Arsenal v Aston Villa Sat 15:00
At the start of February, it would have been difficult to believe that Arsenal would be the highest placed London side in the Premier league come season’s end but Arsene Wenger’s side currently sit in third position nonetheless, and come into the game as short odds with Bet365, as Alex McLeish’s side are not expected to offer much resistance at the Emirates.
The Gunners have taken advantage in the drop of form by Tottenham and Chelsea and will go into this weekend’s fixture against Aston Villa hoping to make their chances of European qualification all the more assured.
Chelsea will play hosts to Tottenham on Saturday, leaving the door open for Arsenal to take further advantage of any result that might go in their favour at Stamford Bridge.
Villa were set to play Bolton this week but the tragi events surrounding Trotters midfielder Fabrice Muamba meant that the game was called off.
As a result, Villa have had two weeks off since their last match and while Arsenal may be tired from Wednesday’s win over Everton, the Villans could be over-rested after such a long period away from competition.
Alex McCleish’s side are unbeaten in their last three fixtures but are still performing below their usual standards, currently sitting in 15th place.
Arsene Wenger may be able to welcome Abou Diaby back into the line-up after the Frenchman has had a torrid year with injuries, while the Frenchman can once again name his starting back four of Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs, who have provided the Gunners with a solid foundation at the back in recent weeks.
Villa will bring back just one face at the most too with Ciaran Clark in contention to make his comeback from injury, although it may be to soon for Charles N’Zogbia to return to the sign after overcoming a knee complaint.
McCleish could be tempted to bring in striker Andreas Weimann, who scored against Fulham a fortnight ago, and he could partner Gabriel Agbonlahor up front. Darren Bent and Richard Dunne are still missing with long term injuries.