All of the teams at the top of the table have shown plenty of vulnerability and a good run by Arsenal could see them in a much better position in just over a week. After today's game they have to travel to Everton on Wednesday night and then play at home to Swansea next Saturday. It's a tough week for players who had to give their all against Spurs last Saturday and again against Montpellier on Wednesday night.
Every three points have to be fought for in the Premier League and it's not easy to see what players might be rested today. I'm sure there will be a few players rested though and I would imagine Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Gervinho will be hoping to play from the start. There are no new injuries to report from Wednesday night's game, but there is no return for Theo Walcott who got injured last Saturday either.
Villa were beaten 5-0 away to City last week and the defeat saw them slip into the relegation zone. They have had real difficulty scoring goals this season with only 10 goals in 12 games. I have also noticed that they tend to capitulate a little in the second half occasionally.
City put four past them in the second half last week, United did it three times the previous week and Southampton managed four in the second half earlier in the season. That's half of all the goals they have let in so far in the second halves of only three matches. They are there for the taking after the break as long as Arsenal can play their own football no matter what happens in the first half today.
Of course Arsenal haven't exactly being playing their best football for the past month, but the wins over Spurs and Montpellier were great boost for the team. Spurs may have played well with 10 men, but Arsenal put five past them and could have had more too. The second half performance on Wednesday night was much more like an Arsenal one and the defence looked solid for the first time in quite a while.
More of the same today is needed with plenty of service for Olivier Giroud who is in a great vein of form at the moment. He is scoring goals which ever striker needs to do, but he is also making goals for other pplayers. As the rest of the team get more used to him I think his assist rate will increase with his ability to lay the ball off in just the right place from his head.
I'm predicting a 3-1 win for Arsenal and I'm hoping the victory last Saturday was the first in a run of wins to propel them up the table. With three points for a victory it's amazing how quickly ground can be made up and other teams left behind too. As long as Arsenal can continue the current improvement there is every chance they will be the ones making up ground on the teams above them.
Here's the highlights of the FA Cup victory over Villa last season.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.