Arsenal take on Aston Villa at the Emirates, looking to close the gap on Chelsea and Tottenham in the race for Champions League football next season. Villa, meanwhile, are fighting to avoid relegation from the Premier League, and have only a one-point buffer over Reading in 18th. The reverse fixture at Villa Park ended in a goalless draw.

Per Mertesacker (L) and Lukas Podolski

Where to Watch

Kick-off is set for 3pm GMT. Live coverage is on Arsenal Player (for registered members). Highlights are on Match of the Day, on BBC One and BBC One HD, from 10.20pm GMT.


This has been a week to forget for manager Arsene Wenger, who saw his side crash out of the FA Cup to Championship side Blackburn Rovers and follow that with a 1-3 defeat, in the first leg of a Champions League knockout round, to Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

The two results mean the Gunners are on the brink of recording an eighth consecutive season without a trophy... unless they miraculously overhaul a 21-point gap to Premier League leaders Manchester United or overturn the deficit to Bayern at the Allianz Arena, in mid-March.

The defeat to Bayern was the first time Arsenal have lost back-to-back home games this season and three consecutive defeats will be a disastrous way to prepare for the key north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, in early March.

In the league, Arsenal have been reasonably good at home, winning seven of 13 games. They've scored more goals (33) at home than any other club, with the exception of United (34). But, apart from Swansea City and Villa (19), have also conceded the most (18) of any side not in the relegation zone.

All this adds up to the promise of goals at the Emirates on Saturday.

Christian Benteke

Unfortunately for Lambert, his side may struggle to be the ones scoring. Villa have lost six of 13 games on the road, scoring only 14 times. Worse still, they've shipped 31 goals... by far the worst in the league. To be fair to the Villans, eight of those came in one game - against Chelsea.

The good news is they come into this game on the back of a 2-1 win against West Ham United and have won two and drawn one of the last five games in all competitions. That half-decent run means they remain outside the relegation zone but both Reading and Wigan Athletic are close behind. The trip to the Madejski to play the Royals, on 9 March, is likely to be a massive game for both sides, as will the trip to the DW Stadium, which, dramatically, is on the last day of the season.

Team Form


  • Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): L L W W D
  • Last Match: Arsenal 1 - 3 Bayern Munich

Aston Villa

  • Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W D L L W
  • Last Match: Aston Villa 2 - 1 West Ham United
Arsene Wenger

Team News

Arsenal are without French right-back Bacary Sagna (knee), who was injured against Bayern. He will be replaced by young Carl Jenkinson, who returns from suspension. January signing Nacho Monreal will re-take left-back; he sat out the Champions League fixture as he was cup-tied with Malaga. France striker Olivier Giroud may be recalled for this game.

Probable Line-Up: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Monreal; Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla; Podolski, Giroud, Walcott

Villa welcome ex-Liverpool player Charles N'Zogbia (knee) to the squad but the midfielder is likely to only start from the bench. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Karim El Ahmadi are also expected to be back, after missing the game against West Ham. However, Richard Dunne (groin and hip) and Chris Herd (foot) are out, while Mark Albrighton (foot) and Gary Gardner (knee) are long-term absentees for the Villans.

Probable Line-Up: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett; Delph, Westwood, Ireland; Weimann, Agbonlahor; Benteke