Predicted Arsenal XI to play Aston Villa - Walcott injury to create Gnabry chance?

Match to be played on Monday 13th January 2014 at 20:00. Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham.

The big question going into Arsenal’s game against Aston Villa is how Arsene Wenger is going to fill the void created by the long term knee injury to Theo Walcott.

It’s important Arsenal don’t let themselves be too affected by the news because they have to focus for a very difficult match, where three points will keep them right in the title race.

Here’s the side Wenger could go with for the trip to Villa Park.

GK – Wojciech Szczesny

The rumour mill has been going mad with suggestions that Arsenal could be going after another goalkeeper this month but Wojciech Szczesny has been superb, arguably the best goalkeeper in the division.

RB – Bacary Sagna

Sagna should slot in on the right hand side of defence. Arsenal know exactly what they are going to get from him but his role in terms of supporting the midfield and attack is more important with Walcott’s absence.

CB – Per Mertesacker

Mertesacker will have to be very careful in this game because Villa have numerous players who can hurt him with their pace. However, he’s dealt with plenty of sides this season, which use fast attacking players.

CB – Laurent Koscielny

The Frenchman has arguably been Arsenal’s best defender so far this season. He’s got the pace to compensate for Mertesacker and he’s been aggressive in the face of physical challenges.

LB – Nacho Monreal

There’s another chance for Monreal to impress at left-back with Kieran Gibbs out of action with a calf problem. Monreal needs to work hard defensively because he will be targeted.

RM – Serge Gnabry

This is the problem position for Wenger. Gnabry is likely to get the nod over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is only just returning from injury. Gnabry does have the pace and skill to cause some damage down the right.

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DM – Mathieu Flamini

Flamini is likely to be roaming the gap between the Arsenal defence and midfield, looking for players making runs who could hurt Arsenal. He’s the man who will get stuck in and try to break up Villa’s fluency.

CM – Jack Wilshere

Wilshere has more than enough ability to control the pace of the game in midfield. This is a real opportunity for him to grab the Arsenal midfield by the scruff of the neck, making himself indispensible to the team.

AM – Mesut Ozil

Ozil will be fresh and he should start at the top of midfield. Arsenal will try and get the ball to him as quickly as possible and his job will be to feed other attacking players and utilise any space.

LM – Santi Cazorla

Cazorla has played on the left of midfield before this season. He won’t always stay there and will press inside centrally when Monreal gets forward and supplies width on that side.

ST – Lukas Podolski

With Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner injured as well as Olivier Giroud recovering from illness, there’s a chance for the German to lead the attack. He’s cried out before to play as a central striker and this is his chance.

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