Take a hint at Villa Park

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: January 13 2014, 19:48 GMT

Our Andy Schooler is happy to follow the trends for Monday's Premier League game between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park.

Olivier Giroud: Set to return to the Arsenal side
Olivier Giroud: Set to return to the Arsenal side

Villa have the second-worst home record in the top flight and are struggling for goals.

In contrast, Arsenal are flying high and have been in good form since their humbling at Manchester City.

Our man suggests you bet accordingly.

Aston Villa v Arsenal (2000 GMT)

Sometimes when looking for a bet it's easy to look beyond the obvious and talk yourself out of what looks a sure thing.

I don't intend to do that when it comes to Monday's Premier League clash.

Arsenal will go back to the top with a win against a side whose home form has long been considered a wretched disease.

Look just at this season and only Sunderland have picked up fewer points on their own turf, but frankly this is a long-term problem for Villa, one which didn't just arrive with Paul Lambert.

Goals have proved particularly hard to come by at Villa Park with just seven scored in 10 games.

It's also worth noting at this point that six of those 10 matches have seen Villa shut out by their opponents, with the best sides having a particularly strong record at the venue.

Liverpool, Everton, Spurs and Manchester United have all already visited Villa Park; each left with a victory without conceding.

You can see where I'm heading here and I see no reason why Arsenal cannot follow in their peers' footsteps.

Boasting the league's tightest defence, the Gunners have been particularly miserly at the back of late.

After shipping six at Manchester City last month, they knuckled down to ensure their title challenge did not evaporate all too quickly.

Since that trip to the Etihad, they've played five games and conceded just the one goal. It might be a bit of a cliché, but this is an Arsenal defence which is more reliable than many of those which have gone before it.

Arsene Wenger's side have already won 'to nil' at Newcastle, Cardiff and Crystal Palace this season and I'll take them at 7/4 to do so again in this one, especially given their impressive record in this fixture (see Opta stats below).

Olivier Giroud's expected return will certainly be a boost, while others such as Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs are also in contention.

Villa, in contrast, have doubts over defenders Ron Vlaar and Nathan Baker, but at least Gabby Agbonlahor - their most likely source of a goal given the drought of Christian Benteke - looks set to play.

The one worry with the bet would be Villa's 3-1 victory at the Emirates back on the opening day of the season.

I'm sure they will try to hit Arsenal on the break again - just as they did back in August - but their long-term home discomfort suggests it is much harder to do in practice.

Their 3-2 victory over Manchester City earlier in the season, achieved with those counter-attacking tactics, remains very much the exception rather than the rule.

I feel it will be a case Arsenal learning from that defeat, just as they did very quickly earlier in the season.

Frankly if I were a big-hitter I'd be quite prepared to plough into the 8/13 offered about the away win but, in search of a better price, the win to nil looks perfectly acceptable at 7/4.

Verdict: Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 2

Opta stats:

Arsenal are unbeaten in 14 Barclays Premier League trips to Villa Park, winning seven and drawing seven.

No team has scored the first goal in more Premier League games this season than Arsenal (15). Conversely, no side has scored the first goal on fewer occasions this season than Aston Villa (5).

The Villains have kept just two clean sheets in their last 21 home league matches.

  • The game is being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports.

  • Posted at 1515 GMT on 12/01/2014.