Arsenal.com's Nick Teale uses the Bettorlogic Form Lab to analyse this Sunday's Premier League game
Aston Villa mark the halfway point in their season when they travel to Emirates Stadium on Sunday, and Martin O'Neill's side are currently on track for a top-four finish.
Villa are level on points with Arsenal but the Gunners do have a game in hand on this weekend's oppnents. Nonetheless, this game could be another marker of their progress in the Premier League.
And over the last 18 months they've done well when visiting 'Big Four' clubs. In fact, O'Neill's side are much improved in such fixtures.
Since the start of the 2004/05 season they've won just three of their 22 trips to 'Big Four' grounds. But those victories have all come within Villa's last four fixtures of this kind.
One of their most consistent performers over the last 18 months has been Steve Sidwell. Of the 22 games he has played since the start of last season, Villa have lost just two. Without him in the starting XI, they lose one in four of their fixtures.
And over the same period O'Neill's side have enjoyed a strong away record. In fact, over the last 18 months they've won half of their games on the road, compared with 46 per cent of home fixtures.
But since the start of the 2008/09 season, Arsenal have collected an average of 2.19 points per game from the 27 home fixtures they've had against clubs approaching the match in the Premier League's top six.
They've averaged 2.07 goals per such game and have lost just four of those fixtures. However one of those four defeats came when Villa visited Emirates Stadium last season.
The Gunners will have to avoid complacency against Villa, who have already defeated Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United this season.
Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 24 Dec 2009