What’s the point of going to the Ems when we tell you the score in advance? Arsenal v the Villa

Phil Gregory got the score against Hull absolutely right, following on the overwhelmingly brilliant prediction here for the Liverpool game.  Indeed we also got the Burnley match absolutely right apart from the score and the result.

So here we go again with Phil’s preview and prediction.  Oh and don’t forget the excitingly stunning advertisement for “Making the Arsenal” at the end of the piece.


Arsenal host the Premier League’s form team in the shape of Aston Villa this Sunday.  Martin O’Neill’s side will be no strangers to Arsenal fans, having pushed us for the fourth Champions League place for much of the 08/09 season.

Personally, I’m really anticipating this tie.  If you’ve been reading Untold Arsenal for a while you hopefully don’t remember me in the “Rivals Review” series ranking Villa at the bottom of a pile of top four wannabes. Since then Villa have performed impressively, with O’Neill’s signings naturally proving shrewd acquisitions after my criticism of his seemingly xenophobic transfer dealings.

Recent form:

Aston Villa have been impressive since struggling to a home draw over Tottenham, with good away wins over Sunderland, Manchester United and Portsmouth.

Any Arsenal fans feeling complacent in regards to this match should note that we lost at two of those grounds, though Villa were unimpressive in their 1-0 win over a Stoke side that travel poorly.

Much has been made of the Villan’s impressive defensive record in the league this season, and they have conceded the least goals in the League so far this season. Seven clean sheets, with no goals conceded in the last four games is impressive, but is only two less than the Arsenal, at the cost of scoring a staggering  fifteen fewer goals in the league.

Arsenal have an impressive 10 points from 12 in their last four league matches and despite crucial  personnel out injured up front, look like a side showing the consistency Wenger pinpoints as key to the eventual league champions.

While starting sluggishly against Hull, Arsenal eventually swept away Phil Brown’s finest and will feel little fear from a Villa side equal on points with us having played a game more.


Cesc Fabregas is rated as 50:50 for the match, having pulled out of training on Christmas Eve.

Armand Traore is passed fit to play, though long term absentees Van Persie and Djourou are out for the foreseeable future.

Niklas Bendtner, Tomas Rosicky and Gael Clichy are all out until early January, while Englishman Gibbs is out until February.

Although the Guardian is reporting Nasri is suspended, this is not true.

Aston Villa are without England international Emile Heskey, while defenders Bouma and Davies are out until the new year. Craig Gardner is expected to be out for the match with a back injury, but there is a chance he will recover in time.

Key men:

With John Carew one yellow away from suspension and a crucial home tie versus Liverpool coming up for the Villans, expect to see Gabriel Agbonlahor start up front on his own. The pacey England international has eight league goals so far this campaign, and will need looking to add to his total; on the break for Villa.

Petrov has been pinpointed by his own team-mates as a key player in this clash, with the Bulgarian international having reinvented himself as a holding midfield player since his move from Celtic. Expect the Villa captain to keep tight in the middle of the park and attempt to stifle Arsenal’s creativity.

Thomas Vermaelen, purchased to shore up an Arsenal back-line vulnerable to high balls into the box will be tested by a Villa side looking to hit on the break. The Belgian won’t struggle to deal with the Villan’s crosses, but he will have to be wary of the pace of Agbonlahor and Young.

With Villa likely to pack the midfield, Alex Song will be looking to shine in a tight midfield battle. The Cameroonian’s class is sure to come to the fore against what is a hard-working, but ultimately relatively average Villa midfield three. Expect him to have a key role to play too in regards to dealing with those high balls, and of course snuffing out Villa counter attacks at the source.

Arsenal predicted line-up:

  • Almunia
  • Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Traore
  • Song
  • Denilson Fabregas
  • Nasri Eduardo Arshavin

Subs: Fabianksi, Diaby, Eboue, Walcott, Ramsey, Vela, Wilshere

Fairly self-explanatory team here. With Traore ruled fit we have the pacey set of fullbacks needed to cope with Villa’s speed down the flanks, while Vermaelen is the man to head away their crosses. Almunia, while not the most commanding of goalkeepers will have a renewed confidence after a penalty save last time out in front of the Emirates faithful.

Song will be our ever-present holder and won’t struggle to contain a decidedly average Villa midfield. Fabregas, despite recently overcoming an injury will start while Denilson will probably score as many free kicks as he gets opportunities as well as playing his usual understated, intelligent game in the middle of the park.

Our Russian genius will be manoeuvred out to the left forward position, with Eduardo Da Silva set to put in a performance of quality and confidence in the central strikers role. Nasri takes over in the right forward slot, with Theo on the bench ready to impress if he gets the opportunity.


Though Villa went 442 against United, I’m expecting them to line up 451 against us. O’Neill could well have wanted to take advantage of a weakened United defence, especially with some just back from injury. With Heskey out and Carew a single yellow away from missing the Liverpool clash, I’m expecting Agbonlahor as the lone striker. This lends itself to the belief Villa will pack the midfield and attempt to stifle us, and hope to catch us on the break or take advantage of the set pieces.

We’ll need to be clinical and take our chances, and force Villa to come out and play. I expect us to break them down: players such as Arshavin and Nasri have the flair to take men on and create space. While their team is hard-working and spirited (and should not be taken lightly) we have the better team on paper and with home advantage, we should be picking up the three points. We should also consider that with a game against Liverpool on the following Tuesday, some may believe O’Neill will have one eye on that fixture.

It won’t be easy, but 2-1 to the Arsenal.

Phil Gregory is a 20 year old student at the University of Leeds. Studying Economics and French, he’s been a Gunner since he got interested in football at a young age, and is often sighted at the away games in the North and Midlands.

The ads…

44 Replies to “What’s the point of going to the Ems when we tell you the score in advance? Arsenal v the Villa”

  1. its so hard to choose a perfect starting line up even with all the injuries. I tell you, it ain’t easy being AW.

  2. I disagree, Villa will play 4-4-2 with Carew and draw 1-1.
    Fab won’t last the full 90 and his protoge Ramsey will score a late leveller.

  3. Some people are saying that Fabregas is going to be the key and that without him Arsenal don’t stand a chance against Villa. Well, I beg to differ. Last year what won the game for Villa at the Emirates was their strength in midfield and up front. I think it was Sidwell (not sure) and Barry who had totally dominated against the likes of Denilson and Fabregas, who are welterweight at best. The difference this time however is we have Alex Song to match Villa’s physicality in the middle. Fabregas not playing could be a boon in disguise because I expect Diaby to take his place and he is someone who can handle the physicality in advance positions which can create chances for the likes of Arshavin and Eduardo by keeping defenders occupied. But if Ramsey plays instead of Fabregas, that would certainly be a kick up the backside. Also, Vermaelen and Gallas against Agbonlahor and Carew is going to be interesting.
    I just hope Arsenal wins!

  4. Arsenal to lose…..3-0.

    Alas. But, that is my feeling. And I truly think that German sounding Frenchman, Wenger, is wholly overated…
    What say you all?

  5. A cracking view….Yes Wenger is past his sell by date and is overrated.

    And we, ARSENAL, are destined to win sweet FA…for maybe 5 years or so!

  6. Good, insightful analysis of the possibilities presented by Villa. I agree on all aspects, except the score. I’m looking for 3-2 to the Arsenal. Come on you Redsssssss!!!!

  7. I’m going for a 3-1 for us as I feel this villa side are too hyped for their own good. Walcott might have a say in the second half, I really hope that he becomes a arsenal legend. vermaelan has been the brightest spark in this season and i hope to see him in our hall of fame very soon, he could also be our skipper if/when fab decides to leave

  8. I hope time for Ed to wake up ….

    Aston Villa plays hard. so i would rather Silvestre & Diaby upon Traore who just came back of injury & Nasri. If Cesc aint 100% so I will place Nasri as a playmaker.
    I believe we will win it 2-0, with Eduardo & Arshavin netting….
    go gunners & merry X-mas for all of you gooners around the globe

  9. Really good preview Phil, but there are few details I would not agree with you. Even Villans nominally play 4-4-2, or 4-5-1 (as you mentioned) to me, it more look as 4-6-0 as Ferguson liked to play (while late CR7 was alive and diving). Difference is that Villa have lack of options playing it while Manure could play on fast counterattack or set piece, Villa can only hope they will caught Galas and Vermaelen sleeping and use Young and Agbonlahor speed.
    So this game will win the one who make less wrong passes in midfield.
    For me, more important in this game is to understand, it mean nothing (except it may hurt pride and vanity), with or without beating Villa we are deep in game, and serious title contenders.
    But I believe it will be hard game in which both teams score (I hope, we, more).

  10. Villa won last season because Arsenal did not turn up, plus there was a lot of gamesmanship from Villa i.e. holding their head after going down due to an ankle tap, being allowed to play on after fouling one of our players etc. We are a year older and wiser, hopefully we don’t get fooled again.

  11. Upon the title above I can tell you that we will move heaven and earth to get there. And I would take that score line yes please.

  12. On the matter of the injury I would nog play CESC if there is the slightest chance of him getting worse with the injury. Let Diaby play and put Cesc on the bench is the thing I would do.. but I ain’t no AW.

  13. Good Read;
    I think the key this year and this game will be decided on no own goals (Clichy out) which was the result of the quick counter attacks up through the left through the pouty Young; and Vermaelen’s ability to bully a bully Ablonglahor. Sagna will also have to be spot on both defensively to control the pacy Young crosses and as well occupy Young on the Lefr with overlapping runs. Also, this year what’s different is we have the maturity and the composure up front. If we can be patient and efficient up front and Song can be massive in stuttering the first penetration Arsenal could walk-away 3-0. Of Late Nasri is really showing his flair and if Fabs is 50-50 maybe Diaby gets the nod coming off an impressive 1 goal 1 assist game. Arsenal are on a run right now and the only thing that could be dangerous for us is if Aston Villa have belief..That would only happen if we concede first without a proper response. I think though Villa is in for it and this is the time of the year where Villa sart to crack. I look forward to Arsene making sure our boys make them crack. 3-0 to me would be a sign that Villa have no business being in the top 4. Also, remember Gunners this i that cocky, arrogant team that came to Emirates and cleaned our clocks and then Gabby said Aston Villa were better down the stretch than Arsenal and would be in the top 4? Well prove it you punk!

  14. I would prefer the same team which played against Hull. That team can handle the physical nature of the Villa. And I’m hoping for a 3-1 score to The Arsenal…

  15. I do not expect Diaby to be left out of the team after his man of the match display against Hull. I expect Diaby to be pushed further forward to accommodate our other central midfielders.

    Diaby should drop back into midfield to add his usual power when we do not have the ball.

    If we can jump straight into our rhythm then I expect us to win, however Villa will be looking to stifle us and break at pace when the get the chance. Tommy V the rebel MC will have to be back at his best to deal with Milner and Young’s crossing.

  16. agbonlahor can be real dangerous if given the chance, and what you wrote is true… gallas and vermaleen can’t afford to sleep neither can almunia…

    i still think AW is gonna keep Diaby there with denilson and song… Cesc might pop in during half time and maybe walcott too… i have a feeling that vela might start… you never know…

  17. RoyVasey: he played 442 against a United side with a backline that he could afford to take advantage of, and who also had their most “battling” midfielder, Fletcher at right back. So the wasn’t worried about being outfought in the middle then. Here though, he knows our midfield will outclass theirs, and Carew is on a yellow so would potentially miss the more vital clash vs Liverpool. 5 in midfield would make tactical sense (to me) and allow him to rest Carew.

    Walter: spot on about Cesc. We shouldn’t risk him, especially with the mdifield already weakened in the coming games through Song’s departure. Hopefully he is passed fit, if not, Song, Diaby Denilson will have to do, or perhaps Nasri centrally and Walcott wide right?

    Mean Lean: you could well be right. That said, it’s horses for courses. I think Wenger has shown he prefers Denilson centrally to Diaby (with the other two slots taken as given to be Cesc and Song is the former is fit) though I may be surprised. Diaby further forward is an option, but I’m unsure given Nasri and Theo being fit. We shall see!

  18. I saw the Villa match at the Ems last season and it was a frustrating affair because of the “hold your head” tactic already mentioned, and their willingness to play 11 behind the ball, which eventually led to the breakaway for the second goal.

    I think we have matured this season, and even with all the injuries we are still there with a strong potential.

    It is interesting how the general mood on Diaby has changed from one of groans when his name comes up to a desire that he should play (I don’t mean here on this site, but generally among the more negative supporters).

    The great thing about Diaby is that you never know where he is going to be, alongside Song or running onto a pass to score as against Hull.

    They are a tricky team, Villa, because they will use any tactic – as we saw last season with their willingness to send a 2nd team to Russia and deliberately get knocked out of Europe, in order to come 4th, which of course they didn’t.

    But the great thing about this tactical genius is that it quite often screws up – as with Europe. We have to admit that their awful tactics at the Ems last season won them the game, and we need tactics to counter that.

    I think Arshavin is a brilliant tactician all on his own, hanging about looking disinterested, hardly able to pick himself up, and then suddenly exploding and scoring in a space no larger than the ball. It might be that which undoes Villa and all their dirty schemes.

    I am really hoping Walter and the Benelux supporters can make it ok to the game. I’ve not met Walter and am really looking forward to shaking his hand on behalf of all the readers of this site, to thank him in some small way for all the work he has put in to illuminate the games from a perspective we would otherwise never have had.

  19. 2 more points dropped by Chelsea with Drogba in the team. Now we can reduce the gap to 4points with a game in hand…

    Come on Gunners!!!

  20. As it will be early day tomorow going now to bed in the knowledge that everything is arranged for the trip to the Emirates.
    Well I think I could write an article with the events that happened since december 24 around 4pm when the news came trough untill this afternoon when everything finally was arranged for every fan.

    Well it will be the first time that we travel in this way so this also will make it intresting.

    Emirates here we come… see you Tony..looking forward to meet you

  21. What happened to Joe?

    He came to tell us we were paranoid……….

    I guess its not the 2 unmerited penalties and the chalked off B’ham goal that made him leave then……

  22. What a 27 minutes by Cesc. And I have to say that Traore is impressing me immensely. I think he may be better than Gibbs though I expect to be throttled for the suggetion… Eduardo needs his confidence back and he will be back to his deadly self. He is a half step too slow in his thinking

  23. Wonderful performance from the team. The first half was a controlled performance from the boys even though we could have been easily 1-0 or 2-0 up. In the second half, we did tore Villa apart. There was no answer from Villa as the first 55minutes took out the energy from Villa. I feel this was a part of Wenger’s tactics for this match. This was evident when Walcott came on and more when Diaby scored the third goal.

    Cesc showed again why he is one of the best players in the world!!! World Player of the year 2011??? Traoare showed great presence of mind with his cross ball for the second goal..

    Dudu needs his confidence back but the good thing is he still has his predatory senses and gets into great positions..

    Walter, The Arsenal really gave a worthy performance to the problems you had faced in the last few days.. Hope You and those who travelled with you enjoyed the performance!!!

  24. Splendid….

    Hope Walter and everyone who went had a great time.

    We are in it my friends, yes we are….

  25. Have to mention – though I only saw the second half- I thought the ref was great. He only missed a couple if small calls and did not have any big decisions to make but I like the job he did.

  26. Brilliant result. Steady first half, and then Cesc just took it to a whole new level. Theo took advantage of the space and played well when he came on. Lets hope Cesc is alright, assuming he hasn’t retorn it I’d be fairly confident he’ll be fit for United in a fortnight’s time. We can beat Pompey away and West Ham away without him, but it won’t be easy with Song gone too.

    Momoney: Traore looked very, very tidy today. he’s really stepped up from the Fa Cup game at Old Trafford in 07/08 season.

    I’ll take getting the result right, I think for anyone to predict that scoreline we needed one of Tony’s alternate reality predictions! Hope they got to the game ok and enjoyed the view from the stands!

  27. Agree with all the post match comments above. Just like to add that apart from the fact that the Villans appeared to have two strikers in their line up, their tactics were as negative, if not even more, as predicted above.

    Wow, what a performance by the team. Hope Fabregas isn’t out for too long.

  28. Injury to Cesc has staken the shine off a stunning victory. Like everyone else I imagine, I will be scouring the web for news of his scan tomorrow. Was AW right to play him even if he did win us the game?

  29. Great, great game! The performance was exactly what was required, but the score line was the icing on the cake. Everyone really contributed to the cause. Some better than others, but who is complaining anyways? Is Diaby coming to be what Wenger warned us about?

    Walter, you couldn’t have picked a right time to be at the Ems. I was really wishing you a pleasant trip, boy what a game it turned out to be indeed! Now we need a recap from you as soon as possible.

    I think the team start to gel a little bit and have a belief in themselves regardless of who is playing. Now, one game at a time.

  30. Tone, Arsene didn’t have the benefit of hindsight to know what would happen by playing Cesc. But Denilson was injured, we needed a little creative spark to make our dominance count and he did the business. The injury is unfortunate, but until we know the full-extent of it, let’s think positive and hope for the best.

  31. Walter and his family and friends made it to the game ok, and we all met up before and after for a really good chat. I really enjoyed it.

    And the game wasn’t bad either.

    Coming back to Northants in the car I listened to the Man U game, and then a bit of 606 on Radio 5. First caller talking about Arsenal said how dreadful we were in the first half, and that we need a new central defender, a new centre forward, and two new midfielders, one in particular to look after Cesc.

    Interesting eh?

  32. Tony, are these callers or the type really Arsenal’s fans? Sometimes you wonder what game they are watching. I’m really getting tired of the constant chatter of buying somebody, anybody, or something. They should just suck it up!

    I’m glad you met Walter and family, and enjoyed the encounter. Now, where is Walter?

  33. Tony, Glad to hear that You met Walter and his family & friends. The game wasnt bad?? It was awesome and we could have won 4-0 or more… The team was really up for it and the celebration of the first goal proved it. Gallas celebrating as soon as the ball went in and everyone running towards Cesc to celebrate with Eboue from the bench!!!

    Getty, the ‘mantra of buying’ wont go even if we won all the 4 trophies in a season. The media wont let that happen because they wont have news to fill the pages… We must get used to it!!!

    I just hope Denilson and Cesc arent seriously injured. Need them both for atleast the game against Bolton next wednesday because Song will be off for the ACN after the Portsmouth game and I feel Wenger is going to play some of the kids for the FA cup game with West Ham..

  34. At no point did I feel like we wouldn’t get 3 points! I was just disappointed we didn’t get on the score sheet immediately in the first couple. We had some good combo play and our back four looked dominant about 80% of the game. By the end I was happy with 2-0…but am glad I picked 3-0.

  35. I too wonder what game some of these people were watching. We dominated Villa from start to finish, all we lacked in the first half were the goals our dominance deserved. Cesc came on and gave the death blow. but Villa were reeling by then! The whole team played well and we defended from the front Villa barely got a look in.

  36. Just returned home safe after 1am, middle of the night after being up from 4.50 more then 20 hours ago.

    I would like to thank all the people who have wished us luck on our trip to the Emirates. We got there with only one hour delay but still well in time.
    It was the best game I have seen live at the Emirates and with a great win for our beloved Arsenal.

    I have had the great pleasure to meet Tony in person and I must say he really is a nice and friendly person and I really enjoyed every minute of our nice conversation.

    So, and I know one has to be carefull to use big words, but this really is one of the best days in my life as an Arsenal fan. So I would like to thank the whole team for their performance, the manager, the groundsman, the well…. every person that made this day to such a nice event (Even the steward that took my deodorant out of my bag…I know he just did his job …).

    I even think Tony will allow me to post this also in the other article where so many nice people wished us well. Thanks to all of you.

    Like we said to ourselfes after we could arrange a solution for all our members that went to the Emirates: THIS IS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A GOONER!

  37. Walter, glad that you had a wonderful day with our Arsenal.. It was really worth it!!!

  38. Glad to note that you and your mates had a great time ,Walter -and what a game it was.I felt everyone pulled their weight and Cesc’s introduction was
    inspirational and timely.What a cameo performance it was, and I only hope that the injury was not too further worsened.Diaby was impressive and firm in midfield although he still holds on to the ball too long.Lets hope they
    continue this good form and set us up for a solid finish come Easter.
    Happy New Year everyone.CHEERS !

Comments are closed.