Arsene Wenger counting on Olivier Giroud. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/Ian Kington/AFP
Frenchman Olivier Giroud will spearhead Arsenal’s attack at Aston Villa after missing the last two matches through injury. The centre-forward is back after suffering a nasty gash last month, when Newcastle defender Mike Williamson landed on his foot. The Londoners’ won that match 1-0 .
In Giroud’s absence, Arsenal also beat Cardiff City 2-0 at home. Previously, they’d posted a 3-1 victory over West Ham in a four-match unbeaten run which netted ten points in nine days ending on New Year’s Day. With Theo Walcott out for the season and Nicklas Bendtner still at least another three weeks away, coach Arsene Wenger believes 27-year-old Giroud can shoulder the weight of expectation of Gunnners’ fans up front, if the club doesn’t dip into the transfer market.
Wenger is banking on Giroud, who has scored eight goals this season, to help avenge Arsenal’s disastrous opening day defeat when humbled 3-1 at the Emirates by Aston Villa in mid-August. The Gunners’ have an excellent record at Villa Park – unbeaten there in 15 years and 14 outings and the Lions haven’t scored in five of their last seven at home. At least Aston Villa takes positive form into the match – its 1-0 win over Sunderland ended a five-match winless run.
No team has scored the first goal in more EPL games this season than Arsenal (15) , while Villa are at the opposite end of the spectrum having only found the net first on five occasions.
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