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Arsenal are not the only Champions League regular to fall on the Villa sword of late. Chelsea and Liverpool have taken sucker punches to the chops in recent seasons. You'd have to think that is largely down to the type of personnel the Midlands side have in their ranks. Gabriel Agbonlahor, Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann are all good players on the counter attack and I can think of more than a couple successful Villa counters on us over the years. So with that in mind, we are going to have to be good whenever we lose the ball. The likes of Coquelin and Ramsey who I both expect to start will have to be switched on, especially the latter who does like a stroll towards the opposition penalty area. I mean who can blame him, it's not as if he hasn't had plenty of success doing so

I cannot count the amount of times I've heard people posit that injuries are no excuse for poor results. If that was the case I'd like to hear a good reason as to why yesterday's top teams who decided to rotate their squads all suffered with defeat in their own stadiums. Two of the very richest teams in the country who have 2/3 top players per position losing should provide sufficient evidence that not having a consistent team can effect results. So on that very subject, today will more than likely provide a chance to rotate some fringe players like Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil into the first team. As we are not in the league cup anymore we need to give them chances when we can. All unfunny jokes aside, today is an opportunity to give certain players a deserved rest as well as giving returning players a chance to get some much needed sharpness under their belts

Enough about them anyway, what about the Arsenal? The squad is pretty much as it was. We need someone to replace Mathieu Debuchy who 'injured himself' in our last match or so they say. His replacement will probably depend on how we want to approach the game. I know Arsène is a sucker for going toe to toe with the big boys and that has been our undoing in recent years but I think it may well be different this time. But I wouldn't listen to me too much, I tend to get all over excited just before a big game. But I'll try to explain, I think we are a team who build confidence based on our performances rather than our results. We could win 5 games in a row, the way we beat Crystal Palace at the start of the season but I'm not sure it

It is a little bit catch 22 when it comes to players returning after a long time out. They need to play games to get back to their best levels but when they start their come backs they are not at the level we require as Theo showed against Hull City in the cup last week. While Theo and Alexis give you two great attacking threats, it is hard not to look at the other side of the coin and wonder if the erratic side of their games will cause the rest of our game a few issues. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the most part has been very good for us this season. He has dipped in a few fixtures and his aim will definitely be consistency. With Alexis on the other side he gives the side extra balance with his ability to drift inside and help control the game,

The FA Cup is back again and it will be great to inject some good feeling back into the atmosphere following the Southampton defeat. The mood is such that you'd think we had won once in six games, in reality the loss to Southampton was our first defeat in six games. Scoring 14 goals conceding 8 during that time period. But a cup clash with last seasons cup final opponents can hopefully bring back some positive memories. Looking back at that team that lifted the cup, it's amazing how different it is to the team we see today. 7 of the 11 players in that team will not be in the squad this afternoon, it is also possible that at least two of the remaining four players will be rested due to a rather hectic Christmas schedule on a rather small number of players

Alexis is likely to play as centre forward and it makes sense that Oxlade-Chamberlain starts on the right. Arsène could move Cazorla to the left of attack and that would be a familiar position to the Spaniard and would also aid us when it comes to wrestling some more control on the game. Tomas Rosicky could then replace Cazorla in the middle of the pitch. Trouble with that is you would be moving arguably our best player in recent weeks from a position where he has played his best football for some years. Even though the left of attack isn't ideal, I'd rather leave Cazorla where he is and start Rosicky on the left which should cause less disruption to the rest of the team

Anfield stirs up plenty of memories, both recent and past. In fact it is rare to find one of these fixtures that was devoid of incident. The obvious, if not the most enjoyable place to start is what happened last season and I need not go into detail about what took place that day. I would say though that like most of our big defeats I didn't think we were any worse on paper, perhaps that is a touch of the red specs syndrome, although I stand by that. I still believe that the issue was how we

  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more