Two different types of crisis meet at Villa Park in Saturday’s early kick-off and whilst Villa’s is mainly injury-based, Arsenal’s is mainly not being able to defend based, which ironically can be more difficult to repair than most snapped cruciates. The unexpected reunion with Robert Pires is almost interesting, but if we were to talk about every former Arsenal players who makes a pointless cameo against Arsenal, we’d talk about nothing else.
The whippersnappers making up Villa’s midfield have the potential to make it big in the future – but this early Saturday afternoon may be a little early too early. Despite the slump, Arsenal have been creating chances and had it not been for Carlos Vela milking some reasonably forceful contact to the point it looked like a dive, could well have won and avoided the tedious knee-jerk reactions of this week.
At the very least, this one should be an entertaining and free-flowing game. They’re not words generally associated with Gerard Houllier teams, but with a lack of defensive minded options, he hasn’t got much choice. It should also feature goals. Both sides have managed just 4 clean sheets in 14 games this season. Although there’s a sizeable gap in terms of league positions and points, Villa and Arsenal are more evenly matched if you take heed of results at half-time. If games were ended after the first 45 minutes, Villa would be on the cusp of the Champions League places. Obviously the tradition of playing a further 45 minutes renders that stat virtually pointless, but it suggests Villa are no good at holding on to a lead. That makes the Double Result of Aston Villa at Half Time and Arsenal at Full Time @ 22/1 a very interesting proposition. Likewise with home advantage likely to negate any gulf in class, the draw is a good option. It’s unlikely to be a bore draw, so something like the 2-2 stalemate @ 11/1 may not be out of the question.
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