Aston Villa should be no match for a rejuvinated Arsenal.
Consecutive victories in the Premier League and FA Cup have restored the feel-good factor at Arsenal, with a change in playing style reaping instant rewards.
Brighton may have broken the Gunners’ defensive resilience and run of clean sheets, but a more direct approach from Arsene Wenger has worked wonders.
Conceding twice at the American Express Community Stadium may have shown there is plenty of work still be done on the defensive front, but Arsenal have rediscovered their ability to be a real attacking threat and they need to build on that against Villa.
It has provided a new lease of life to Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky who appear rejuvenated by a central attacking role that has benefited the entire team. Not only are the Gunners looking more confident going forwards, but also have a new lease of life that could be decisive in the race for a top four finish.
The upcoming league fixture against Aston Villa will undoubtedly see Arsenal installed as strong favourites to record three points, with complacency simply not an option as the Premier League enters the business stage of the season.
A new-found focus on getting the ball forward quicker has paid dividends for Arsenal since the turn of the year, with all the attacking players benefiting from a style of play which suits their telepathic understanding and wonderful array of passing.
Although the whole team showed superb defensive resolve at Manchester City to secure what could be a priceless three points, a home game against a team who have struggled to score goals offers a potential opening for Arsenal to cut loose and make a real statement of intent.
The shock 3-1 defeat in the opening day of last season may add more incentive for Wenger to exact revenge, and with Rosicky and Cazorla on top of their game, fans may be treated to wonderful free-flowing football that carries an end product.
While Olivier Giroud continues to look sharp in front of goal, any touch of class is likely to be provided by Alexis Sanchez who continues to perform at the highest level in Arsenal colours.
The club’s top scorer has been nothing short of outstanding in his first season in the Premier League, and his extended rest at Brighton should be sufficient for the Chilean to face Aston Villa at peak condition to wreak havoc.
Scoring a mere eleven goals in twenty-one league fixtures perfectly illustrates where Aston Villa’s problems have been this season.
While Paul Lambert was without the services of Christian Benteke for the first two or three months of the season, they have found it extremely difficult to not only create chances, but also convert them when it matters.
Just three points separate the Midlands club from a third consecutive relegation battle – one which they are most likely to be sucked into if they do not manage to start hitting the back of the net on a more regular basis.
They will take great confidence from the wonderful win at the Emirates last season, but Aston Villa will have to be on top of their game if they have any hope of taking something against a rampant Arsenal side.
Carles Gil already looks like an inspired signing going by his wonderful performance and goal in the FA Cup against Bournemouth, although Fabian Delph, who recently agreed a new contract, could arguably be the best piece of business Aston Villa carry out this season.
However, they will sorely miss Ron Vlaar and Gabriel Agbonlahor in a game where Villa will have to defend for long periods and rely on quick counter-attacks to stand any chance of leaving North London with a result.