After two consecutive wins Arsenal look to be back on track, but Aston Villa weren't in bad form themselves before a thrashing at Manchester City last weekend and Lee Dixon thinks the home side can get a point from Saturday's late kick-off
What a month it's been for Aston Villa. Three points from three games doesn't even begin to tell the story.
A 1-0 win at Sunderland was an admirable effort as Paul Lambert's men put in a professional performance to get past a struggling opponent, landing three precious points on the road.
That was followed by a gripping home defeat to Manchester United, tantalising the Villa Park faithful by opening up a 2-0 lead, succumbing only to three second-half goals, the last of which came in the 87th minute.
So far, so promising, but while luck wasn't on their side last weekend, a 5-0 defeat to Manchester City was a dramatic drop back down to earth.
The ESPN cameras are back at Villa Park and Lambert will be looking for a repeat of the Sunderland and United efforts, as those two games are genuine confidence boosters.
Arsenal arrive off the back of a very good week. It was a great result versus Spurs, even if they owe a debt of gratitude to Emmanuel Adebayor for what was a heavy victory over the old enemy. Montpelier were then dispatched with ease in midweek and so I imagine the Arsenal support will be confident. The Betfair punters are - Arsenal are clear favourites at 1.758/11 to take all three points.
However, let's not fool ourselves that everything is right in Arsenal's world. Before last week, Fulham scored three at the Emirates; Schalke came back from a two goal deficit; and United dominated in a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. That fledgling self-confidence could be fragile and I'm still not sure the team believes.
Despite a cumulative 12 goals being scored in these two's games last weekend, I don't think we'll see too many on Saturday evening and I fancy a tight game. The market disagrees with me, but I'm going for under 2.5 goals at 2.3411/8.
I'm also going for the draw at 4.03/1. Opta tell us that six of the 13 Premier League games between these two at Villa Park have ended in stalemates and, for me, that'll be the result on 90 minutes.
The Betfair's Trader's View: Alan Thompson
Another tough game for Villa on the back of having to play the two Manchester clubs. I am going to back Arsenal to win this 1-0, 2-0 and the 1-1 draw. Villa and Reading are the only sides not to score in the first 15 minutes this season, so let the Over 2.5 Goals market go for at least the first 15 minutes and then save your stake by backing Over 2.5 Goals. If you can get this cover then you only need an Arsenal goal for a risk free bet.
The Tactical View: Michael Cox
Despite two disappointing results against the Manchester clubs, I think Paul Lambert’s plan is slowly coming together. Christian Benteke’s hold-up play is good, while Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann provide pace from the flanks – they need more creativity from midfield, but a Norwich-style reactive performance might work well against Arsenal. I’ll back the draw at 4.0, with a view to laying it off midway through the game.