Aston Villa vs Arsenal: Bent absence will ensure away win

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Aston Villa have a dreadful home record against Arsenal in recent seasons and the expected continued absence of Darren Bent from their line-up should result in another defeat to Arsene Wenger’s men.

Bent missed Villa’s home defeat against Liverpool because of a thigh injury and it remains doubtful that he will have recovered in time to face Arsenal.

The England striker has six goals in his last eight games with Arsenal, including a brace at The Emirates last season, and if he fails a late fitness test it is difficult to see where any Villa goals will come from.

Gabby Agbonlahor does return from suspension to feature and his speed could cause problems for The Gunners’ defence.

Villa will need Agbonlahor on song if they are to improve upon a run of three defeats in four home games and it is 4/1 that they beat Arsenal.

However, Arsenal have not been beaten in their last 12 visits to Villa Park and will be keen to bounce back to winning ways following their away defeat to Manchester City.

It is 8/11 that Arsenal triumph and remain on the heels of the clubs currently occupying a spot in the top four.

Robin van Persie has only started two games with Aston Villa since signing for Arsenal in 2004 and will be keen to add to the single goal he has managed against the opposition.

This goal was last season and is one of the 33 that he has scored in the Premier League in 2011.

He is especially prolific away from home with 18 goals in his last 17 fixtures away from The Emirates and it is 3/1 that he opens the scoring at Villa Park.

However, it may pay to look for better value in this market, with Theo Walcott at 9/1 and Thomas Vermaelen at 20/1 both capable of striking first.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.