It’s December, so Arsenal’s season hasn’t collapsed. Yet. That usually happens when they exit the Champions League. A complete performance on Wednesday against Olympiakos means they’re now awaiting their annual last 16 exit in February. But domestically, the Gunners are beginning to fire, and now come up against the worst villains in Europe. No, not Michael Owen, who steals a wage for his footballing ‘insight’, but bottom side Aston Villa.
All the evidence suggests this is an away banker.
- Arsenal are the top scoring team away from home after Leicester.
- They have the highest shot accuracy at 53%, they’ve created the most chances.
- Olivier Giroud has scored in each of his last four appearances against Villa
- Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil also love playing the Villains (Walcott has four in his last six against them)
On the contrast, Villa are yet to win at home this season, and only have five victories at Villa Park in 2015. Only managed to score five goals in front of their own fans. To put it into context, Chelsea are in better form than Villa. Chelsea! A solitary victory over Bournemouth at the start of the season is all the Villains have had to cheer. They will need to pick up points soon, particularly as they have to play three of the four teams closest to them before the first week of 2016.
Remi Garde was signed by Arsene Wenger the same day that Patrick Vieira arrived. One of them went on to win a World Cup, a European Championship, and three Premier Leagues, the other… manages Aston Villa. Arsenal won four times last season against Villa, scoring 15 goals, conceding none, including the FA Cup final, and looked comfortable in all games.
In terms of odds, Arsenal will win this (). The value is in the goalscorers. Giroud if he starts will score at least once (he’s for two or more) , but if he doesn’t, bank on a returning Walcott for anytime goalscorer (). He came on against Sunderland for half an hour last weekend, and with Giroud having worked during the week, the Englishman could get a start up front.
For Villa, it’s hard to pick someone that’ll stand out. Big Rudy Gestede will win most headers he goes up for so at , he isn’t a bad shout either. But it’ll be tough, Arsenal have only conceded six in their last eight games, and the Gunners are firing on all cylinders at the moment. They’ll send a message ahead of a huge game against Man City next week.