Aston Villa v Arsenal; Barclays Premier League; Villa Park; Wed Dec 21; KO:1945
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish will not be able to call upon Darren Bent, as the thigh strain that kept him out of the Liverpool defeat persists.
Chris Herd and Emile Heskey are also added to the injury list, with ankle and Achilles problems respectively. Centre-half James Collins is a doubt after picking up a knee knock on Sunday.
Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor missed the previous fixture through suspension, but is expected to come straight back into the team after serving his ban.
Arsene Wenger has a defensive injury nightmare as Kieran Gibbs – who was expected to return – has had a setback in his recovery from a hernia operation.
No other full-backs are available and Johan Djourou, who had been filling in at right back, is ruled out after picking up a groin injury in the loss to Manchester City on Sunday.
Alex Song will serve a one-match suspension after picking up his fifth booking against the league leaders – either Emmanuel Frimpong or Francis Coquelin are expected to fill in.
The Ox will be ready
Arsenal starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has said he is ready to fire when called upon.
Arsene Wenger has yet to start ‘The Ox’ in a Barclays Premier League fixture, limiting his starts to the Carling Cup and Champions League.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is being patient but believes he will be able to produce when the Emirates Stadium boss decides it is time to properly blood him in the league.
“I can't say [when I will play], I don't know, that's for the boss to say really. I'm just available if ever needed,” he told the club’s official website.
“There are a lot of games and maybe it is a time where players are going to be rested.
“It's a lot of work for the body physically so if I am required then I'm ready. I'm looking forward to getting an opportunity and I will try and take my chance.
“Everyone that comes into the team knows what's expected of them. At the end of the day we all train together at the same tempo and the same intensity.
“So I think whoever steps into the team knows what's expected of them from the fans, from the boss and from each other.
“You're playing for Arsenal, you have to be on top of your game at all times if possible.”
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