Here are 12 things you should know about Aston Villa and Arsenal ahead of their Premier League game at Villa Park later this afternoon:
1. Aston Villa dropped in to the relegation zone last weekend after a 5-0 defeat against Manchester City which increased the pressure on Paul Lambert. Villa frustrated Manchester United for long periods, but once the deadlock was broken the defending champions ran riot.
2. That result may have been softened slightly for Villa’s Brett Holman as he was named Australian Footballer of the Year this week. That may give Holman the lift he needs to break his Premier League duck, with the striker yet to score despite 787 minutes of play and 12 shots at goal.
3. In fact, the striker has had more joy with defensive duties this season than in front of goal, winning 52% of 31 tackles attempted compared to getting just 33% of 12 shots on target.
4. Lambert has recently defended his policy of buying young players to invest in the club’s future. While fans may feel that experience is needed after a bad run of results, the performances of the likes of 23-year-old Matthew Lowton will give them heart. Lowton has won 84% of tackles so far this season, winning 31 and losing out on just six. That record is comparable with Everton defender Phil Jagielka, who has won 86% of tackles to boast the best tackling record in the league.
5. 21-year-old striker Christian Benteke was another summer signing for Lambert, and has proved a hit with fans. While Benteke has just two goals to his name this season, his shooting record suggests more will come, as he has had 28 shots at goal with an impressive 68% of those on target – a ratio comparable with the Premier League’s best strikers.
6. Arsenal fans got the result they’ve wanted all season with an incredible 5-2 victory over Spurs last weekend. Five different goal-scorers, including three from new summer signings, lifted spirits at The Emirates.
7. After struggling in front of goal initially, Olivier Giroud seems to have found his shooting boots at Arsenal. He now has four goals to his name, having had 36 attempts at goal with 19 on target, a ratio of 52.8%.
8. Fellow striker Lukas Podolski also has four goals now this season, coming from a more efficient 17 efforts at goal with 64.7% on target.
9. Santi Cazorla looks increasingly comfortable in Arsenal’s crucial midfield playmaker role. Cazorla also has four goals to his name with the attack-minded Spaniard having had 38 efforts at goal with 57.9% on target.
10. Cazorla also remains within touching distance of Yaya Toure in the rankings for the Premier League’s top passer, having completed 531 passes in the opponent’s half compared to Youre’s 536.
11. The future of Theo Walcott has been debated around The Emirates this season, and the winger added to his tally for the season with his third goal against Spurs last weekend.
12. Walcott has also laid on an impressive four assists for his team-mates, which means he has contributed to, or scored, a goal for Arsenal every 65 minutes and 42 seconds this season.
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