Matt Lowton

Another season begins for Arsenal with too many people not very pleased about the way they handled their transfer business during the summer, not leaving too much hope for titles and such. For Aston Villa, the beginning of the Premier League season is about making it through a very rough early stretch, and avoiding relegation battles like last season.

It’s not enough that Arsenal have only added one player in order to improve a squad that barely made it into the Champions League last season, but it seems Arsene Wenger is drowning in injuries.

Mikel Arteta, the team’s number one option at defensive midfielder, is out of the match, but he’s not alone. Thomas Vermaelen, Nacho Monreal and Abou Diaby are definitely out of the match, while Aaron Ramsey might still be nursing an ankle injury, but should be at least on the bench.

Arsene Wenger sounds quite confident about being a part of the title challenge next season due to the very strong second half last year, but considering that his strike force still consists of only Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Yaya Sanogo, it’ll be safe to assume there are going to be some disappointing days in terms of finding the net.

For Aston Villa, there were plenty of additions, but as expected, none of them being headline scorchers. Jores Okore came from Denmark for £4.1 million as the most expensive signing, joined by Aleksandar Tonev from Lech Poznan, Antonio Luna from Sevilla, Nicklas Helenius from Aalborg and Leandro Bacuna from Groningen. All their new players are 23 or younger, keeping in line with last season’s youth movement.

The key men, however, will be Christian Benteke, who Aston Villa managed to hang on to despite a lot of interest from other Premier League teams, and Andreas Wiemann. If Villa are hoping to do more this season, which means hanging around the mid-table instead of rock bottom for most of the campaign, they’re going to need more than these two players to be consistent on offense.

Prediction – The missing players are a perfect ingredient for a choppy Arsenal start. Their defense isn’t at full health, and almost every question about the team going into the offseason was left unanswered. Aston Villa aren’t going to try and do much, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them coming away with a draw eventually.