Preview – Arsenal v Aston Villa

WTTGT Writer: Devon James Andre Halls

A happy 28th of January to all you blog readers out there, or 29th of January if you are reading this tomorrow, which if you are ought to be called today not tomorrow as tomorrow will be the 30th of January. That is moderately confusing admittedly, and if you’re reading this yesterday then it’s even more so.

Moving on to matters of football and I bring both good and bad news, with one in more plentiful supply than the other. With this being an Arsenal blog you may assume that the hordes of Badness News are dragging along the bound and gagged company of Goodness News, but revise this thought as it is in fact to the contrary.

This weekend we turn our attentions to an Aston Villa side that are currently 11th in the table and are undefeated in 5 of its last 6 games, which suggests that they are a good football club and in good form. I assure you that they are not however, as nothing Alex McLeish is involved in is good at anything. They appear to have jumped on the “let’s get an ex premier league player on loan from the MLS” bandwagon, and a certain player from the wrong end of Seven Sisters Road fired them to a win over Wolves last week. I dislike them more and more as I write this, I’m sure you are as you read this.

Apparently Heskey is available for selection, but before you laugh too hard consider this: Heskey and Chamakh have scored the same number of goals this season and Heskey has only appeared in  2 games more! So can we really laugh at Heskey anymore? We appear to have our own resident Heskey, but our Heskey isn’t available for selection this weekend. That is all the bad news I have for you this week (apart from Wilshere suffering a setback in his injury recovery and is probably out for the rest of the season severely hampering our chances of a top 4 finish and a champions league place potentially denying us valuable revenue and making us less appealing to top flight European footballers and potentially condemning us to further mediocrity than we have already been subjected to). So its all good…..

However there is genuine good news this week, as Wenger has stated that some big guns may be primed and ready for firing at our northern cousins this weekend. Sagna, Arteta and Henry will all be facing late fitness tests and could well feature on Sunday, Coquelin is back in the side and Gibbs returns to full training on Monday.

It has been amazing to see how much we have missed Arteta’s composure and experience on the pitch these last few games. We have struggled to control the midfield in recent weeks and his return should see us grab it by the scruff of the neck again. Everyone realises just how much we have missed recognised full backs and although Gibbs will take a while to regain match fitness, Sagna should be ready for Bolton midweek if he doesn’t make the cut for tomorrow.

While Coquelin is another young hopeful, I genuinely feel great promise with this player, and his “utilitiness” and ability to play multiple positions is very handy. I really am a big fan of Coq. Santos is due for a return in March which is only a month away now, which is all really positive. Maybe Wenger was right to not buy any full backs this January as they are all flooding back in February…I don’t think so.   

Based upon what I have heard I would select a team as follows (this is not a prediction):

Szcz, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Coq, Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Henry, The Ox, Van Persie.

I would look to give Sagna a half an hour of football with an eye on Bolton midweek, perhaps bringing on Yennaris who has been superb whenever called upon this season. I think Koscielny deserves a rest as he has been a rock for us all season. I would definitely try to continue Chamberlains momentum as I’m sure he is still buzzing from last week, and I would drop Walcott for Thierry if he is fit.

I leave you with Gary Lineker esq facts: Arsenal currently hold the post war record for most FA Cup games undefeated during 2001-04, and we are the second most successful club in the history of the competition. Now I’m really looking forward to Sunday.

Head back after the game for player reviews. Adieu mon amis. 

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