Arsenal vs Aston Villa match preview: Alexis Sanchez unlikely to start, new Gunners signing Gabriel in contention

A look at Sunday's Premier League clash at the Emirates

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The Independent Online

Arsenal manager Arsenal Wenger is likely to start new signing Gabriel Paulista against Aston Villa tomorrow afternoon - a side who have won three times at the Emirates Stadium since its opening in 2006.

The most famous of those raids, a shock 3-1 victory, arrived on the opening day of the 2013/14 season as a brace from Christian Benteke and Antonio Luna's breakaway goal gave the visitors all three points.

The landscape is much bleaker for Paul Lambert this season, however, with the Villians only scoring 11 goals all year.

To put that into some degree of context, Alexis Sanchez, who joined the Gunners for £35m from Barcelona in the summer, has hit the net 12 times all by himself.

Sanchez.jpg
Alexis Sanchez, who has proved a wonderful signing for Arsenal, may miss out

The pressure continues to mount on Lambert's shoulders, with relegation becoming an ever-likelier prospect, as his side sit in 15th place in the Premier League.

While their home form against Wenger's men continues to be a problem, the West Midlanders can take comfort from their exploits away from Villa Park.

The first ever competitive goal scored at the Gunners' new home was in fact a header from club legend Olof Mellberg header for Villa during a 1-1 draw back in August 2006.

With Wenger's side breathing down the necks of Manchester United in fourth, the Frenchman may be forced to leave out Sanchez who has a hamstring strain.

Gabriel-Paulista.jpg
New Gunners signing Gabriel Paulista

Gabriel, a £13.5m acquisition from Villarreal, is in contention to make his debut while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck are not yet fit enough to return.

Lambert will be hoping that new loan signing Scott Sinclair can add a touch of flair to his misfiring squad and has also been buoyed by the news that both Fabian Delph and Gabby Agbonlahor will return from respective Achilles and hamstring injuries.

Carles Gil, on the other hand, who scored a wonder goal against Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round, is likely to make his first league start.

KICK OFF: Sunday, Emirates Stadium, 13.30

PAST MEETINGS:

20th Sept 2014 - Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 3 (Ozil, Welbleck, Cissokho OG)

13th Jan 2014 - Aston Villa 1 (Benteke) Arsenal 2 (Wilshere, Giroud)

17th Aug 2013 - Arsenal 1 (Giroud) Aston Villa 3 (Benteke x2, Luna)

STATS:

The Gunners have only lost three times in the last 32 Premier League meetings between the two sides.

All of Aston Villa's victories, however, have come at the Emirates Stadium.

Danny Welbeck, who joined from Manchester United, has scored four goals in his last three starts against Villa.

Alexis Sanchez has scored one more goal this season than Aston Villa's entire tally of 11.

The West Midlanders have gone seven matches without a win, currently the worst run in the league.

ODDS:

Arsenal to win - 2/9

Draw - 5/1

Aston Villa to win - 12/1

TV: Super Sunday, Sky Sports 1; highlights on Match of the Day 2 on BBC One at 10.30pm.

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