Arsenal vs Aston Villa: View From The Opponents

Arsenal will start their 2013-14 league campaign at home to Aston Villa
on Friday. Both teams endured indifferent campaigns last season, the only
difference being that Arsenal’s scramble was at the top and Villa’s at the

Ahead of the game tomorrow, I caught up with Stuart Young of
for a small chat. While Stuart felt there would be no relegation battle this
time around, he still thinks it is going to be a tough season for Aston Villa.
And for the second week running, Jack Wilshire is the one Arsenal player our
opponents would like to be part of their team. 

1. Alan
Smith has predicted another season of struggle for Aston Villa. What’s your
take on the season ahead?

First of all – Alan Smith is a Villa
fan but I have never heard someone talk more negatively towards the club than

As for my take on the season – It won’t be easy. We know that but I don’t
expect another relegation scrap. Villa are going through a transitional period
that will take time to rebuild and I believe Paul Lambert is building the right
way, buying young and hungry players who want to prove themselves at the very
top. I’m expecting a mid-table finish around 11-12th.

2. Lambert
had a tough season last time around. What is the opinion among Villa fans on

The vast majority are right behind
him. He has had to clear up the mess (and still is) left by Martin O’Neill,
Gerrard Houllier and Alex McLeish who had all brought in older players on
stupid wages like a five year 60k a week deal for a 34 year old Shay Given! I
don’t think any of us expected the relegation scrap but we played some really
good stuff in the back end of the season so we can see what he is trying to
achieve. In a recent fans forum he admitted to making mistakes and that he has
learned from them – What more can you want from a manager who is going to be
honest and up front?

3. Are you
happy with Villa’s summer? Any new signings to look out for on Saturday?

Yeah we have been OK – Still not
convinced by the defense but time will soon tell. I am also expecting big
things from both Jores Okore and Aleksandar Tonev this season while the jury is
still out on a few others. 

4. Benteke
was under the spotlight early in the summer. Were you surprised, first by his
transfer request and then a complete U-turn in signing a new contract?

I was surprised by the transfer
request but I wasn’t surprised by the U-turn. Villa fans are well aware of
Benteke’s agent and sadly he could end up ruining the player’s career unless he
stands up for himself. I felt Aston Villa handled the whole ordeal perfect.
They stated from the off that he has an asking price of £35million and unless
that is met he wont be going anywhere. I never expected Spurs to stump up that
cash and I wasn’t wrong. Most would expect him to leave next season if he has
another like last but I just hope he makes the choice for himself as a player
and not for his agent and his pockets.

5. Do you
agree that Benteke is still Villa’s trump card?

No I don’t. Gabriel Agbonlahor and
Andi Weimann have really improved as players in the last 12 months and they got
overlooked because of Benteke. Against teams like Stoke last season we saw 2-3
defenders marking Benteke which I think is a mistake because Agbonlahor’s pace
and Weimann’s determination shouldn’t be underestimated. Both have the ability
to find the net.

6. Any
weakness you think Arsenal could exploit?

Was there to see last season, wasn’t
it? The back four isn’t great. We are hoping the signing of Okore and Luna will
make things more solid but I am unsure as of yet.

7. Your
take on Arsenal.

Arsenal fans have been crying out in
my opinion for some money to be spent for years on some real solid established
players. I don’t think you have ever really replaced David Seaman in goal, just
like I don’t think you have replaced the likes of Adams, Viera or Henry. I
really like Walcott though and he finally seems to be maturing.

8. Arsenal
and especially Wenger have been under tremendous media scrutiny for a few years
now. You think it is justified?

Yes I do because I believe Arsenal
shouldn’t be happy to accept top 4 and fighting it out with Spurs. Top 4
shouldn’t even be in your mind – it should be the title. I accept you can’t win
every season but you need to be challenging and I can’t remember the last time
you did. Arsene has probably done a great job at the club but sometimes you
have to question weather its time for a new approach.

9.  One Arsenal player you would absolutely
want in your team.

A fit Jack Wilshire – has the ability
to destroy anyone in the world on his day in my opinion. He has had a lot of
issues over the past few years – I just hope they don’t come back to hurt him
as a player.

10. Where
do you think Aston Villa and Arsenal will finish come end of season?

Arsenal will take 4th again while
Villa will take 11-12th.

11. Predictions for the game?

Both teams to score as I believe both are weak
at the back but can score goals. Sadly I am going to go for a 2-1 to you guys.

Thanks for reading  

Vivek Arulnathan

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