Arsenal will attempt to solidify its hold on third place in the English Premier League when they host Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium on March 24. Arsenal is hoping to finish in the top four to earn a shot at the Champions League next season. They’ve been on an excellent run lately with six wins in a row, including a 1-0 victory in Everton on Wednesday.
Arsenal is in third place in the table at the moment with 55 points from 17 wins, four draws and eight losses. They’re just one ahead of Tottenham. Aston Villa sits in 15th place with seven wins, 12 draws, and nine losses for 33 points. However, their game against Bolton was postponed during the week and they have a game in hand over most teams. They did manage to win their last game though, 1-0 over Fulham two weeks ago.
When these two teams met earlier in the season Arsenal managed to pull out a 2-1 win with a late winner by Yossi Benayoun. They also beat Villa 3-2 in an FA Cup match recently after trailing 2-0 at half time. Villa has managed to win at the emirates before as they took three points there last season and in 2008.
Arsenal has been playing very well recently ever since getting thumped 4-0 by AC Milan in the first leg of their champions League tie in Italy. They have a knack for scoring goals late in the game and Villa will have to make sure they put in a solid effort for the full 90 minutes as anything less than that isn’t good enough. Arsenal has been so good they’ve gained 13 points on Tottenham since February and are now just ahead of them in the table. They still have to play Manchester City and Chelsea though in their last nine games.
Arsenal should have defender Andre Santos back in the line-up, but midfielder Jack Wilshere is still out with an injured ankle and Abou Diaby, Sebastian Squillaci, and Francis Coquelin are all expected to miss the contest. Aston Villa has had trouble scoring goals and things are worse now with Darren Bent injured likely for the rest of the season. Defenders Ciaran Clarke and Richard Dunne will also likely miss the game.
Arsenal has won their last five games while villa has just one win, two losses and two draws. Villa will have to keep their eye on striker Robin Van Persie, who leads the league with 26 goals so far this season. Villa doesn’t have a bad squad, but they just can’t seem to put it together. It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to at Emirates, but they should still be able to put up a decent fight. Look for Arsenal to take all three points though with a two-goal win.
Sportsbook William Hill lists the current odds of an Arsenal win at 4/11 with an Aston Villa victory at 9/1 and a draw at 10/3.