rephrase that sentence to read " We were averaging over 3 goals per game at home until Van Persie twisted his ankle" ;-D
I'm not an Arsenal supporter but Villa fans need to be careful not to be too over confident as Spurs were prior to their game at the Emirates
I am a Villa fan and I'm not over confident. I do think we can beat you but I don't expect us to by any means. I would be more than happy with a draw but am optimistic of better. I think it could be a thrilling game and as your preview suggests it is up to our two great clubs to bring some excitement into the Boxing Day fixtures after today's boring results. I think we are the only top flight club still yet to lose at The Emirates. This could of course end tomorrow..... Or we could continue our impressive run at your place. Either way I can't wait until kick off. 4-4 would be fun but I can't see it really so I'm gonna go for a cheeky 0-1 to Villa.
Adam Deuce
Not a big deal if Cesc doesnt play Diaby,Deni and Song did a great job Vs Hull.
I don't think anyone can be surprised with any outcome the game gives us tomorrow. This has to be one of the most unpredictable matches I can remember.
villa have never lost at the emirates, it will change tomorrow
1-2 villa. arsenal having taken the lead very late in the first half. although i would absolutely take a point because i am very confident about the liverpool game on tuesday. no injuries please boyos! should be a treat.
Arsenal 3-0 AVilla with fabregas, Arse 2-1 villa w/o fabregas
its a huge credit to MON as he has brought aston villa to a stage where it's soo difficult to predict tonite's its up to wenger to show that he is the PROF n get the players ready to make a statement of intent today.. beat villa and we will be potentially within 1 point of chelsea.. villa are a good side and i wish them well for the rest of the season.. but today is all about Arsenal and i reckon we'll come out on top
All credit to MoN for Villa's current stature as the most serious contender for a CL spot amongst the top half clubs in England. I too hope Fabregas plays in the game because he can make such a vital impact in a tight game such as this. One defense splitting pass could be all Arsenal need. If we take the lead and force Villa to come at us, I think we could win 2-0. If Villa get the first goal and then just throw bodies behind the ball and wait for opportunities on the counter they could steal the game away from us. Good game ahead.
Villa will look to hit us on the counter, and they have been defensively solid this season. I can see Arsenal scoring 2 goals, but not 3. It depends whether our defence can keep out Gabby (who's a big match player and will look to score again) & Co. A close 2-1 win for Arsenal.
Goran Pandev is a free agent plz wenger
Hard to tell. Our entire defence (especially Almunia), Den and Song will have to stay focused 100% for the entire 90 mins and injury time. If we do that, I think we have a chance - by that I mean a draw or hopefully a win. Fasten your seatbelt guys!
Cesc only on the bench! Would it be totally, outrageously demanding if I wished for Diaby to have his 3rd great game in a row?
Diaby is playing great so far, just need Arshavin and Eduardo to wake up and get in the game a bit more.
Argh can't stand the commentary i'm getting on Setanta. Saying all the things we don't want to hear.
we need to win this game. we need to keep the pressure on man u and chelsea
Diaby playing good in an early kickoff? Never though I'd see the day. He is at the helm of everything good about our attack so far.
Fantastic free kick from Cesc, he's been watching Denilson (",)
I'm a straigt man in love with a 22-year Spanish guy. He is just freakishly good.
Quite clearly when Cesc saw Den's strike against Hull, he thought 'I can do that too!' :D That's a truly brilliant free kick!!
Friedel should have seen it coming through - Cesc did give him a warning with the first attempt that went over. ;)
It's just incredible the way all our players suddenly seemed to truely believe that we were the better side as soon as Cesc came on. He just allows everyone to play another couple of gears above their usuall performance. That's why he's captain. He doesn't need to shout like Roy Keane to get his point across.
Cesc, Diaby and Song look very good together in this game.
The boy's a freakshow. Just too good.
It helps that he scores two goals in 20 minutes too
bowiecokemirror, yeah I've been really pleased that Diaby hasn't been intimidated by the idea of playing around the likes of Fabregas, Nasri and Arshavin and has allowed himself freedom since Den's come off whilst still getting back to help at the back. He seems to value himself more than he used to.
and now off injured- come on for 20, win the game, go off again. Well, Villa is our toughest oppo over Xmas, it was worth the risk as long as it didn't turn a short term injury into a long one
hope csck's hamstring wasent acting up again he was feeling it straight after that second goal................
Diaby has arrived!!!! Finally
What a plan by Wenger,bring on Fab let him win the game then take him off wrap him in cotton wool :p
like i said last week... when Diaby is on form, he's so damn good, if we can get some consistency from him... look out
You have to love our captain, if anyone ever doubts his committment to us needs to see his expression when he scores! Diabbbbyyyyyyyy the boy is on fire!
Oh and another 3 goals at home
The way Diaby has picked up loose balls and ran powerfully does remind me of Viera more than a little (",)
Really proud of the boys today. Fingers crossed for Cesc.
And I was disapointed that Diaby wasn't sold over the summer. Man do I feel foolish now. And if he can prove me wrong so spectacularly, so can Theo (glad to see him keep his head for the 2nd goal by the way), the other player I had serious doubts about. Abou's improvement has really got me feeling positive.
Oh hello Villain444 - make that 17 conceded all season ! 3 it is ! Your side was put firmly in it's place today. Heskey, Young, Milner and co really had no idea today. What did we have something like 75% possession today?
My predicted 3-0 win, with fabregas....Why does everyone think villa has suddenly become barcelona overnight
So Villan 444, you said Brice was been Cocky .... I say he was being over generous to Villa ;) In seriousness that was a massive message to the rest of the league. If you would have offered me a 3-0 but at the cost of a Cesc injury I'd have bitten your hand off. We needed to beat Villa today, and now we have a game against Portsmouth, that with no disrespect, if we cant win without Cesc we wont be winning the league anyway, and then an FA Cup game that he wouldn't have played anyway. The injury didn't look too bad so I think he'll be ok!! Get in there!
I was incredibly nervous about this game, I can't believe the boys did it, and so brilliantly! WE HAVE CESC FABREGAS! WE HAVE CESC FABREGAS! And Diaby, what a goal, what a performance. Even Almunia made a brilliant save, denying Villa a well-earned goal. Just worried about Cesc's injury.
And where's that cocky Villain444 shooting his mouth off???
49ers we were very negative going into games vs Bolton until a couple of seasons ago. We didn't think they were Barcelona. Some teams are just hard to beat - Villa being one of them. This result was a reflection on our quality, not Villa's.
"Why does everyone think villa has suddenly become barcelona overnight" - LOL, 49ers! It's not that they're Barca, it's that our players often leave us worried that they can't handle tough, committed sides like Villa who have great pace and strength. And they did beat us at the Grove last year, and they're 4th in the league. They have also have a far better keeper than we do.
Villa do overestimate the quality of their individual players though - and it was that man-for-man technical superiority which made the difference today with both sides equally determined. Players like Milner, Agbonlahor and Young only work in the context of their own team, so credit to MON for enabling them to play so well usually, but all the Villa fans saying that they'd stroll into our Arsenal team will surely have to think twice now.
You're spot on Rocky, we needed that win. The possibility of Cesc getting another knock was a risk we had to take. Considering the way Diaby is playing though, I think a midfield of him, Song, and Denilson will be too much for Portsmouth anyways.
By the way, does anyone know when Song ships off to the ACN?
So true AR -- they're good players but the way Villa fans talk about them you'd think they were world player of the year contenders. I'd take only two players from their team, Young & Friedel.
quality chaps, no argument with that, you shaded 1st half and dominated 2nd. Good luck the rest of the season, don't think anyone else will get 3 by us this season so just got to stand back and applaud that (sadly!)
the fear
gk, the tournament starts Jan 10 and the national team can call them up as early as a week (I think) before the tournament starts.
To be perfectly honest I'd expected a much tighter game today and it was so in the first half. Yes a lot of credit to Cesc, no doubt about it. But just his presence on the pitch drew so many defenders to him and created space for others. The chances came flooding in for AA and Eduardo and they even combined better between themselves with Cesc on the pitch, so amazing!
Lou, it really was amazing to watch how our players' entire attitude and performance changed the moment he came on.
"We have only conceded 14 all season and you think that you will get 3 in one game????" - Classic. Surely Villain444 should just quit the internet out of shame!
It's a great time for Abou to start coming into form. If Denilson, who didn't have a great time today, can adequately adjust his game to fill Song's void, we can definately continue to dominate the midfield with our trio.
As a spurs fan it's difficult for me to say this but you were absolute quality today, the trick to playing Villa is to get the first goal and once that happened there was only gonna be one result. I must say I'm quite happy with this result as you'd have finnished well above us anyway and Villa, the way they finish off seasons, are there for the taking if we get lucky with injuries. And a special mention to 49ers... any feelings on Wednesdays lotto numbers?
Villa played like pretenders today they will have to show more belief if they are to become a top 4 side, will be interesting to see how they react against Liverpool. When was the last time we out powered a team in midfield? Song and Diaby were fantastic today along with the back 4 they laid the foundations for Cesc to come on for 20 minutes and win the game, brilliant.
Credit to the whole team who played well...even Almunia was more than decent between the posts...let's continue this form at fratton park...
49ers bulls eye
Command performance from the Arsenal today. When we play as well as we did in the second half, we do look to have the makings of a title winning side. Roll on to portsmouth away. Bring them on!
Abou Diaby ...... yet another subject that prove I know absolutely **** all about football. lol. He's going to be playing a lot in the coming weeks, let's hope he keeps it up. If he can find his form from pre-Dan Smith, he'll do frigging well.
Ah bugger!! Outclassed gents. Go make the title interesting!
Phartman87, that was very gracious of you. Much appreciated.
FABREGAAAAAASSSS! Brilliant goals!
Diaby..... Nice one!
Walcott had decent touches and a superb assist. He has appealed to me more as an impact player...
Fabregas for EPL Player of Year
fabregas for EPL champions captain
Gooner SA
Fabregas for Prime Minister
Captain fantastic ,ales the difference again... seeing the replays of his celebration for the first goal especially, I get the feeling that yet again he's saying "You shouldn't doubt I'm here for a good while" It stuck in my mind because I have friends who are negative about his staying and I sometimes think that we'll end up thinking him away - if that's possible!
That was perfect, couldn't have asked for more than that. Was at the game and it was an amazing feeling. Big up to the Villa fans that are coming on here and being gracious in defeat. PS - I know it's all about Cesc (baby), but Vermaelen was awesome today.
Great call, 49ers. I said a silent Amen, when I read your prediction. Amazing what the team's victory does for one's spirits; I am "floating" today. On Song departing for the ACN, I read that the Cameroonian coach has allowed him to report after the WHU game; quite unlike the coach of the Ivory coast who has insisted on having his players in camp on the 28th of December, in line with the rules. The FIFA rules allow clubsides to hold their players for no later than 14 days to the start of the tournament and the ACN starts on the 10th of January, 2010. Let the lads just get 3 points at Fratton park and it will have been a 'December to remember'.
What a Super Sub Preformance from Cesc! Well Done to Diaby, he played Brilliant, I'm so glad he got a goal! Come on Arsenal!!!

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