Arsenal v Aston Villa: Match preview

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Arsenal v Aston Villa; Premier League; Emirates Stadium; Saturday 24 March, 15:00 KO

Team News

Arsene Wenger has no new injury concerns following their midweek exertions, and could be boosted by the return of midfielder Abou Diaby, who played 60 minutes for Arsenal reserves.

Francis Coquelin (hamstring) is close to a first-team return, but long-term absentees Per Mertesacker (ankle) and Jack Wilshere (ankle) are ruled out.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa have a number of injury problems with Darren Bent (ankle), Richard Dunne (collarbone) and Fabian Delph (ankle) joining Ciaran Clark on the treatment table.

Sagna cites 'massive' Villa game

Bacary Sagna feels Arsenal have a great chance to extend their Premier League lead on both Tottenham and Chelsea, when they welcome Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

The 29-year-old defender has emphasised the importance of maintaining the club's current momentum having won six consecutive games in the league following Wednesday's 1-0 victory over Everton.

Three points earned at Goodison Park lifted the Gunners to third place in the table for the first time this season, as Arsene Wenger's side usurped north London rivals Spurs, who could only manage a 1-1 draw with Stoke City at White Hart Lane.

"The Villa game is massive," Sagna told Arsenal Player. "Tottenham are just one point behind us, but we were 12 points behind them in February. We are here now and we deserve to be here, but we have to give even more.

"We can't think about 'what if?' - we just have to give our best and look after our team, not [concentrate] on the others.

"Villa have very good players, like Charles N'Zogbia and Gabriel Agbonlahor. We know they can bring us problems. But we must focus on ourselves and make sure we play."

Alex McLeish's side meanwhile, have been struggling for form of late, having won only once in their last six outings. But, Villa have a good record at the Emirates Stadium having taken more points than any other side, winning two and losing just one of their last five visits to Arsenal.

"There are no easy games," Sagna continued. "Even if everyone thought we would win at Everton, we were struggling. It was a hard game physically and mentally as well because it is never easy to win away.

"We can't anticipate the games. When Villa came to us in the FA Cup they were 2-0 up, so it is a warning. We know they have good players, and can play good football. But we are at home and we need to impose ourselves."

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