Arsenal v Aston Villa – the preview

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This roller coaster of a season will finally end today. The Villans head to north London to face Arsenal on the final day of the 2015-16 Premier League season, which has been characterised by more spills than thrills for the B6 brigade.

Should Tottenham Hotspur lose against an already relegated Newcastle United today, the chance to finish second in the league is still technically obtainable for Arsene Wenger’s men.

Match details

Venue: The Emirates, London
Date: Sunday 15th May 2016
Kick-off: 15:00
Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Team news:

Caretaker manager Eric Black told the press that defenders Ciaran Clark and Alan Hutton are doubts for today’s game.

Aly Cissokho will return from suspension after picking up a red card for hauling down Watford’s Anya. He will probably slot straight back in to the starting line-up.

Rudy Gestede has recovered from a groin strain and will look to play a part in today’s game.

The opposition:

Danny Welbeck was ruled out for at least nine months earlier this week, which is a shame for Arsenal and England alike.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also ruled out as he recovers from his long term injury.

Jack Wilshere is looking to make his first start this year in the Premier League.

Mesut Özil  has recovered from his injury and will be available to play.

The midfield trio of Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini will leave Arsenal at the end of the season, so they may feature as they say goodbye to the fans.

The danger men:

Although Alexis Sanchez has been inconsistent this season, he has returned to form at the tail end of the season. Despite having already secured a Champions League spot this season, the Gunners won’t pass up the opportunity to finish above their rivals Tottenham Hotspur, a team that has received plenty of plaudits for having an ‘excellent’ season, while the Gunners have been said to have had a bad season by their standards. Despite the criticism they’ve faced, the fact is that the Gunners remain only two points behind Spurs.

The Chilean international hasn’t quite hit the heights of last season but has still managed to score thirteen goals in the Premier League this season, including six goals in his last seven games. He has also has managed five assists in the league so far and will be looking to extend his record against the visiting Villans today.

Mesut Özil is a player with excellent passing and vision. It’s no surprise that when he is on song the Gunners do very well and when he is struggling for form, the team also struggles. He is a very big player for them and if  the Villa boys manage to nullify his threat then that will force the hosts into finding other ways to control the game. The Villa midfielders should snap at his heels and give him no time on the ball if they want him to have minimum impact on the game. With eighteen assists to his name in the Premier League alone, Black’s boys will have to pay close attention to the German as he’ll be able to carve out opportunities for his team mates with minimal effort.

Recent form:

The Villans had lost eleven games in a row before last week, totalling twenty-six losses for the season before finally ending the rot with a 0-0 draw against Newcastle United.

In all competitions, the Villans have lost four games and drawn one (D L L L L).

The Villans have lost their last five away games in the league (L L L L L).

The Gunners, on the other hand, have hit a bit of form at the right time. In the league, they have drawn three times and won twice in the last five games (D W D W D).

In their last five games at home, they have won three, drawn one and lost one (W W W D L).

In the past:

The corresponding fixture between the two sides earlier this season ended in a comprehensive 0-2 victory for the Gunners. This fixture has not been kind for the Villans in recent history, with Villa being on the losing side twelve out of the last fourteen times the two clubs have faced each other. It just seems so long ago now that Darren Bent’s brace gave the Villans victory in 2011 and the excellent 1-3 victory on the opening day of the 2013-2014 season is another distant memory.

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