How Aston Villa Will Line Up Against Arsenal

Joshua HaywardContributor IJanuary 12, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17:  Theo Walcott of Arsenal avoids Antonio Luna of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Arsenal will look to return to the top of the Premier League table when they travel to Birmingham to face Aston Villa on Monday.

The Gunners go into the match as hot favourites, but will be wary of a Villa side who inflicted a surprise 3-1 defeat on the opening day of the season at the Emirates Stadium.

Villa's campaign has stuttered, whilst the Gunners have maintained a high level of performance and have sat atop the pile for most of the season. And Villa's shocking home form will give Arsene Wenger's men hope of leaving the Midlands with all three points.

Here is how Villa will line up against Arsenal:


GK. Brad Guzan

Brad Guzan is the first name on Villa's team sheet each and every week, and, with Jed Steer the Claret and Blues' only other option, will keep his place in the side against Arsenal.


RB. Matt Lowton

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Matthew Lowton of Aston Villa in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Swansea City at Villa Park on December 28, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Matt Lowton had a difficult start to the season and was dropped after a disastrous performance against Newcastle on September 14. He was replaced by Dutchman Leandro Bacuna, who impressed during his time filling in at full-back. However, a number of injuries saw Bacuna moved into the midfield with Lowton returning to play at right-back. The youngster took his chance and has looked more like the man Villa fans were used to seeing last season.


CB. Ron Vlaar

Ron Vlaar faces a late fitness test ahead of the clash with the Gunners, but is expected to be fit. If that is the case then the Dutchman will walk straight back into the heart of the Villa defence and will captain the team at Villa Park.


CB. Ciaran Clark

Nathan Baker, who has featured in Villa's back four in recent weeks, also faces a fitness test, but, regardless of whether he passes that, will be replaced by Ciaran Clark who returns from injury. Clark's experience will be required as the free-flowing Gunners travel to Birmingham.


LB. Antonio Luna

HULL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05:  Antonio Luna of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Aston Villa at KC Stadium on October 5, 2013 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Antonio Luna has been one of Villa's stand-out players this season and will continue at left full-back, where he has shone. The Spaniard played his first-ever Premier League fixture against Arsenal on the opening day of the season and capped an excellent performance with a goal. Luna will be looking to emulate his finest performance in a Villa shirt ahead of the return fixture.


CM. Ashley Westwood

Despite his young age, Ashley Westwood has an old head on his shoulders and plays a vital role in the Villa midfield. Westwood was, without a doubt, one of Villa's stars during the near-fatal 2012/13 campaign and has continued in that fine form this year. The former Middlesbrough man will be in charge of keeping tabs on Arsenal's Jack Wilshere—a contest which could shape the game.


CDM. Fabian Delph

Fabian Delph will play in a deep-lying role against the Gunners and will be instructed to keep an eye on Mesut Ozil. Delph is the epitome of a box-to-box midfielder, but will more than likely have to utilise his defensive capabilities in order to help stifle Arsenal's attacking threat.


CM. Leandro Bacuna

Bacuna has spent much of the season covering at right-back, but has, in recent weeks, been pushed further up field and is being given the chance to play in his more familiar midfield role. Pacy, with good feet and an eye for a pass, Bacuna will pose a threat when Villa attack, but, due to his defensive prowess, will also be able to help when the hosts are on the back foot.


RW. Marc Albrighton

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  Marc Albrighton of Aston Villa in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park on December 15, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty I
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Andreas Weimann, who has not enjoyed one of his best seasons in a Villa shirt, is expected to be dropped in favour of Marc Albrighton. The young winger saw his chances in a Villa shirt decline at the start of the season and was subsequently sent out on loan to Championship side Wigan. Albrighton impressed during his brief stint with the Latics and has been rewarded with a chance back in Paul Lambert's side—an opportunity he has grabbed with both hands.


LW. Gabriel Agbonlahor

Gabriel Agbonlahor gave the Arsenal defenders hell on the opening day of the season, winning two penalties, forcing Laurent Koscielny into a number of rash challenges that saw the Frenchman sent off. Agbonlahor's pace is a real asset to Villa and his desire to work hard for his boyhood club never goes unnoticed. The battle between Agbonlahor and Arsenal's two full-backs will be an interesting one, and could go a long way to helping decide the contest.


ST. Christian Benteke

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28:  Aston Villa player Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring the second goal during the Capital One Cup second round match between Aston Villa and Rotherham at Villa Park on August 28, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Phot
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Christian Benteke has gone 12 games in all competitions without a goal—his longest drought since he signed for Villa in August 2012. Benteke suffered an injury back in September and was ruled out for a number of games. The Belgian hasn't looked his usual self since his return and is lacking confidence in front of goal—two glaring misses against Sheffield United in the FA Cup last weekend proof of that. However, the Belgian will look to get back to scoring ways against Arsenal on Monday.