Arsenal vs. Aston Villa
English Premier League
Sunday, Feb 1, 2015
5.30AM PT/8.30AM PT/1.30PM BT
Emirates Stadium, London (Hi Aidan!)
FORM: ARS bought £10 lottery ticket, won £9 | AVL bought £10 lottery ticket, somehow lost £645
US TV: NBCSN | Worldwide TV info: livesoccer.tv
So, remember back when everyone was hurt, Arsenal weren't playing that well, and there was much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments about The Future and How Will The Team Cope? Guess what, sports fans? Arsenal are extremely healthy right now - apart from the long-term absentees, only Alexis is a doubt for this game, with tightness in his hamstring - and have won four games in a row across two competitions, including the small matter of a win against Manchester City.
So it's fair to say, I think, that confidence is pretty high in the squad right now - just in time for a visit from Aston Villa, who haven't scored in the Premier League in almost nine hours (their last league goal was scored on December 20). They've scored a few in the Cup, sure, but their league form is pretty dire right now, and they currently sit 15th, three points above the drop zone, having scored a grand total of 11 goals in 22 games; Alexis has 12.
New boy Gabriel will almost certainly be in the squad - he may get some time, but hopefully he won't be needed and can take another week to get to know his teammates better. As mentioned, Alexis is out, but otherwise Arsene has something he hasn't had for a while - a selection headache.
I'm not sure why Villa have had two five game scoreless streaks this season - you'd think the trio of Christian Benteke, Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Andreas Weimann would score more than 11 goals combined, but here Villa are. Joe Cole, Ron Vlaar, and old favorite Phillipe Senderos are all out for Villa, but loanee Scott Sinclair will probably get a start as Villa look to halt their scoreless streak.
I won't tempt fate by talking about how easy this game should be. But, y'know. Villa.