Arsenal will be determined to end a run of four games without a win as they travel to Villa Park, with a win for the home side set to take them temporarily to top spot.
Only the most optimistic of Aston Villa supporters would have expected them to take 10 points from the opening 12 available, and they will be brimming with confidence ahead of this encounter after securing a deserved win at Liverpool. Manager Paul Lambert, along with two key players, extended his contract during the week, and things are now looking rosier.
Defender Philippe Senderos appears to have reinvented himself, contributing superbly alongside Nathan Baker in the absence of Ron Vlaar on Merseyside. Only a deflected Hull City goal has breached the Villa backline this season, so Arsenal will be aware that they face a genuine test.
The Gunners have been heavily criticised for their performance in Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday, where they got away with only a 2-0 defeat. The lack of a quality defensive midfielder was one of the main criticisms, as well as a perceived lack of ruthlessness in new signing Danny Welbeck.
All that disappointment in Germany came after an encouraging display against Manchester City, where their inability to defend crosses proved their undoing late on as they had to settle for a point. The commitment on show was admirable, but three consecutive top-flight draws ensures that this is a crucial game for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Vlaar faces a race against time to be fit for Villa, for whom Christian Benteke is back in training but not yet ready to play. Joe Cole is lacking in match fitness and is still out.
Nacho Monreal and Calum Chambers should be fit to return after missing the game in Germany, but Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Mathieu Debuchy are still out.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Aston