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 Sunday so, to find out more, we also asked journalist Tim Abraham for his thoughts and analysis.

Stewart Robson

"Aston Villa’s centre backs, Richard Dunne and James Collins, have forged a good partnership over the last couple of years. Dunne in particular is a superb player when on form. He is much quicker than people realise, is powerful in the air, throws his body on the line and is a composed footballer. Collins has most of the same attributes but isn`t as quick as his defensive partner and not as precise with his passing. Villa may not be as pleasing on the eye as many Premier League teams but Arsenal supporters should not forget the tactical gameplan that Alex McLeish masterminded for Birmingham in last year’s Carling Cup final."

Scouting Report - Tactics

"I think McLeish will go for it. Villa are in that position in the table where they are not going to get relegated, but will be lucky to challenge for a Europa League spot, so I think he will put his strongest team out. Against Bristol Rovers in the third round, he put near enough the strongest available team out and I think we'll see something similar on Sunday.

"Charles N'Zogbia is definitely out with a heel injury. It is quite a big blow, as he has been in pretty good form recently. He had been getting past markers again and looking much more like the player who was at Wigan. But the arrival of Robbie Keane has precipitated a change of system slightly anyway. Keane is the main man for Villa now, and with him being a former Spurs player, I expect he will get quite a feisty reception at the Emirates.

"Darren Bent is a boyhood Arsenal fan and scored twice at the Emirates last season, so he will be extra motivated for this match. He had a few injury problems but he has overcome them now. Stephen Ireland has been in good form and he is someone who can influence things and create chances for Darren, and in the wide areas Villa have Marc Albrighton and Gabby Agbonlahor, so he is getting back to his early-season form.

"For Villa and Alex McLeish, Arsenal's win at Villa Park in December was a bit of a turning point. Even though Villa lost, everyone was really encouraged by their display that day. With the exception of Swansea at home, they have been good since then. Obviously winning 3-1 at Chelsea gave the players and the manager a lot of confidence, and McLeish is starting to win the doubters over. The arrival of Keane has given everyone a lift as well.

"The Emirates is not a place that will hold any fears for Villa, as they have a decent record there. They were hard done by at Villa Park, so I have a feeling they will sneak Sunday's match. I reckon they'll win 1-0, with Robbie Keane scoring the winner."

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    26 Jan 2012