Villa have been impressive so far this season and have only conceded one goal in their opening four games, but they have only scored four. They set themselves up to defend in depth and hit the opposition on the break and it has worked very well so far. They used that same tactic in the opening day victory away to Arsenal last season and I expect them to do so again despite being the home team. It's a tactic which worked well for them when they won away to Liverpool last week, but it's one which requires a lot of defensive discipline.
I have no doubt Villa will try to get in Arsenal's faces and close them down all over the pitch. It's a tactic which has worked for other teams against Arsenal and the Arsenal players and Arsene Wenger need to find a way to combat it. For me the best way to get past a team putting so much pressure on you is to use the ball very quickly and make sure your passing is spot on and you're not caught in possession. Arsenal have the players who are capable of doing just that and they will have to work hard if they are going to do so.
In team news Calum Chambers is fit to return after his bout of tonsillitis and I would imagine he will come in for Hector Bellerin at right back. I don't expect there to be any other changes in the defence as there are no other defenders available with Nacho Monreal out in the short team and Mathieu Debuchy for a fair bit longer. David Ospina has declared himself fit and ready to go in goal and must think a chance could be coming his way with Wojciech Szczesny suffering a few lapses recently. I think Ospina will play in the Capital One Cup against Southampton to see how he fares for the first time in English football.
After the midweek display there has to be questions about some of the other players though and a few of those on the sidelines will feel they should get a chance. I would love to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain get a start and I think he showed enough when he came on against Dortmund to suggest he will give it his all. I can't understand how Chamberlain has continually been left on the bench this season and I think he has an awful lot to offer the team.
I'm not so sure how well the players are adapting to the current formation and it certainly isn't offering the defensive stability the manager wants from it. I think Arsenal have to play their best players in their best positions and that means playing Mesut Ozil as the midfield playmaker. If Chamberlain is on one side and Alexis Sanchez on the other with Danny Welbeck through the middle I think there will be loads of attacking flair in the team.
Where that leaves Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere is another thing, but every player can't play every game. I'm not exactly advocating dropping the pair of them, but I would like to see how Ozil can do with those attacking players around him. If he is chosen there it would not be a bad idea to play Flamini behind him and maybe even Arteta too, but I think Ramsey or Wilshere could play in that role also. Where that would leave Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky is another matter altogether, but it's a squad game and there will be plenty of chances for everybody throughout the season.
It does look like Arsenal have too many similar players in midfield who are all vying for one or two places in the team. This has led to players playing out of position and I think the team needs to find some balance. The best way to find that balance is through bringing the players the squad needs in during the transfer window, but that's closed until January.
I've heard quite a few experts telling us that Villa are a good bet to beat Arsenal and they certainly are on the face of it. When it comes to the crunch though Arsenal have much better players and it's a matter of arranging those players in the right way and getting the best out of them. It's up to the manager to do that, but there is also a lot of emphasis on the players to give their all to the cause.
I'm hoping to see a reaction from the players after Tuesday night's disappointing performance and for them to give Villa a very hard afternoon. Welbeck is due his first goal after coming so close in the first two games and I fancy him to get on the scoresheet. I love watching Sanchez play and even though some of his passing leaves a bit to be desired his work rate and commitment is second to none and he makes things happen.
I thought the team were getting going against City last week with a good attacking display even if the defending wasn't the greatest. They never really clicked in August and it's getting to a stage where they need to get their own game going if something is going to happen this season. It was a false dawn judging by Tuesday night, but the players have a chance to make amends and get back on track today.
I don't expect to see the team I suggested playing, but I do expect to see the players give their all and go for the win. With games against Sours and Chelsea coming up in the next two weeks Arsenal need to find some form and bringing Villa crashing back to earth would be a nice way to do that. I'm going for a narrow Arsenal victory and I'm hoping for a good team performance to set them up nicely for the challenges ahead.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.