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 Villa Park in the Premier League on Wednesday so, to find out more, we also asked journalist Tim Abraham for his thoughts and analysis.

Stewart Robson

STEWART ROBSON
"Aston Villa have a mix of young and old in their team but they are struggling for consistency at present. Marc Albrighton and Charles N'Zogbia are both good runners with the ball while Stilian Petrov provides solidity in midfield.

"However, without the injured Darren Bent and the suspended Gabriel Agbonlahor up front, Villa looked toothless at the weekend against Manchester United. The latter is back now though, so they may regain some of that cutting edge."

Scouting Report - Tactics

TIM ABRAHAM, EXPRESS AND STAR
"McLeish tends to alternate during the game between a 4-4-2 and a 4-2-3-1. Normally you'd have Bent right at the apex of that but it sounds like he's out again. I imagine it will be Agbonlahor up top with three players behind him - normally N'Zogbia, Albrighton and Heskey. But the latter is also doubtful for tomorrow. You may see somebody like Barry Bannan or Stephen Ireland come in there.

"He also likes to have two holding midfielders - usually Chris Herd and Stilian Petrov - but Herd is out so it is a matter of who is going to come in alongside Petrov. I'd expect maybe Delph or Ciaran Clark, who scored twice against Arsenal last year, to come in.

"It's not been a fantastic start for N'Zogbia in truth. Obviously there was a lot of expectations on his shoulders to fill the void left by Ashley Young and Stewart Downing but he's not really hit the heights yet. There have been flashes in the last two or three games where he has started to justify the price tag but he's not quite been the player we all thought he would be when he initially signed. He's not really had a full run of games though, and he has been moved around quite a bit.

"I think when Villa have played the big teams this season, there's always been the feeling about the games that they're more about damage limitation. When they've played the so-called lesser teams it's been a bit more positive and they've gone to try and win the game. They've had a tough run of games recently so the form guide probably doesn't tell the whole story.

"I think McLeish had the reputation [for being more direct] at Birmingham certainly, but he's tried to play football a little bit at Villa. It's not been the greatest football in the world but it's not been as bad as some have made it out to be. At Rangers he was renowned for his attacking football, and to be honest, I think it's all about what players you have at your disposal. He had Zigic at Birmingham, for example. I'd say the football has been more functional rather than long ball myself.

"The one thing they do have is Gabriel Agbonlahor. On his day he can terrorise any defence in the world, it's just whether he's on that day against Arsenal. He's such a maverick kind of player - I remember John Terry saying a few years ago that he absolutely hated playing against him. He's got that raw pace but he's got that unpredictable element as well. I'm not even sure he knows what he's going to do sometimes. He will be the player most likely to be the difference between Villa getting a result and not.

"I don't like backing against the home team but I've got a feeling that Arsenal will win 3-1. It would be nice for Villa, after a couple of goalless games, to hit the score sheet but I can't see past an Arsenal victory."

    Copyright 2014 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 21 Dec 2011