Aston Villa vs Arsenal Preview: Master vs Pupil

Author: @ApnaArsenal

Remi Garde during his playing days at Arsenal

In case it hasn’t been mentioned forty million and one times already, this Sunday – former Arsenal midfielder Remi Garde, recently appointed as Aston Villa’s manager will take on Arsene Wenger – his old gaffer in a classic case of “The Pupil takes on The Master”. And be prepared for many more of those clichés all throughout the game, up until the very final whistle.

Garde revealed details of his close relationship with Wenger in The Birmingham Mail but that said – he would be loathe to take on the Gunners who should be oozing confidence after a majestic 3-0 away win in Greece, which means Arsenal ensure qualification out of the Group Stages of the Champions League for the sixteenth consecutive year. Early season wobbles caused Arsenal to shoot themselves in the foot with frankly unacceptable losses against Dinamo Zagreb & Olympiakos but with their hands on a calculator and off “the handbrake”, the Gunners produced what Wenger described as “the perfect performance” to ensure Le Professeur’s quest for European glory stays alive.

Former Gunner Remi Garde was part of Arsène Wenger's French revolution

Former Gunner Remi Garde was part of Arsène Wenger’s French revolution

After such a high intensity game – against opponents who had not lost once in their past 12 home League games (albeit in the Greek league) – The Gunners take on the Villains who haven’t won a single home game in the Premier League. The League’s bottom placed team is there for obvious reasons – having only taken 2 points out of a possible 18 in their last 6 games.

Tim Sherwood was sacked after a run of 7 consecutive losses, and his replacement Remi stopped that rut with a hard earned 0-0 draw at home against mighty Manchester City. But the Villains haven’t exactly capitalized on that – 2 defeats after that followed by a surprise draw at Southampton away haven’t exactly boosted public sentiment.

Villa have lost stellar  full back Jordan Amavi to a lengthy injury lay off, team captain Micah Richards is in doubt for the Sunday game, while Club captain Gabriel Agbonlahor should make the bench.

Few teams compare to an injury list as extensive as Arsenal – who shall be without many influential players like Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Alexis Sanchez, Mikel Arteta –(takes a deep breath), Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky (feel free to add names of those I’ve forgotten in the comments section).

(Fun fact- it was rumoured Tomas would be allowed to join Aston Villa at the end of last season until Wenger triggered a clause to extend his err… stay at Arsenal by another season).

Tactically – Villa have fielded a 4-3-3 recently while the Gunners are long term fans of the 4-5-1.

Theo Walcott has recently returned from his own long injury lay off and was a surprise starter away in Greece – over Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. While his involvement in that must win game seemed a smart move, Wenger could perhaps rest Theo at Birmingham and hand a start to The Ox – if only to avoid a scenario of having his only two fit forwards on the pitch at the same time & risk potential injuries.

This means Olivier Giroud seems set to lead the line again with Mesut Ozil, Joel Campbell & The Ox behind him being anchored by Aaron Ramsey & Mathieu Flamini.

Petr Cech will be seeking a record equaling 170th clean sheet against The Lions who have been rather tame when it comes to scoring in the league at Villa Park.  He should be playing behind the usual back four of Hector Bellerin, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker & the quietly sublime Nacho Monreal.

Petr Cech will attempt to equal David James' Premier League record of 170 clean sheets

Petr Cech will attempt to equal David James’ Premier League record of 170 clean sheets at Villa Park

Despite all his mid week moaning (or perhaps because of it) Mathieu Debuchy will probably remain on the bench while Kieran Gibbs will have another cameo at left wings to see out the game at the closing stages. Unless Wenger decides to rest either centre back for the festive season – Gabriel too seems set for a spot on the bench.

Without being too disrespectful to the Birmingham based club – predicting an Arsenal win over the team they beat 4-0 in last season’s FA Cup Final seems to be a fairly straight forward conclusion. If Villa do stifle the Gunners’ midfield – Arsenal should manage to score off a set piece or two – something Villa is notoriously poor at defending. Even if the Claret & Blue team do take a lead – they are terrible at holding onto one. And as the North Londoners showed mid week, climbing a mountain from a self-made molehill is something they usually relish nowadays.

Here’s to 3 more points to The Arsenal! ( and more importantly – no more new injuries!)

Come On You Gunners!!



“I’m Sudhir from Mumbai, India.
27 years old, in love with all things related to the Arsenal. Still hoping to become a successful sports writer, and to earn my bread and butter (and jam and cheese) while writing about the beautiful sport – one article at a time…. “

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One Response to “Aston Villa vs Arsenal Preview: Master vs Pupil

  • Thank you for this opportunity!

    here’s to many more collaborations ahead…

    hope we get 3 points & no injuries from the game!

    Come On You Gunners!!! \m/

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