London, Feb 23: Arsenal have probably gone through their worst week in the entire season after home defeats to Blackburn and Bayern Munich in two different cup competitions. Arsene Wenger's side are heading into their eighth season without a trophy.
Wenger has the backing of Arsenal's board and has said he will not remain at the club until his contract expires in 2014. A top-four finish would ideal for the Gunners after a terrible season.
The Premier League game against strugglers Aston Villa is the perfect way to forget their miserable run. But next month is going as challenging as the last week. The Gunners face top-four rivals Tottenham and Everton before travelling to Bayern for the return leg.
Wenger needs to freshen things up especially in defence but the Gunners are likely to attack from the start which is not good news for Villa, who have won only one game in nine league matches.
Paul Lambert said Villa must be prepared for "12 cup finals" as they battle to stay in the Premier League. Their win against West Ham lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Arsenal will miss Bacary Sagna for this tie after suffering a knee injury against Bayern Munich. Karl Jenkinson will return to his position while Kieran Gibbs remains out but Nacho Monreal returns after being cup-tied.
Aston Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor and Karim El Ahmadi may start after missing the win over West Ham through illness. Charles N'Zogbia, who scored the winner last time out, recovers from a thigh injury.
* Arsenal have lost only two of their last 28 league meetings with Aston Villa.
* Aston Villa have conceded 27 goals in 10 league games.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Szczesny-Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal-Ramsey, Arteta-Walcott, Wilshere, Cazorla-Giroud.
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Guzan-Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker-Westwood, Delph-Bowery, N'Zogbia, Weimann-Benteke.