We’re on a roll!

A fourth win in a row (with some cup upsets in other games) made for an upbeat start to the week.

Swiftly followed by the cup draw pairing us with Middlesbrough and the signing of Gabriel Paulista it has – all things considered – been a good week to be an Arsenal fan.

Clicking Into Gear

After an inconsistent start to the season Arsenal are finally playing good football and getting the results to go with it.

We have won 11 of the last 14 since the debacle at Stoke (losing two and drawing one of the other three) and have started to click.

Tomas Rosicky rolled back the years (though he may maintain that he’s ‘only’ thirty-two) last weekend as Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil got themselves amongst the goals for the first time this season.

With the squad looking strong, the players certainly seem upbeat about our chances to make the end of the season an exciting one.

Kieran Gibbs has said that “we have a chance to hit form and we’ll see where we end up”, a sentiment which seems to be shared, at least by Arsène Wenger and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, after seeing some of their comments this week.

Maybe it’s even poetic that this weekend’s game sees the visit of the team on the end of some of our most fluid attacking football in all the first half of the season, as we scored three goals in a devastating three minute spell at Villa Park back in September.

Team News

Arsenal are still without the same absentees as last weekend at Brighton.

Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy still face a few months out, but Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, and Danny Welbeck are much closer to a comeback.

Wilshere is ten days away from training, while Wenger said in his press conference that Welbeck is “really, really, really nearly there.

The only other doubt is over Alexis Sánchez, who has a slight hamstring issue.

Expect Ospina to return in goal after Szczęsny’s cup appearance last weekend while new signing Gabriel Paulista is set to be on the bench.

Only two of Walcott, Özil, and Rosicky are likely to retain their places in the side with Santi Cazorla coming back in.

Possible XI: Ospina; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin; Walcott, Ramsey, Cazorla, Özil; Giroud.

The Opposition

Villa turn up to The Emirates this weekend knowing they can get a result here.

Only Chelsea and Manchester United have better records at our ‘new’ home; Villa have won on three occasions at Emirates Stadium and drawn another two.

Nonetheless, this season has been far from fruitful for The Villains.

They’re currently on course for the lowest scoring season in Premier League history, having netted just eleven goals in the opening twenty-two games.

Lucky, then, that they’ve been fairly tight at the other end; the six teams to have conceded less than Villa this season are all in the top seven.

It’s more than a month (five games) since Aston Villa managed a Premier League goal and seven matches since their last league win, which came against 10-man Leicester City.

Recently, they have enjoyed some respite with two wins in the FA Cup – most recently beating Championship high-flyers Bournemouth 2-1 last weekend, with a cracking goal from new boy Carles Gil.

The visitors have a number of injury doubts, but it remains to be seen whether or not key players Ron Vlaar, Ciaran Clark, Fabian Delph, and Gabriel Agbonlahor will be available.

The defence will, however, remain fairly solid with Lambert’s defensive approach and the ever-impressive emergence of young defender Jores Okore.

Possible XI: Guzan; Hutton, Okore, Clark, Cissokho; Gil, Westwood, Sánchez, Delph, Weimann; Benteke.

Keep It Up

It really is vital to continue our good run this weekend. We have a great opportunity to attack the second half of the season and comfortably claim a Champions League spot, whilst we also have a good draw in Europe and The FA Cup is up for grabs again.

As Wenger said yesterday,

“We’re in an important period where our commitment needs to be at the top level.

“Consistency will decide our future.”

There’s still a lot to play for this season.

Let’s make the most of it with another strong performance.

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