LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Robin van Persie of Arsenal looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Here is a link to a review of the last match these two sides faced off. Now ask yourself, do you see such an outcome this time around? Do you see it as being even plausible? Can you envision any scenario in which Aston Villa manages to take three points from this game? I didn't think so.
Darren Bent is out. Chris Herd, Emile Heskey and James Collins are likely out as well, and though none of those injuries are likely to cause a great deal of consternation amongst Villa fans with as thin as this squad is at the moment it's tough to think of any injury as inconsequential. But really, it's not the Villa side of things that are cause for concern; it's the Arsenal side. In short, Arsenal is good. Really good, in fact, depending on your perspective. They're certainly not United, City, Chelsea or Spurs in terms of their all-around quality, but the Gunners shortcomings are in defense. Who wants to take a bet on the odds of that mattering in the least.
Without Bent, Villa lose the poaching ability in front of goal that makes every long-distance strike and desperate through ball a legitimate danger. As good as Gabby has been this season he doesn't offer that same sort of threat; Villa will actually have to create something in order to take anything from this match, and we all know that's not likely to happen.
And then there's Arsenal. They're a lot better than Villa, even with the injuries and likely second-team appearances. Let's be honest; would you take Emmanuel Frimpong in central midfield right now? I would. And he's starting tomorrow (most likely) largely because of an internet meme. (This may or may not be true.) They also have Robin Van Persie, who may be the best striker in England right now, and better players at every other outfield position and blah blah blah. Arsenal is good, Villa is not that good, any real chance of Villa throwing caution to the wind and and making a run at things is out the window, because Alex McLeish hasn't been outside in 14 years because he sure doesn't like the look of those teenagers.
In reality, our only hope on anything from this game is a super-human effort from Gabby and/or Barry Bannan. Outside chance at Nathan Delfouneso flipping out. Otherwise? Odds are this is going to suck. I do hope that's not too negative for you. That would just be a tragic end.