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Gnabry and Monreal critical to Arsenal’s chances of Villa revenge

| 13.01.2014

Over a Premier League weekend where seven results mirrored those which were recorded on the opening day of the season, Aston Villa’s odds of 6/1 to do the double over Arsenal look more appetising.

Arsenal are 1/2 to gain some revenge for that 3-1 Emirates reverse on the opening day, where they were caught cold on the counter attack on numerous occasions.

Arsene Wenger’s team have surely learnt their lesson from that defeat and who plays on the right of midfield may prove the biggest decision that Wenger makes for the Villa Park showdown.

Gabby Agbonlahor is Villa’s obvious outlet down the left flank, with his pace liable to cause problems, as they did when he won two penalties on the opening day.

With Theo Walcott out injured, the likes of Tomas Rosicky, Serge Gnabry and the fit again Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all vying for a start, while Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil have also started from the right at times this season.

Given that Ozil is far from a natural at tracking back, he would seemingly offer Bacary Sagna little midfield protection or a second body to limit Agbonlahor’s space, while Oxlade-Chamberlain is not match fit and so may be best used as a substitute.

If it is a straight battle between Gnabry and Rosicky, the latter brings greater experience to the table, but the former’s defensive contribution is better across the season so far and this should win him the nod.

Gnabry provides more tackles per game, makes more interceptions, concedes fewer fouls and has a higher pass success rate. He is 7/2 to score in the 90 minutes.

On the opposite flank, Kieran Gibbs is reportedly fit again to take back his left-back berth, but given that Arsenal have secured the three points in 18 of the 21 fixtures that Nacho Monreal has featured in since signing, he should retain his place.

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