It’s time to stand up and be counted. The next three league matches will shape our season. Away to Aston Villa, Everton and Liverpool. Liverpool sit a point above us having played two extra games. They don’t play again until next weekend. Bolton are five points below us, having played two games more. They also don’t play till the weekend. Our injury problems will hopefully have alleviated a tad with the weeks rest after the PSV game. We have to win.
Fixture History – Wenger Years
Until Wenger’s second double winning season we hadn’t actually won a game at Villa Park. Since then it’s been a half decent hunting ground. Overall we’ve won three, drawn four and lost two. At home it’s a completely different story, apart from this season and Wenger’s first full season in charge we’ve beaten them every time. Overall in the Premiership it’s eleven wins, six draws and two losses.
In their last seventeen games in all competitions, Villa have won two, drawn five and lost ten. At home this season they’ve won six, drawn four and lost three. They’ve only scored fifteen goals in those thirteen games but have conversely only conceded eleven, the fourth best record in the Premiership.
The weeks rest will hopefully allow Tomas Rosicky, Justin Hoyte, Phillipe Senderos and Mathieu Flamini to recover from their various niggles. No doubt we’ll pick up a couple of new ones in training but we can always hope.
Thierry Henry is out for a the season after picking up a couple of new knocks against PSV.
Kolo Toure faces his last game suspended. Adebayor and Eboue miss this and the Everton game. Gael Clichy picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Blackburn in the FA Cup so I think he misses this game.
Van Persie still out for four to eight weeks with his broken metatarsal.
They have Mark Delaney and Chris Sutton injured for this game. Martin Laursen was substituted with a hamstring problem in their last game but the severity of that injury isn’t yet known. Juan Pablo Angel hasn’t been in their matchday squads for a few weeks. Not sure what’s going on there.
You’d expect Wenger to go full strength for this. Except for the suspended players obviously. I don’t know who Wenger thinks will be better suited to deal with Carew’s aerial threat out of the two Swiss boys, that’s Wengers call. He might play Gallas at left back and start both of them. Although if Willy is still refusing to play at full back then Traore will probably get a start. It’ll be Beast and Aliadiere upfront, unless Wenger plans to try Walcott there again.