Arsenal will look to get their season back on track this weekend as they host Aston Villa at the Emirates tomorrow afternoon. It’s fair to say that this week has been a very rough one for the club, having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Blackburn and being left with a mountain to climb in their Champions League tie with Bayern Munich after conceding 3 away goals in a 3-1 defeat on Tuesday.
Bacary Sagna will be out with a knee injury, so Carl Jenkinson is expected to start at right-back. Kieran Gibbs remains out injured, so Nacho Monreal will start at left-back having been cup-tied for the Champions League clash against Bayern.
Villa have been handed a boost as both Gabriel Agbonlahor and Karim El Ahmadi have recovered from an illness that ruled them out of their last match with West Ham. Charles N’Zogbia has recovered from a thigh injury he suffered in that game against West Ham.
Whilst Arsenal haven’t had a brilliant week, Aston Villa have had a tough season. They’re currently one point clear of safety and are in 17th place in the table. A win or a draw would certainly be seen as a bonus for Villa, who need as many as they can to stay up this season. Things have been looking slightly better in recent weeks for them though, having claimed 4 points in their last two games. They couldn’t have caught Arsenal at a better time, but whilst that can be seen as a good thing, it can also be a danger. The fear for Villa will be that Arsenal take all their frustrations of Blackburn and Bayern Munich out on them.
Aston Villa at home isn’t the worst fixture you could think of having if you’ve just lost two important games. Arsenal’s confidence is very low at the moment and Villa will fancy their chances I’m sure.
Arsenal need their fans behind them tomorrow. It’s been a horrible week, but they need the fans more than ever tomorrow. I said a similar thing before Bayern Munich. We just need to focus on the next game and getting the three points. Villa is a must win for Arsenal. If they’re going to qualify for the Champions League next season, we HAVE to beat teams like Villa at home. There are tough games coming up – Tottenham (a), Everton (h), Swansea (a) and even Man Utd (h) in the not too distant future. If Arsenal fail to get three points at home to Aston Villa, it’s difficult seeing them doing so against those sides listed.
I will take a scrappy 1-0 tomorrow. We just need 3 points and something to build on. Sure, winning 5-0 would build up the confidence more and I’d love to see that seeing as I’m going tomorrow, but the three points is the main thing. The game can’t possibly be as boring as the one they played out towards the end of November. That finished 0-0 and was my last game before flying home from Chicago. I wish I hadn’t bothered in honesty.
Things could have been so different this weekend for both Arsenal and Aston Villa. Swansea meet Bradford in the League Cup Final this Sunday. Ideally, Arsenal would be playing at Wembley this weekend instead of this fixture. Villa came even closer than Arsenal did, but one thing both teams have in common is that they were knocked out by League Two Bradford City. Arsenal crashed out on penalties to them in the quarter-finals and Villa lost the semi-final on aggregate. Both Arsenal and Villa are probably thinking they could and perhaps should be there. The two sides would have met each other in the semi-finals had Arsenal beaten Bradford. It wasn’t to be for either side though and come the end of the season IF Arsenal qualify for the Champions League and IF Aston Villa stay up, they might look back on it and say it was for the best.