2 - 1
Feb 23, 201310:00 Live
*Time shown in your time zone
Stadium: Emirates Stadium (London)
This match has ended. Upcoming related matches:
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Getting eliminated by Blackburn a week ago at the Emirates was already bad enough for Arsene Wenger, but a defeat against Bayern Munich on Tuesday just made matters worst. Arsenal fans are looking for answers from the board, while Le Prof made it clear that he is not going anywhere.
"Never, not one second," was Wenger's response when he was asked if he had considered his position at the club after Tuesday's defeat.
So while Wenger confirmed that he has no intentions of quitting Arsenal, the Gunners manager now has to help his squad regain their confidence for their match against Aston Villa.
Paul Lambert's side has not been all that impressive in the current campaign and his position at the club has been questioned a few times already in his short time at Villa Park. With just one point seperating them from the relegation zone, Lambert will need a strong finish to avoid playing Championship Football next season.
Adding to his concerns for Saturday are the absences of Richard Dunne and Chris Herd. Dunne had been expected to join the team soon, but a setback in his recovery has altered the plans.
Mark Albrighton and Gary Gardner will also be missing in action due to long term injuries.
Arsene Wenger's side may not have as many injuries, but from a psychological stand point, the Gunners are badly wounded. Bouncing back with a convincing performance is a must, especially after a number of players came out in Wenger's defense after the defeat against Munich.
Bacary Sagna's injury picked up on Tuesday will see him miss the match, allowing Carl Jenkinson to make his way back into the squad, after serving a suspension for the red card he picked up against Sunderland. Kieran Gibbs is still out with a thigh injury, so Nacho Monreal will start after he had to watch from the crowd, having been cup tied in the Champions League.
11-24-12 Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal
03-24-12 Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa
01-29-12 Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa (FA Cup)
12-21-11 Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal
05-15-11 Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa
11-27-10 Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal
Looking at an eighth successive year without any silverware, Arsenal fans are forced to re-live the glory days of Arsene Wenger's first eight years at the club. Beautiful football, outstanding defending and titles were on the menu at the time, but since then, all of that has slowly fallen apart.
From a suspect back-line to a team that has lost its identity and belief, things are much different from the days of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and so on. Bringing those great days back to a stadium that has yet to see a trophy will not be easy, but Arsene Wenger seems confident that it can happen.
His side will need to take one step closer to bringing back the happy days against Villa, if they want to have any chance of finishing in the top four, securing them a Champions League spot.
Their first meeting this season ended in a scoreless draw, but the Gunners did not look all that convincing in that match. The usual lack of urgency affected Wenger's side and Paul Lambert's men were pleased with their outing.
With players like Jack Wilshere and Thomas Vermaelen coming out to defend Arsene Wenger after their latest defeat stating that it is not the manager's fault, these same players will need to back up their statements on Saturday.
Wilshere has certainly done his part since returning from injury, at times looking like the only player with heart in the Arsenal side, but Vermaelen will really need to make an impact as his performances have not been all that great this season.
If Arsenal comes out flat in the first half as they have done for most of the season, the fans will immediately show their frustrations. Step one to turning things around is getting the crowd behind you, so the hosts will need to make sure they play with urgency and get a few shots on goal early on.
The way Villa has performed this season should allow Arsenal to grab the full three points, but this Arsenal side is very difficult to predict, so anything is possible.
May we also not forget that Gabriel Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke will be out to further sink the Arsenal ship on Saturday. They will have watched plenty of film on Wenger's unpredictable defense and their inconsistent goalkeeper.
Taking a lead into half time is vital for Arsenal. If the teams are even at the break, it will take a moment of fortune in the second half for the Gunners to see off the Villans, but Wenger's side has not had much fortune as of late, so leaving this match in limbo for too long could be devastating.
Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa