Aston Villa Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups
f you told me a couple of months ago that the Gunners were going to play a match without Alexis Sanchez I would have chewed off all the nails in my fingers in fear, and probably go on to chew another person’s fingers too. Alexis Sanchez is more or less Arsenal and according to the stats boys, Sanchez is top for goals (12), assists (7), chances created (57), shots (45) & dribbles (143).
So we learn that he has a hamstring strain and Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he’s unlikely to risk his Chilean maverick. But guess what? Santi Cazorla is in the form of his life, Olivier Giroud has been chipping in the goals on a regular basis, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil made goalscoring returns from their injury layoff, Tomas Rosicky still has that fire in his belly despite his age and of course, Aaron Ramsey is still trying to get a hang of things. So yeah, Alexis deserves to get some rest.
After a two-week break, the Premier League returned to our screens with Hull struggling again against a Newcastle side that had not secured a win since Alan Pardew left for Crystal Palace. Comedy errors gifted the Magpies all three points but unfortunately the final scoreline wasn’t a true reflection of how things panned out but hey, that’s football. Then there the 4.00pm fixtures that saw Tottenham continue their good form with Harry Kane on the score sheet again and Manchester United eased past Leicester, which makes today’s fixture an all-important clash. The final match of the day between Chelsea and Manchester City was meant to be a tasty clash but it turned out to be a boring fest.
To team news, I expect David Ooooooooooooooooospina to replace Wojciech Szczesny in goal, unless he has picked the kind of peculiar injury a goalie picks up when he has taken Szczesny’s place. Calum Chambers did okay against Brighton but you’d Hector Bellerin to get the nod ahead of the Englishman while it would be interesting to see who features on the left with Kieran Gibbs coming back to full fitness and Nacho Monreal in a good time patch of form. The central defensive pairing picks itself with Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker in the heart of the rearguard. Gabriel Paulista’s time will definitely come.
In midfield, Wenger is blessed with a plethora of options and it’s nice seeing him have a headache on the players to use. Francis Coquelin has risen up the food chain to become Arsenal’s primary holding midfielder so he’d return to the starting XI ahead of Mathieu Flamini. I’d expect Aaron Ramsey to continue in the box to box role while the red-hot Santi Cazorla continues strutting his stuff in the advanced midfield role. With Walcott and Mesut Özil still working their way to full fitness, I’d expect Rosicky and the German to support Olivier Giroud on the flanks.
Ospina; Bellerin – Koscielny – Mertesacker – Gibbs; Coquelin; Ozil – Cazorla – Coquelin – Ramsey – Rosicky; Giroud
Enjoy the game wherever you are