Who will win?
This will be the second meeting between Villa and Arsenal, and it's safe to say a lot has happened since they first met.
It was in each team's league opener that Aston Villa went into Emirates Stadium and embarrassed Arsenal, 3-1. At that point, it looked like the Gunners were in for a rough season.
Fast forward a few months to see that Arsenal have only failed to win five of their games since that setback. Meanwhile, Aston Villa have won just five times in league action since that meeting.
Now we can see if Aston Villa have Arsenal's number, or if they simply caught the Gunners on the right day. Of course, Arsenal made the big transfer splash fans were craving since that match as they added Mesut Ozil. So it's going to be a different Arsenal team that Villa faces.
My guess is Aston Villa will see a much improved Arsenal team from the last match.
When: Monday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET
Where: Villa Park, Trinity Road, Birmingham
TV: NBCSN/Sky Sports 1
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Key Storyline: Will Arsenal show their improvement?
As I mentioned, Aston Villa trounced Arsenal in the opener, but a lot has happened since then. For starters, Arsenal brought in the skills of Ozil, and the improvements go far beyond that.
Even Aston Villa seem to recognize that their chances of pulling off a second big win against the Gunners are diminished considering the improvements that the Gunners have made.
As provided by Mirror's James Nursey, here is what Villa manager Paul Lambert had to say on the upcoming contest:
The opportunity's there to go and win a second game against them. But they are in a different place. They can go and spend 40-odd million on somebody, so there's that magnitude—and he's given them a major, incredible lift.
They've probably got one of the best players going in Ozil. He's a top, top player and one of the best No 10s around. I think he's enhanced it with the way he plays the game. But they've got lads playing probably on top of their game, not just one or two but a handful there.
The astute Lambert hits the nail on the head. There is no doubt that Ozil's elite playmaking skills have given Arsenal another dimension. There is also no doubt that the improved play of players like Theo Walcott (now injured) and Olivier Giroud has been instrumental to Arsenal's run to the top of the table.
Jack Wilshere also knows this team has learned how to handle the rigors of the campaign:
Prediction: Arsenal 3, Aston Villa 0
Despite the fact that Arsenal have gone on to have great success since their loss to Aston Villa, I doubt anyone in the Gunners has forgotten the sting of that first loss.
This will lead to a determined and focused Arsenal team looking to make amends for the clunker in the opener. Aston Villa do not have the talent to hang with an in-form Arsenal squad.