I was wrong to doubt Joel Campbell

By Daniel Cowan
In Match Preview
Dec 13th, 2015

Match Preview – Aston Villa vs Arsenal – Premier League – 13.12.15


After successful completion of the Athenian Job the Arsenal players turn their attention to grabbing top spot in the Premier League, if only for a day.

The 3-0 win over Olympiakos was Arsenal’s second December win to help wash away the bitter after taste of a poor November in which the Gunners dropped 7 points. November is notoriously a bad month for Arsenal and earlier this season many predicted it would prove costly for Wenger’s men but so far no team has peeled away from the pack to dominate the race. So, despite the poor November returns Arsenal have edged ahead of their main rivals and depending on the Leicester/Chelsea result tomorrow could go top and remain there ahead of the showdown with Man City on Monday week.

Arsenal’s attentions now turn to a potential banana skin in Aston Villa. The Midlands side have been woeful for months now and it seems as though there is no sign of that letting up any time soon. Therein lies the possible problem for Arsenal. The Gunners are often accused of complacency because they seem to nonchalantly stroll on to the pitch against certain opposition and think they can win just by being there. It didn’t work in our first two Champions League matches which led to Wednesday’s performance being a necessity. Hopefully the lesson has been learned.

Former Gunner Remi Garde has taken over the managerial reins at Villa and given time I completely back him to turn them around which is why Arsenal must be wary of them. Each player knows he has to impress the new manager, especially with Janaury round the corner, and what better way to keep your place than to play out of your skin against one of the best teams in the league?

That being said I think a middling Arsenal steamrollers this Villa side and if Arsenal decide to turn it on it could be a massacre.

Özil reportedly missed training again but fingers crossed that was just another precautionary move. Walcott is getting back to fitness and he’d probably enjoy facing the team he pulled hither and thither in the FA Cup final. Ramsey seems to be enjoying playing in the middle again and he’s certainly looking like more of a goal threat. When you’re wrong about a player you are wrong and it seems I was wrong about Campbell. He has been fantastic in recent weeks and is growing into his game.

I’ve been seriously impressed with Campbell and it seems all he needed was a run of games to find his feet. I’m certainly not immune to dismissing players based on their sporadic appearances if they aren’t a “favourite”. I gave up on Joel based on his sub appearances when a player in a similar predicament, Oxlade-Chamberlain, got away with some harsh criticism tempered with platitudinous “it’s because I know he has talent” comments. I’ve long said that Ox’s problem is he tries too hard to impress and isn’t doing the simple things properly. Campbell is. He has the basics down and has been building on it. I should have given him the same considerations I did Ox. Hopefully Alex now looks at Joel and realises where he has been going wrong when he gets the odd chance.

Today could be a chance for him to get some minutes and I pray he doesn’t waste them attempting to make himself undroppable.

Arsenal from; Cech, Macey, Chambers, Bellerin, Debuchy, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Monreal, Flamini, Reine-Adelaide, Özil, Campbell, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Iwobi, Walcott.

Predicted Line-up

Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Özil, Campbell, Walcott, Giroud

I expect to see substitute appearances from Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chambers and Gibbs.

Match Quote

“He shows slowly, game by game, that he has the talent to do it. If you look at his numbers since he played, you look at the number of goals he has scored and the number of assists he has given, you can say it is much better than people think it is.”  – Arsène Wenger

Last 3 Meetings

  • Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa (30.05.2015)
  • Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa (01.02.2015)
  • Aston Villa 0-3 Arsenal (20.09.2014)

Form Guide

Arsenal Last 5

Villa Last 5

Opposition watch

Villa has been in freefall this season and haven’t won a match in any competition since they beat local rivals Birmingham in the League Cup in September. They haven’t won in the league since the opening day when they beat Bournemouth and have since only picked up three more points all from draws. However, they did hold Man City to a 0-0 draw last month so they do have a performance or two in them. That said, in the same month they conceded 10 goals in 3 matches to Tottenham, Everton and Watford. Overall they look deflated, beaten and out of ideas.

New manager Remi Garde could change that but not overnight. They’ll need a cornerstone victory to build from and Arsenal cannot afford the ignominy of it being them. If Arsenal play to their potential, however, they will dispatch of this sorry Villa side with ease.


  • This is their first meeting since last season’s FA Cup final, which Arsenal won 4-0.
  • Petr Cech has kept 168 clean sheets in the Premier League, one today will level him with ex-Villa keeper David James.
  • Arsenal scored 12 goals and conceded none in three games against Villa in 2014-15.
  • Aston Villa have not beaten Arsenal at Villa Park in 16 league matches since a 3-2 victory in 1998.
  • Arsenal have won a league-high 72 points in 2015.
  • Aston Villa have gone a club record 14 league games without a win (D3, L11).
  • The Gunners have scored in nine successive league matches.
  • Villa are on an eight-match winless streak at home.
  • Arsenal have lost just two of their last 14 away league games (W10, D2).
  • Villa (23) could match or beat Ipswich’s record (26) for most Premier League defeats in a calendar year.
  • Olivier Giroud has scored in each of his last four appearances against Aston Villa in all competitions.
  • Giroud is one goal away from his 50th in the Premier League.


3-0 to Arsenal.

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About "" - 509 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

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