Arsenal vs Aston Villa preview: Diaby can perform in Cesc’s absence

So Christmas is over and it’s back to the football today as Arsenal take on Aston Villa. Our boys currently sit third in the league with Villa a spot behind only on goal difference so it looks to be an excellent contest.

The big news going into the game is the possible return of Cesc Fabregas. Arsene Wenger has rated him as 50:50 to play so there’s no certainty he will feature, but the return of the captain would be a huge boost to the rest of the team. He is the player most capable of making the inch-perfect passes we need for our attacking game to flourish without a physical presence and the manager must be feeling a huge temptation to play him even if he’s not 100%.

There is a risk involved of course and I feel the manager may err on the side of caution. Alex Song is leaving for Africa shortly and any further aggravation of Cesc’s injury would leave our midfield without the two key members for a period choc-a-block full of games. While I will be hoping to see Cesc start I don’t think I would personally like to see him play if he’s not fully fit. Abou Diaby had a great game against Hull and I see no reason why he couldn’t perform again in the absence of the captain.

One player who is likely to be returning to the side is Armand Traore. The Frenchman has been passed fully-fit by the manager and his pace may come in invaluable to helping curtail Villa’s threat. Their attacking game is based on the extreme pace of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young, the power of John Carew and Emile Heskey and the crossing ability of Young and Stewart Downing, so both of our full-backs will have to work extremely hard on their wingers to prevent the crosses coming in. For all of Traore’s flaws he looks to be a much better option than Mikael Silvestre for this particular game and it will be reassuring to see him back.

The importance of this game cannot be understated. A win would not only help us make some more ground up on Chelsea at the top but also give us some breathing space from the chasing pack of Villa and Co behind. Villa are in extremely good form at the moment so beating them would also send out a strong psychological message to the rest of the league that we absolutely mean business this season. Meanwhile a loss would see Villa leapfrog us into third and send out more doubt that our players tend to struggle against the bigger sides.

It is imperative that our back four as well as Song have good games, while a confident and commanding performance by Manuel Almunia would make life a lot easier for a defensive group that will be bombarded in the air. Villa like to play swiftly on the counter so it’s important our midfield works as a unit to both starve the away side of possession and organise quickly when we lose it.

Up front we’ll be looking for more inspiration from Andrey Arshavin while Samir Nasri should start again after being cleared of the stepping incident against Hull. That will leave one spot up for grabs which will probably go to either Theo Walcott or Eduardo. My thoughts are that the manager may feel Eduardo’s return to form and the scoresheet midweek was an indication that he has turned a corner while the pace of Walcott as well as Carlos Vela may be better used off the bench.

It’s going to be a big one. Here’s to three points.

Have your say on Arsenal v Aston Villa by leaving a comment.



  1. Talking about Aston Villa is making me more scared of them and lost confidence of the Arsenal defence . Although Arsenal’s defence are now as strong as solid, But the Villa’s attack are very2 strong! Good luck Arsenal!

  2. if chelsea won that way-i mean the draw they snatched from city ,then it really meant business to our side,if we can grab maximum points from villa then it will send amessage to other tittle contenders. and aloss will mean villa goes past us-ARSENAL WINS THIS!!!

  3. Am sure all our fans throughout the world are presently fasting and praying for the success of our great team Arsenal. The celebration of the birth of jesus christ is our anchor for the maximum three points. Good luck. . . Biodun

  4. really not many people here today, it’s difficult to say much for me so far concerning the match, arsenal keep playing but are not forcing enough, best chance missed by Eduardo, Shava quiet, some good situations but the killer or the fortune is missing, so we have to be patient and hoping the goal falls on the right side…………..:wink:

  5. it’s me again, so I am fix and foxi about this match, what a difference a man makes, and Happy Christmas……… faby needed 20 minutes to decide the game, so sad that his injuriy set back, suddenly the whole match looked in another way, it was so exciting and Almunia gets his confidence back too I think, so great, so deserved, great match to watch, I am out of my housy (German speaking) so enjoy the rest of the evening…………… :happy:

  6. I love Cesc Fabregas. And Armand Traore is impressing me more and more every game. I think he is probably better than Gibbs though I doubt people will want to hear that.

  7. Great game for our boys! Villa’s speedy players really never got to a top speed today. That’s down to our backs and solid midfield play. Edwardo will come good eventually, except the miss he had a good game. Troure was solid. What can you say about Fab? 28mins and 2 goals! You could see the hunger when he came in. Walcott had a good outing and that will do him a world of good. I believe everyone did very well. Arsha didn’t get into the game until Fab showed up. Oh well, let’s enjoy this and focus on the next game. Is Diaby turn out to be what Wenger said he would be all along?

  8. Cesc is the Big Boss guys, no question about that, and screw you people speculating Cesc moving to Barca next year.One of the best game we played Ive seen so far, what an entertainement!!!!! We are better than Barca, i see us being the best team in Europe or may be the world, its a pitty that we dont have RVP with our current form.What a team we have guys!!!! Apart from Cesc, Song and the back4, Once again ive been very impressed with Diaby, Deny, and particularely Traore.Diaby was may be our second best player after Cesc .
    The movement on the pitch was incredible, with an endless attack and shot on goal , many on target.I just cant express my joy after a wonderfull performance full of entertainement from our boys.

  9. Got called into work toda,……..hold Iit…….SHITTTTTTTTTTTTTTT! MANPO HAVE JUST GOT AN O FUCKING G TO GO FUCKING 1-2 UP. What is it with that team and lady luck. Ive only just just found out about Wengers men while walking through the door from work, how did they play. Ive seen none of the goals, who looked good, how was my man Diaby did e perform. Will someone fill me in please.

  10. great display….umteen efforts on goal and comprhensive dismantling of a dangerous in form opponent,wot more cud u ask for???cesc is just a legend,a real leader.still think we need a clinical ruthless goalscorer tho.diaby finished the game the way he started….on fire,wot a difference confidence makes,hes bringin something different and i think andy has been proved correct,hes got the ability to turn and do the unexpected….deni also impressive today

  11. WHAT……WHAT DID U SAY SHAMBO, Andy has been correct about my man Diaby. Shambo, please please look back in the history of these comments on Diaby when he first came on the scene and he was showing moments of skill, but to often lost the ball, i cant remember many people standing up for him but me. Remember a blogger whoes name fails me kept going on about Denilson and how good he was but kept saying how crap Diaby was. I was one of the few who had my mans back. Shambo that really hurt. Andy am i correct or am i correct. Any way how were the other performances, did Theo start or get on as sub.

  12. ArmandT looks a good fullback. Can defend and crosses better than Clichy. Hoping the Hammers beat the team who also want to be our shadow.

  13. ice,slow down dude,i know u wer always behind those two players….fact is i dont normally argue with you so i said id pay andy his due for being spot on!!!arsha was quiet mate,and nasri was peropheral at times…every1 else did their bit,song was his usual self and diaby,deni and traoare wer impressive i thought

  14. BIG SHOUT TO THE MIDFIELD BOYS. Laninja, what chance do you think we have. Defoe will return with fresh legs could be very dangerous for the tottyhams

  15. Bruceinatlanta, ive seen some pictures on the cnn news of the snow in the states. Is it affecting you in any way and how have u vellas taken to the news on The Tiger and what was really thought by all on Beckham. Have u been blown away by his skills as the english media try to portray u do. What do you guys think about the ammers.

  16. My ratings

    * Manuel Almunia,9
    * Bacary Sagna, 9
    * Thomas Vermaelen, 9
    * William Gallas, 9
    * Armand Traore, 9
    * Vassiriki Abou Diaby, 10
    * Samir Nasri, 10
    * Pereira Neves Denilson 9, (Cesc Fabregas, 10),
    * Alexandre Song, 10
    * Andrey Arshavin, 9
    * Da Silva Eduardo, 9 (Theo Walcott, 10)

    So who is right? The Positivists who see what Wenger has done in building up this team from a group of kids with a handful of big time purchases, or the Doom Mongers who see disaster in a 3-0 beating of the 4th placed team?

    a few facts I just picked up from the BBC web site…

    • Arsenal have scored more goals (82) and lost fewer matches (five) in the Premier League this year than any other club.

    • Arsenal are the division’s leading scorers with 47 goals.

    We might buy one more player, true, but wholesale changes at this time? I don’t think so

  17. I can’t say enough about the intangibles of the game! How lucky was Villa in the first ten minutes? How much penetration and team play did we achieve in the first 25 until the game finally settled down? And, when the game settled down it was not like Villa had anything other than the fast breaks or counters which would be predictable. Probably the most pessimistic thought in my mind would be for Wenger was having to bring in Fabs. But, talk about an intro! The caller in my mind was a “Liar” or a “Plant”. Because anybody that saw the first 45 knew straightaway we would win! Even Almunia barked today! That’s all I want Almunia just Bark go crazy back there! Almunia, you worked your Arse off today! By the way I make no bones about it! I picked 3-0 you check it on yesterdays post! I also enjoy my predictions for a win! “Hartwick89
    December 26th, 2009 at 12:40 pm
    Good Read;
    I think the key this year and this game will be decided on no own goals (Clichy out) which was the result of the quick counter attacks up through the left through the pouty Young; and Vermaelen’s ability to bully a bully Ablonglahor. Sagna will also have to be spot on both defensively to control the pacy Young crosses and as well occupy Young on the Lefr with overlapping runs. Also, this year what’s different is we have the maturity and the composure up front. If we can be patient and efficient up front and Song can be massive in stuttering the first penetration Arsenal could walk-away 3-0. Of Late Nasri is really showing his flair and if Fabs is 50-50 maybe Diaby gets the nod coming off an impressive 1 goal 1 assist game. Arsenal are on a run right now and the only thing that could be dangerous for us is if Aston Villa have belief..That would only happen if we concede first without a proper response. I think though Villa is in for it and this is the time of the year where Villa sart to crack. I look forward to Arsene making sure our boys make them crack. 3-0 to me would be a sign that Villa have no business being in the top 4. Also, remember Gunners this i that cocky, arrogant team that came to Emirates and cleaned our clocks and then Gabby said Aston Villa were better down the stretch than Arsenal and would be in the top 4? Well prove it you punk!” And, How about Vermealen on all 4’s protecting that ball like his life depended on it! Almunia getting stuck in 2x like his life depended on it. Fabregas running his ass off for his second goal like his life depended on it, Traoure completely anihilating both Young and downing, Sagna owning the right flank. And, Gallas being so bored towards the end getting caught up! Nasri don’t forget that you and your Frenchy French International Diaby owned the MF because of the Help of Denilson. Lastly, Eduardo & Arshavin the weakest links today really speaks loudly! Because on a better day with these two at thier best the score would have been 7-0.

  18. @Deep,

    That was great prediction. I have read it before and you predicted more than just the score. I thought you were crazy first, but I got to hand it to you, that was spot on! Also, an accurate post match description.

  19. Still wanna see how diaby does agains teams that pressure hard in midfield. His problem is decision making and getting the ball out quickly

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