Arsenal take on Aston Villa from the Premier League this afternoon as William Hill release the latest odds and new free bets offer as the firm reports Christian Benteke is attracting plenty of support from punters.
It could spell bad news for Arsene Wenger and his side, will look to put a frustrating summer, transfer wise, behind them when they begin the new campaign at home to Paul Lamebert’s Aston Villa.
The Gunners have so far failed to add any major signings to their squad after being foiled in bids for Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and more recently Luiz Guastavo.
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Added to that, fringe players Andrey Arshavin, Gervinho, Andre Santos, Denilson and Marouane Chamakh have all left the club with free signing Yaya Sanogo from St. Etienne the only addition so far although with two weeks left in the window there is still time to bolster the ranks.
Despite that there are still reasons to be positive for Arsenal fans especially with Oliver Giroud looking sharp in pre-season. The Frenchman has scored 8 goals in pre-season and alongside Theo Walcott, fit to play despite suffering a knee injury on International duty, has looked eager to impress.
Arsenal have some defensive injuries ahead of the clash with Villa with Wenger able to call on just four fit defenders following the injury to Bacary Sagna. The right back was injured during the international between France and Belgium midweek and joins Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal on the sidelines.
The absence of Vermaelen means that German International Per Mertesacker takes the captain’s armband.
Midfielders Santi Cazorla is a doubt, with Arsene Wenger set to make a late decision on the players’ fitness after returning from international duty with Spain from a gruelling trip to Ecuador.
The former Villareal man could figure however following the injury to Mikel Arteta, who will miss the opening 6 weeks due to a thigh injury,
Aaron Ramsey is fit to play despite pulling out of the Welsh squad that played Ireland midweek while Jack Wilshere returned from England International duty fit and ready for action.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert meanwhile will be hoping his young side have learned from the experiences of last season. The Villains toyed with relegation for much of the campaign before a strong finish, aided by the form of Christian Benteke, saw them survive.
Lambert has been active in the transfer window, bringing in Jores Okore, Aleksandar Tonev, Antonio Luna, Nicklas Helenius and Leandro Bacuna very early in the summer to bolster the depth of his squad.
Okore should shore up the defence while Tonev could be a surprise player to watch with the winger comfortable with both feet and backing a lethal shot.
Helenius will ease the pressure of last season’s top scorer Benteke while Luna will provide cover at left back.
Lambert will be without midfielder Yacouba Sylla for the trip to Arsenal with a twisted ankle a calf strain looks set to keep versatile midfielder Chris Herd out.
This one kicks off at Saturday 15:00 GMT.