Arsenal play, Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners go into the clash with Aston Villa full of confidence after their 2-0 win against Manchester United last Saturday, which saw the North London club bounce straight back after defeat to Stoke City at the Britannia the week before. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will want to collect all three points against Villa in order to keep in touch with Chelsea and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
The Villans go into this clash with Arsenal on the back of two straight league defeats to Newcastle United and then more surprisingly Middlesbrough at Villa Park last weekend. This mini-blip has seen the Midlands side lose a little ground at the sharp end of the table, with Aston Villa hoping to take something away from the Emirates to keep the promising start to the campaign on track.
Wenger will bring back his regular first-team squad for the visit of Villa, having played his youngsters in the 3-0 Carling Cup win against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday. However, he faces a selection dilemma in the centre of defence, with Gunners captain William Gallas available after injury, Wenger must decide whether to leave out Mikael Silvestre, who has earned a recall to the French squad on the back of recent displays for Arsenal.
Robin van Persie is suspended for Arsenal and Emmanuel Adebayor (ankle) is only rated 50/50 by Wenger, while goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has a better chance of playing against Villa.
“We will assess the situation of Adebayor on Friday," Wenger told the club website. “He is 50-50.
“We have to assess Almunia too. He is 70-30 at the moment.
“He has to go into a normal (training) game to see how he deals with it.”
Emmanuel Eboue (knee) and long-term absentee Tomas Rosicky (hamstring), will miss the clash, but Wenger will be boosted by Croatian International Eduardo’s progress, who is only a week or so away from a return for Arsenal after his broken leg.
Aston Villa are hopeful Stiliyan Petrov (hamstring) and Luke Young (thigh) will be fit to face the Gunners, but will be missing long-term injured Wilfred Bouma (ankle) for their trip to the Emirates, with striker John Carew also a doubt for the clash with a hip problem.
Arsenal: (from) Almunia, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Sagna, Fabregas, Walcott, Diaby, Denilson, Song, Adebayor, Bendtner, Ramsey, Vela, Fabianski, Silvestre, Djourou, Wilshere, Nasri, Vela, Mannone, Bischoff, Fonte, Gibbs, Hoyte, Lansbury, Randall, Simpson
Aston Villa: (from) Friedel, L Young, Sidwell, Laursen, Barry, A Young, Milner, Harewood, Carew, Agbonlahor, Delfouneso, Davies, Knight, Salifou, Routledge, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Shorey, Guzan, Cuellar, Gardner, Osbourne