Welcome to a new feature on Arsenal.com - Talking Heads.

Before and after every first-team fixture our MatchDay Show team - and an Arsenal blogger - will have their say on the match.

Arsenal take on Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Sunday and our Talking Heads for this game were Dan Roebuck, Stephen Hughes and James McNicholas of Gunnerblog.

Read on for their post-match thoughts and recap what they said before the game.

Dan Roebuck - Arsenal Live

It's easy to describe Sunday as 'a game of two halves' but it's not quite as simple as that. Arsenal bossed possession before the break but didn't work hard enough without the ball and Villa took full advantage. Words were obviously said at half time and Arsenal stepped up the tempo, pressed much harder and started to open up Villa after the break. Both penalties were clear-cut and, although Walcott was lucky with his goal, Arsenal deserved what they got for raising their game. The FA Cup is eminently winnable this year with both Manchester clubs already out so a defeat on Sunday would have been a real missed opportunity. Hopefully the manner of the victory will have a knock-on effect at Bolton on Wednesday. 

It's time to forget about the recent Premier League disappointments and focus on a competition that Arsenal have as good a chance of winning as anybody. For me there is absolutely no reason why they cannot go all the way, with Manchester City already out and one of Liverpool or Manchester United set to follow. Onto the game, Arsenal may be boosted by the possible returns of Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin. Both have been missed one way or another, Arteta in particular in that midfield area. It's certainly been a case of not knowing what you have until it's gone with him. Either way, this is an excellent opportunity for Arsenal to get back on track and put themselves in the hat for the last 16. Villa are no pushovers, as they demonstrated perfectly in their own back yard in December, but I think Arsenal will have too much for them again.  

Stephen Hughes

What an incredible comeback! Arsenal were staring into the abyss at half time after an impressive Villa side exploited some gaps in the home side's defence and at that point it looked like four defeats in five games. But whatever was said at half time had the desired effect because the Arsenal players raised the tempo after the break. They had more pace, more purpose, they closed down well, put their foot in and basically dominated Villa. Oxlade-Chamberlain was very impressive again but my man of the match was Tomas Rosicky, who orchestrated it all from midfield. Onwards and upwards!

Regardless of the competition, Sunday is a massive game because Arsenal have to regain some of the confidence lost by virtue of those three league defeats. Arsène Wenger has used the FA Cup to rotate his squad in the past and he might be tempted to do so again with a Premier League trip to Bolton on the horizon, but I hope he plays his strongest available XI. I love the FA Cup and have some great memories of it and it's well within Arsenal's reach this year with Man City and either Liverpool or Man United certain to be out by the fifth round. All the same, Villa are tough in-form opposition and let's not forget they won at the Emirates last season.


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Well, my prediction of progress was right - in the end. At half time I was thinking what a wally I'd made of myself on Arsenal.com as the team found itself staring down the barrel of a premature FA Cup exit. However this turned out to be a game in which each half was entirely different from the other - if only there were a suitable football cliche to capture that fact. The likes of Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Rosicky and Van Persie showed the value of their experience and character with an impressive second-half display, and we finally got a couple of favourable decisions from the referee. Our most realistic hope of a trophy remains alive.

For Arsenal fans, the fourth round of the FA Cup will provide some respite from our poor league form. It also presents us with our most realistic path to a trophy this season. The jeopardy surrounding our qualification for next season's Champions League has put the six-year quest for silverware on the back-burner, but we're now just four wins from a major final. With that in mind, I expect us to field a strong team, although the forthcoming visit to Bolton in midweek might encourage Arsène Wenger to give Robin van Persie a rest - particularly if Thierry Henry is fit to start. Aston Villa will provide a stern test for an Arsenal side low on confidence, but I think the home draw will work in our favour and that we'll progress to the fifth round.

* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband Ltd.

Copyright 2017 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
30 Jan 2012