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Preview: Aston Villa v Arsenal
26 Jan 2010 - 12:49:30
Aston Villa meet Premier League high-flyers Arsenal at Villa Park on Wednesday evening as they look to continue their own assault at the top end of the table.
With both outfits going through mixed fortunes in the FA Cup at the weekend, it is back to domestic league action this week.
Villa finally saw off League One outfit Brighton & Hove Albion to make the fifth round, but Arsene Wenger's Gunners suffered a disappointing defeat at Stoke City.
Sol Campbell made a return to the Arsenal backline and looked slightly off the pace in the 3-1 loss at Stoke although he will be hoping for more first-team minutes to return to form.
With injuries continuing to bother Wenger, the clash at Villa looks that bit more difficult. Defenders Bacary Sagna (shoulder), Kieran Gibbs (metatarsal) and Johan Djourou (knee) all remain sidelined.
Samir Nasri (hamstring), Fran Merida (ankle), Abou Diaby (calf), Robin Van Persie (ankle) and Nicklas Bendtner (hernia) are also in the treatment room at Emirates Stadium.
Villa have five injury doubts ahead of the midweek fixture with Emile Heskey, Nigel Reo-Coker and Wilfred Bouma (all ankle), John Carew (knee) and Richard Dunne (hamstring) all facing a race against time to feature for Martin O'Neill's impressive side.
The Midlands side have failed to win in their last three league fixtures and this is a run that needs to be reversed if they are to figure in the business end of the table.
They sit in seventh place but they are just two points off Tottenham Hotspur who occupy fourth position.
Arsenal's recent Premier League form has been superb. Since their demoralising 3-0 home loss to London rivals Chelsea on November 29, they have won seven and drawn two of their last nine matches.
This run has propelled them right back into contention with Manchester United and Chelsea sweating over their imperious form.