Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson will give his pre-match view and you can get his post-match verdict in our Talking Tactics feature on Arsenal Player.

Arsène Wenger and his side face Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on Saturday so, to find out more, we also asked journalist Tim Abraham for his analysis.

Stewart Robson

"Villa are enduring a difficult season under Alex McLleish but their mood was uplifted by a late winner against Fulham in their last match. In Darren Bent's absence, Gabriel Agbonalahor played as the main striker and, as Arsenal have found to their cost before, he will make forceful runs behind the centre halves for balls played over the top. When Agbonlahor is at his hungriest he will make poor passes into good ones. His finishing is erratic but he has often enjoyed the physical battle against Wenger's men.

The two central midfield players Stiliyan Petrov and Chris Herd are both tenacious and hard-working. Petrov is a better passer of the ball while Herd is more aggressive. Their main job will be to stop Arsenal dominating the midfield area but they will need support from either their wide players or the second striker. Over the last few confrontations between these teams, the side that has won the midfield battle has dictated the the pace and style of the game."

Scouting Report - Tactics

"Since the Fulham game on March 10, when Villa ended a winless streak that had stretched back to November, there has been a boost in morale among the squad. It was a monkey they needed to get off their backs. Heading into this game, their is more of a feelgood factor than there was three or four games ago. They are probably safe from relegation now, so the feeling is that they are looking up rather than worrying about what is below them.

"Alex McLeish is likely to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation that he has utilised recently. That sees Marc Albrighton, Stephen Ireland and Charles N'Zogbia behind Gabby Agbonlahor, with Chris Herd and Stiliyan Petrov in front of the back four. There is a bit of a doubt over N'Zogbia though, as he picked up a knock on his knee in training, while Richard Dunne and Darren Bent are both definitely out and they are expected to miss the rest of the season. Ciaran Clark is about a week away with a knee ligament problem.

"Carlos Cuellar has been Villa's outstanding player recently. He didn't have much of a chance earlier in the season with Dunne and James Collins there, but he has blossomed in recent weeks. He has been taking the ball out of defence and his distribution and reading of the game is excellent. N'Zogbia has been pretty decent as well, he is one of the team's main creative outlets. He looks more like the player they signed from Wigan now.

"In the previous two games against Arsenal, Villa played them at a time when their form wasn't great and yet Villa were still pretty conservative. But they did go two goals up in the FA Cup game, so there is cause to think that if Villa have a go then they might spring a surprise. Everyone expects Arsenal to win, so McLeish may be a bit more positive than in a game when there is more pressure on him to keep it tight.

"In their last six visits to the Emirates, Villa have won two, drawn two and lost two, so I think I will go for a draw for this one, maybe 1-1."

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    23 Mar 2012