Once again, the red side of North London would be hoping this is their season. They have been forced to endure a frustrating 8 years campaign- that has seen them trophyless- despite having full hopes by the start of those excruciating seasons.
Last season, they had to fight tooth and nail to scrap fourth-spot on the league table, as their North London rivals had plans of their own too.
This time, it promises to be a different affair. Changes from the managerial positions and top-class signings by other competitors of the prestigious top four spot haven’t gone unnoticed. Unfortunately, neither of that effect is taking place at Arsenal.
It’s obvious the manager hasn’t learnt his lessons from last season, because surprisingly, he has failed to strengthen the side. Although, a much better second-half season performance by Arsenal saw them not only gifted a top-four finish, but also a good league run, and that incredible victory at the Allianz Arena that apparently spurred their season.
Still, the Gunners faithful and even the players want more than that. A trophy was the primary target of the club by the end of last season for the new campaign, and even the club chief executive boasted about the possible arrival of new faces to join the squad. But now, it’s unlikely. And aforementioned earlier, one can observe the massive changes by the teams that want the league triumph.
With all that aside, a win against the Lions at the Emirates come Saturday is highly achievable. Arsenal would be coming into this one as clear favourites, not just because of the home advantage (which sometimes plays no role), but with the superior quality when you collate both squads.
Aston Villa on the other hand, would be coming into this game as the underdogs, but clearly shouldn’t be written off. Manager Paul Lambert’s firmness in young-breeds at the club has yielded positives, in the form of Chris Benteke.
And after signing a new contract, the striker looks set to racking up his goal tally this season- a possible scourge for the Arsenal’s defence on Saturday.
Lukas Podolski and Per mertesacker should be welcomed back to the side, with both playing a teensy part for their country during the week. Theo Walcoot and Santi Cazorla are highly doubts after both picked up injuries after playing an enormous percentage for their respective countries during the midweek.
Captain Vermaelen is out of the game, with Koscielny set to replace him. Bacary Sagna is also expected to miss the game, but welsh man Aaron Ramsey is fully fit after playing no part in the international friendlies.
TRIO Chris Benteke, Andreas Weimann and new signing Aleskhandar Tonev are all expected to start at the Emirates.
Chris Herd and Charles Nzogbia are nursing various degrees of injuries, so are expected not to take part in the predictably sunny weather on Saturday.
Arsenal are undefeated in 27 of their 29 matches against Aston Villa.
Arsenal have scored 2 goals in at least 3 fixtures against Aston Villa at the Emirates.
Arsenal have won 8 of their last 10 matches in the Premier League.
DID YOU KNOW?
That Arsenal have made only one signing this summer, and is set to miss this game with an injury? Frustrating eh?
Both sides boasting of qualities in the squad could augur an end to end stuff affair- though with Arsenal possessing more quality, I expect the home team to come out victorious.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa
Written by Femi Hilekaan
Follow Femi on Twitter @femi4arsenal
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