Aston Villa v Arsenal – Match preview and team news

Aston Villa welcome an Arsenal side which have experienced an upturn in fortunes of late following a sticky run of form.

Paul Lambert’s Villains will be looking to recover from their 5-0 battering at the hands of Manchester City last week and move out of the relegation zone which they currently reside in. On the other hand, visitors Arsenal will be looking to close the gap between them and the Champions League places, which currently stands at four points.

Villa are able to call upon striker Darren Bent again after the England international missed three matches with an ankle problem. However, Villa’s record transfer purchase is still likely to begin on the bench due to the good form shown by Christian Benteke, Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonhalor. However, Bent’s return coupled with Eric Lichaj’s recovery from a leg injury, at least provides some respite for Lambert, who remains without the services of Joe Bennet, Chris Herd, Charles N’Zogbia and Richard Dunne.

Visitors Arsenal travel to Villa Park high on confidence following their 5-2 victory over North London rivals Tottenham last week, followed by a comfortable 2-0 win over Montpellier that secured qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the 13th consecutive season.

Arsene Wenger’s men will be without Theo Walcott as the striker has still not recovered from the shoulder injury he picked up against Tottenham, while Andre Santos, Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky also remain on the sidelines.

However, both Gervinho and particularly Kieran Gibbs are pushing for starts after making their returns from ankle and thigh injuries respectively against Montpellier, while Olivier Giroud looks set to continue as the Gunners’ forward focal point, flanked by Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

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