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 Premier League on Wednesday and our Talking Heads for this game were Dan Roebuck, Adrian Clarke and David Faber aka Goonerholic.

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

Dan Roebuck - Arsenal Live

I suggested before the game that Yossi Benayoun might get a chance and - although it came late - he certainly made it count. Arsenal don't score many goals from corners so that in itself was a surprise, let alone the identity of the diminutive scorer! Three vital points then in a week that Chelsea or Tottenham - and possibly both - will drop points by virtue of playing each other. I was impressed by Villa, who were much improved from their last game against Liverpool, and Gabriel Agbonlahor gave Mertesacker and Koscielny some difficult moments. But once again this new-look Arsenal side showed its resilience and that bodes well for the weeks and months to come.

Both of these teams lost on Sunday but Arsenal will be far happier with their performance. They could have taken at least one point from the Etihad Stadium but Aston Villa never looked like pegging back Liverpool after conceding two early goals. Sure, they missed the injured Darren Bent and the suspended Gabriel Agbonlahor but there was a general lack of verve from Alex McLeish's team. If Arsenal can repeat their weekend performance they should take all three points and it will be interesting to see whether Arsène Wenger rotates his squad. I wouldn't be surprised to see Robin van Persie rested for one of the forthcoming home games but I think he'll start at Villa Park. However we might see Andrey Arshavin or even Yossi Benayoun get a chance in the wide positions, while Emmanuel Frimpong could step in for the suspended Alex Song.

Adrian Clarke

This wasn’t an Arsenal performance that will live long in the memory but the side grabbed all three points and that’s what matters most. To their credit Villa produced a spirited display but they faced a Gunners side that appeared tired and lacking much of the spark they showed at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Star performer for me was Laurent Koscielny but the impact made by subs Tomas Rosicky and Yossi Benayoun shouldn’t be overlooked either as they brought fresh energy and creativity late on in the second half. This wasn’t Arsenal at their best but the fact that they still secured a victory speaks volumes for their determination and will to win. Roll on Wolves.

If Arsenal perform as well as they did against Manchester City on Sunday they won’t have any problems picking up three points from the trip to Villa Park. The expected return of Bent and Agbonlahor will provide Villa with more of an attacking threat than they had against Liverpool last time out but this is a match I still expect the Gunners to dictate and dominate. Defensively we’ll have to reshuffle once again which isn’t ideal but if the back four remain disciplined and don’t take too many risks with a high line they should cope OK. At the other end of the pitch I’d like to see a bit more creativity in the final third from Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Gervinho because if they’re on song Arsenal will head into Christmas feeling plenty of festive cheer.


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I can't help but feel that this was a win we might not have got in recent seasons. We appeared a touch 'leggy' after the exertions of Sunday, but that did not detract from the effort put in to match a Villa side who certainly looked our equals for 80 minutes. Sometimes the harder you work the luckier you get. At the back Laurent Koscielny was again solid, and credit Francis Coquelin for defending well despite his early harsh booking. In midfield Mikel Arteta epitomised the Arsenal of late, with class allied to application. I was delighted both with and for Yossi Benayoun. His winner earned me a tidy tickle for the 2-1 scorecast, and boosted his chances of getting more deserved minutes on the pitch as the games come thick and fast over the holiday period. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of this side in the coming weeks.

A shift in attitude prompted by the much-improved performances of late means Arsenal have been the subject of much positive commentary following their narrow defeat in Manchester. That should hearten the side as they aim to get back to winning ways at Villa Park. Villa may have lost their last two at home, but they were against Liverpool and Manchester United, and they will be buoyed by the return from suspension of Agbonlahor. It will be interesting to see what XI we can put out against them because a settled side of late has developed an understanding that has seen confidence return both on and off the pitch. We need to change slightly with Djourou and Song unavailable, and hope there is no need for further rotation that may damage that new-found spirit and work ethic. Provided they are the only two changes I am confident we can get the right result. The three points are necessary to gain ground on Chelsea or Spurs, at least one of whom must drop points when they meet later this week.

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

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22 Dec 2011