Arsenal vs Aston Villa: McLeish to enjoy another clash with Gunners
Arsenal will not have fond memories of facing Alex McLeish in domestic cup competitions and the manager can continue to frustrate the Gunners by ensuring Aston Villa gain at least a replay in the FA Cup fourth round.
Arsene Wenger’s team may not have lost at home in the FA Cup since 1997, a run of 32 games, but Aston Villa have tended to enjoy their trips to the Emirates in the past.
Villa have taken more points at the ground than any other visiting team in the Premier League since Arsenal switched grounds ahead of the 2005/06 season, losing just once.
Meanwhile, Arsenal will remember vividly losing last season’s Carling Cup final 2-1 to a McLeish-led Birmingham and may struggle to gain revenge for this result.
Looking at the double chance market, 5/4 could prove a big price that Aston Villa can avoid defeat again.
The FA Cup has also not been a bad competition for Villa in recent seasons as they have progressed to the last 16 in all of the last three seasons and are currently unbeaten in seven away games in all competitions.
It is 9/2 in the FA Cup odds that Aston Villa repeat their Emirates win from the Premier League last season and 11/4 that they secure a draw that will mean a replay at Villa Park.
The return of Mikel Arteta will be a big boost to Arsenal as he has quickly settled into the midfield since his summer arrival, while there is also the possibility that Thierry Henry will be passed fit.
For a home game, Arsenal’s odds of 8/13 to triumph look on the large side and they arguably have the stronger side, even when considering their numerous injuries.
When looking at the first goalscorer, it looks a straight shootout between the main two protagonists Robin Van Persie and Darren Bent.
Van Persie’s scoring record in the past 12 months has been well documented and he is 5/2 to break the deadlock.
Bent has scored six goals in his last eight Premier League fixtures with Arsenal and may prove better value at 7/1 to open the scoring.