Well, here we have it – the Saturday that many a football fan has been waiting for has almost arrived. The Barclays Premier League returns tomorrow and for supporters of Aston Villa it begins with an away trip to the wonderful Emirates. In recent seasons Villa have fared relatively well away at Arsenal and have been unlucky in the games which ended in defeat, like last season’s, for example. The start to the 2013/2014 season couldn’t have been much harder for Paul Lamberts team with 3 games in 7 days all against teams that will be competing at the top end of the table when May comes around again. Two trips to London and a home game against Liverpool, all in seven days, will test the youthful lions to their max and points taken from any of those games would signify great results and give the B6 faithful a great deal of confidence at the start of the new campaign.
Paul Lambert is expected to hand debuts to two, possibly three, of his new signings for the trip to the Emirates. Jores Okore and Antonio Luna are fully expected to make their senior bows and will look to shore up a defence which leaked goals last season. Also, with Yacouba Sylla out injured (ankle), Lambert is left with El Ahmadi, Bacuna or Tonev to fill the gap left by the ever impressive Sylla. I expect a midfield three of Westwood, Delph and El Ahmadi to try and combat the mobile Arsenal midfield. Therefore, I anticipate Tonev making an appearance from off the bench when the game is becoming stretched and players are
beginning to tire. A front three of Benteke, Weimann and Agbonlahor will look to continue their impressive form from last season and bag the all important goal which should ensure a positive result.
The Opposition – Arsenal
As far as the transfer windows goes, Arsenal have become this year’s laughing stock with player after player deciding against joining Arsene Wenger’s team and deciding that their futures lie elsewhere. Having spent a total of £0 this season with Luis Gustavo recently joining Wolfsburg instead of the Gunners, many Arsenal fans have become increasingly disappointed with the antics at the Emirates.
On the pitch, Arsenal will be looking not to have a repeat of last season, where they left it until the last day to secure fourth place ahead of their bitter rivals Tottenham.
Although, in my opinion, they won’t be up there challenging for the title, I expect that with one or two quality signings then Arsenal can have a really good go at finishing third and qualifying for the Champions League group stages instead of having to qualify like this season.
Arsenal are set to be without three key players for the curtain raiser at The Emirates, with Mikel Arteta, Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen all out of the game tomorrow. However, Arsene Wenger could be ready to hand a debut to their only summer signing so far – Yaya Sanogo.
Kick Off: 15.00
Venue: The Emirates
Tickets: Sold out
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Last Season: Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa