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FA Cup fourth round: The ultimate guide to all of this weekend"s fixtures

FA Cup fourth round: The ultimate guide to all of this weekend's fixtures

PUBLISHED:

10:32 GMT, 25 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:05 GMT, 25 January 2013

With a huge 758 clubs entering the FA Cup this season, there are just 32 left as we head into the fourth round of the competition.

Here Sportsmail has teamed up with statistic giants Opta to bring you all the latest facts and team news ahead of ALL this weekend's fixtures.

Destination Wembley: Sixteen teams will make it through to round five

Destination Wembley: Sixteen teams will make it through to round five

Millwall v Aston Villa

Aston Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood and striker Jordan Bowery will return to the squad for Friday evening's FA Cup fourth round clash at Millwall.

Westwood and Bowery were cup-tied for the midweek Capital One Cup semi-final setback against Bradford at Villa Park after playing in the competition for Crewe and Chesterfield respectively.

But defender Nathan Baker is again ruled out with a hamstring injury and it is too soon for centre-back Richard Dunne to be considered after recovering from his groin injury.

Millwall are short of options in attack with on-loan Derby forward Nathan Tyson injured, while Darius Henderson joined Nottingham Forest on Thursday.

Martyn Woolford is cup-tied, Shane Lowry is suspended and Scott Malone is still sidelined with a back injury but Liam Feeney is fit again.

Available: Ashley Westwood (right) was cup tied midweek for the aggregate defeat to Bradford in the Capital One Cup semi-final

Available: Ashley Westwood (right) was cup tied midweek for the aggregate defeat to Bradford in the Capital One Cup semi-final

Millwall and Aston Villa have met five
times previously in the FA Cup, with Millwall progressing twice (both
after replays) and Villa going through on three occasions.

They were last drawn together in the fourth round in 1986, with Millwall progressing after a replay following a 1-1 draw at Villa Park.

The Lions have only lost two of their last 17 FA Cup games on home soil (W10 D5).

Villa were eliminated in the fourth round last year, when they faced Arsenal at the Emirates losing 3-2.

Millwall have only won two of their last seven games (L3 D2), with both victories coming at the New Den.

Aston Villa have now progressed through each of their last 10 FA Cup ties against lower ranked sides. Darren Bent has scored in four of his last five matches in the FA Cup.

Aston Villa provisional squad: Guzan, Given,
Marshall, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Lichaj, Stevens, Bennett, Ireland,
Westwood, N'Zogbia, Bannan, Delph, Holman, Benteke, Agbonlahor, Bent,
Bowery, Weimann, Burke, Johnson, Williams, Carruthers.

Stoke v Man City

Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson's back problem is likely to keep him out of Saturday's FA Cup fourth round tie at home to Manchester City.

The full-back sustained the problem in their third round replay last week and while Ryan Shotton played 45 minutes in a midweek friendly after a hamstring injury he may not be risked.

Thomas Sorensen is set to replace Asmir Begovic in goal, as has been the policy for cup matches this season.

Stoke and Man City have been drawn together seven time before in the FA Cup, with the Citizens progressing (or winning the final) four times and the Potters progressing on three occasions.

The most memorable of these meetings was the 2011 final, where Man City secured the trophy with a 1-0 win, courtesy of a Yaya Toure goal.
When drawn at the Britannia, the Potters are unbeaten in nine FA Cup games, winning seven and drawing two.

The last time City travelled to the Britannia in the FA Cup, they were eliminated, losing 3-1 in a replay back in February 2010.

The Citizens are enjoying a five game winning streak, netting 14 goals and shipping just three in the process.

City have won just two of their last eight on the road in the FA Cup, drawing three and losing three.

Man City are unbeaten in seven against the Potters in all competitions (three home wins, one neutral win and three away 1-1 draws).

Stoke provisional squad: Sorensen, Cameron,
Shawcross, Huth, Upson, Whelan, Nzonzi, Walters, Kightly, Etherington,
Jones, Sorensen, Whitehead, Crouch, Jerome, Adam, Palacios, Owen,
Shotton, Begovic.

Bolton v Everton
Bolton have not lost to Everton in the FA Cup since 1908, winning all three ties since then including in the semi-final back in 1953.

Overall, these North West rivals have been drawn together six times before, with Bolton progressing four times and Everton twice, both following a replay.

The Toffees are unbeaten in their last six away games in the FA Cup (W4 D2).

Everton have only kept three clean sheets in their last 14 FA Cup games, and only one on the road since 2009.

The Trotters are unbeaten in four games now (1W 3D), their second-longest run without defeat this season (six games in November).

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard netted on the last occasion these sides met, though Bolton still won 2-1 at Goodison Park.

There have been three red cards in the last five clashes between the Trotters and the Toffees in all competitions.

Brighton v Arsenal

Arsenal will be without captain Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) for Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round tie at Brighton.

Midfielders Abou Diaby (thigh) and Tomas Rosicky (calf) are set to be available again, but Mikel Arteta (calf), Francis Coquelin (hamstring) remain out.

Forward Gervinho is away at the African Nations Cup and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski (foot) is not yet in contention.

This will be only the fourth time the clubs have met in the FA Cup and the third time in the fourth round. Arsenal have won all three previous ties without needing a replay.

Setback: Tomas Rosicky (left) has played only four times for Arsenal this term

Setback: Tomas Rosicky (left) has played only four times for Arsenal this term

Their last meeting came in the fourth round in 1988, with The Gunners claiming a 2-1 victory.

Brighton have won their last two home FA Cup ties against Premier League opposition.

Arsenal are unbeaten in 33 games against lower ranked sides in the FA Cup, not losing since a 0-1 defeat at Sheffield United in 1996.

The Gunners have won none of their last three games on the road, losing one (v Chelsea) and drawing two (v Swansea in the FA Cup and v Southampton).

Brighton and Hove Albion defeated Newcastle United in the third round of the 1983 competition as they did earlier this campaign; they went on to reach the final 30 years ago.

The Gunners have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last seven away FA Cup games, shipping 12 in total in this away run.

Arsenal provisional squad:
Szczesny, Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna, Podolski, Cazorla,
Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere, Giroud, Mannone, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santos,
Arshavin, Jenkinson, Diaby, Rosicky.

Derby v Blackburn
The two sides have been played each on 10 previous occasions in the FA Cup, with both sides progressing five times apiece.

The last meeting between these Championship rivals came back in 2001 at this stage, when Blackburn won 5-2 away in a replay after a 0-0 draw at Ewood Park.

Blackburn have lost their last four away games in the FA Cup.

The Rams have won five and lost none of their last six home FA Cup matches against teams from the same division.

Overall, the Rams have suffered just one defeat in their last five games, winning two and drawing two.

Blackburn have won two and lost just one of their last four trips to the home of the Rams, drawing the other 1-1 earlier this season.

Huddersfield v Leicester
Huddersfield and Leicester have never met in the FA Cup.
The Terriers have won four out of their last five home games in the cup (1L).

The Foxes have struggled of late on the road in the FA Cup, winning only once in nine games (D1 L7).

Jermaine Beckford has scored seven goals in his last five FA Cup appearances and 16 in 19 overall.

Simon Grayson’s Huddersfield side have won just one of their last 13 games (1-0 v Charlton in FA Cup), losing six and drawing six.

Leicester have won each of their last five games, netting 14 goals and conceding just one goal in the process, with that goal against coming in their 6-1 thrashing of Huddersfield on January 1st.

Hull v Barnsley
The two sides met in the third round in 1958, with the tie going to a replay after finishing 1-1. The Tigers eventually progressed to the fourth round after securing a 2-0 victory.

The Tigers have reached the fourth round 23 times, progressing 12 times, including in three of their last four at this stage.

The Tykes have won just one of their last eight fourth round games on the road outright; though they have drawn five of these and gone on to win the replay on each occasion.

Barnsley are enjoying a three game unbeaten streak (W2 D1), their longest run without defeat this season.
On home soil, Hull have enjoyed just one win in their last four games, drawing two and losing one.

The last four clashes between these Championship rivals have all ended in home wins, while only one of the last eight has been won by the away side.

Macclesfield v Wigan

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez looks set to make several changes for Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Macclesfield.

Roger Espinoza and Angelo Henriquez are likely to start after making their Wigan debuts in the third-round win over Bournemouth, while Callum McManaman and Fraser Fyvie could also make rare appearances for the Latics.

Arouna Kone is unavailable as he is on African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast while Antolin Alcaraz (groin), Ivan Ramis (knee), Adrian Lopez (hamstring), midfielders Ben Watson (broken leg) and Albert Crusat (knee) and striker Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) are still unavailable.

Cup shock: Macclesfield players celebrate after eliminating Cardiff in round three

Cup shock: Macclesfield players celebrate after eliminating Cardiff in round three

This is the first time in Macclesfield’s history that they’ve reached the fourth round.

The Latics and the Silkmen have never met in the FA Cup before.
Wigan haven’t advanced through the fourth round since 1987, where they claimed a 1-0 victory against Norwich City.

The Silkmen have never defeated top flight opposition in the FA Cup.

Despite enduring another difficult season, Wigan are unbeaten in their last three games on the road, winning two and drawing one.

Matthew Barnes-Homer has scored six goals in his last five appearances in all competitions for the Silkmen.

Wigan have won both previous competitive meetings with Macclesfield, beating them 1-0 away and 2-0 at home in the 1998/99 division two.

Wigan provisional squad: Al
Habsi, Pollitt, Boyce, Caldwell, Ramis, Figueroa, Beausejour, Jones,
Maloney, Espinoza, McCarthy, McArthur, Stam, McManaman, Di Santo,
Henriquez, Boselli, Fyvie, Redmond, Mustoe, Orsula, Morris.

Middlesbrough v Aldershot
Boro and Aldershot will meet for the first time in the competition in this clash.

The Shots have scored eight goals in three FA Cup games so far this season, though they are yet to face a team from a higher division.

Aldershot have not won away from home against a side from a higher division since 1983, when they won 3-1 at Portsmouth.

‘Boro have won 11 of their last 15 home FA Cup ties against sides from lower divisions than them (D3 L1).

At the Riverside, ‘Boro have lost just one of their last six games, winning the other five.

Aldershot’s Danny Hylton has only scored one league goal in 19 games all season, but has netted seven times in three FA Cup appearances for the Shots.

Aldershot Town have made the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 1987, when they lost to Barnsley.

Norwich v Luton

Norwich manager Chris Hughton will again rotate his squad for Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Blue Square Premier side Luton at Carrow Road.

Declan Rudd will come into goal, while the likes of fit-again midfielder Andrew Surman, playmaker David Fox and winger Elliott Bennett are likely to get a chance to impress.

Full-back Steven Whittaker (hip) has resumed full training this week, so could come back into contention, but centre-half Sebastien Bassong (calf) may be rested again while striker Steve Morison (thigh) and England goalkeeper John Ruddy (thigh) remain sidelined.

This will be the fourth meeting between the Canaries and the Hatters in the FA Cup; the Hatters the first two, including the1959 semi, before Norwich won the most recent clash.

Cupset: Non-league Luton knocked out Wolves in the third round

Cupset: Non-league Luton knocked out Wolves in the third round

The last clash between these sides in the cup also came in the fourth round and Norwich won 2-0 (1976).

It’s the first time since 2007 that Luton have made it to the fourth round. That year, they were eliminated by Blackburn Rovers.

Luton haven’t beaten a Premier League side since 1993/94, when they defeated West Ham 3-2 in sixth round replay.

Chris Hughton’s Canaries have managed just one win in their last seven games (3-0 v Peterborough in the FA Cup), losing five and drawing one.
The Canaries have won their last three against Luton in all competitions, winning both meetings in 2006/07 3-2.

Norwich provisional squad:
Rudd, Barnett, Martin, R Bennett, Tierney, Fox, Surman, Snodgrass,
Johnson, E Bennett, Jackson, Steer, Garrido, Tettey, Pilkington, Kane,
Holt, Whittaker, Hoolahan.

QPR v MK Dons
The R’s and the Dons met for the first time in any competition in the FA Cup last season, where they drew the original fixture 1-1 before QPR won 1-0 at Loftus Road, courtesy of a Danny Gabbidon strike.

The R’s have not won an FA Cup tie without the use of a replay since January 1997, when they beat Barnsley 3-2 at this stage in 1997.

MK Dons have scored 10 goals in their last four FA Cup games and they have never helped them reach the fourth round for the first time.

The Hoops have been improving under Harry Redknapp and remain unbeaten in 2013, winning two, drawing three, scoring four and shipping just two in the process.

The Dons have won two and drawn two of their last four games, shipping a total of just two goals in those four fixtures.

Milton Keynes eliminated a higher ranked side for the first time in their history in the third round of this season, beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 in a replay.

Reading v Sheffield United

Reading are without striker Jason Roberts (hip) for Saturday's FA Cup fourth round clash against Sheffield United.

Midfielder Jem Karacan suffered an unspecified knock in training but should be fit, while goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (shoulder) and midfielder Hope Akpan (cup-tied) are unavailable.

Striker Adam Le Fondre could start after scoring two vital goals as a substitute in the Royals' 2-1 Barclays Premier League win over Newcastle last weekend.

Royal no show: Jason Roberts (left) has been ruled out for Reading

Royal no show: Jason Roberts (left) has been ruled out for Reading

Reading’s only previous encounter against the Blades was back in 1998 and ended in a 1-0 home victory for the Sheffield side.

Reading have kept only two clean sheets in 15 home cup ties.
The Blades have only won once in their last 18 away FA Cup games to higher level opposition, drawing three and losing 14.

The Royals have won their last three games in a row, the first time they’ve managed consecutive wins this season, with Adam Le Fondre netting five goals in total in those games.

Reading have won five of their last six FA Cup games against sides from lower leagues, though they did lose their last one at home (0-1 v Stevenage last season).

The Blades are unbeaten in five against Reading in all competitions, winning four.

United have also won their last three at the Madejski Stadium, not tasting defeat there since the 2006/07 Premier League.

Reading provisional squad:
Federici, Ugwu, Taylor, Gunter, Kelly, Cummings, Pearce, Morrison,
Mariappa, Shorey, Harte, McAnuff, Carrico, Tabb, Karacan, Kebe,
McCleary, Robson-Kanu, Leigertwood, Le Fondre, Hunt, Pogrebnyak.

Manchester United v Fulham

Ashley Young and Jonny Evans will remain on the sidelines for Manchester United's FA Cup fourth round tie with Fulham at Old Trafford.

England winger Young suffered a knee injury against Liverpool a fortnight ago, whilst Evans (hamstring) has not featured since the FA Cup draw at West Ham three weeks ago.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson must decide whether to stick with David De Gea in goal or recall Anders Lindegaard, who took over for the replay win against the Hammers.

Old Trafford return: Dimitar Berbatov left Manchester United to join Fulham last summer

Old Trafford return: Dimitar Berbatov left Manchester United to join Fulham last summer

Fulham midfielder Kieran Richardson will miss the chance to take on former club Manchester United.

The 28-year-old suffered a calf injury in last weekend's defeat at Manchester City and will not be fit in time for the game at Old Trafford, although he is likely to return to training next week.

Mahamadou Diarra (knee) is not likely to play again for a month whilst Kerim Frei (pelvis) is also absent.

The two clubs have met nine times before in the FA Cup, with United progressing through the last seven after elimination in the first two (1905 and 1908).

The last time they played each other in the fourth round was in 1979, when the Red Devils won 1-0 in a home replay after drawing 1-1 in London.

United have only lost twice in their last 18 FA Cup games at home, winning 14.

Fulham have won 10 out of their last 11 FA Cup fourth round ties, though they were eliminated at this stage last season (to Everton).

Robin Van Persie has scored in each of his last six games for United (seven goals in total) and has bagged 11 in his last 11 appearances.

Martin Jol’s Whites have registered just two wins in their last nine games, losing four and drawing three.

The Red Devils have won their last 10 at home to Fulham in all competitions, not even sharing the spoils with the Whites since a 1-3 defeat in October 2003.

Manchester United provisional squad:
Lindegaard, De Gea, Amos, Smalling, Vidic, Ferdinand, Buttner, Evra,
Cleverley, Giggs, Anderson, Scholes, Carrick, Kagawa, Nani, Hernandez,
Rooney, Welbeck, Van Persie.

Fulham provisional squad:
Schwarzer, Somogyi, Etheridge, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Senderos,
Riise, Briggs, Dejagah, Baird, Sidwell, Karagounis, Kacaniklic, Duff,
Kasami, Ruiz, Rodallega, Berbatov, Petric, Davies.

Brentford v Chelsea
The only time the West London clubs have met in the FA Cup was in 1950, where Chelsea won 1-0 at Griffin Park.

The Blues have won 15 of their last 16 FA Cup fourth round ties, losing the other on penalties to Everton.

Chelsea have only lost one of their last 35 FA Cup games outright; 0-1 v Barnsley in March 2008 (W29 D5 L1).

The Blues have shipped just nine goals in their last 13 away FA Cup games combined, and never more than once in single match in this run.

The Bees have won just one of their last 13 FA Cup games against

Premier League sides; beating Sunderland at this stage in 2006 (W1 D3 L9).

Juan Mata has now scored four goals and assisted five in just eight FA Cup appearances for Chelsea.

Frank Lampard has been involved in 10 goals in his last nine FA Cup appearances; scoring six and assisted four.

Leeds v Tottenham
The two clubs have faced each other five times in the FA Cup before, with Leeds winning just one tie (sixth round in 1972).

The most recent meeting came back in 2010, in the fourth round, when the original tie ended 2-2. The replay saw Spurs win 3-1 at Elland Road, courtesy of a Jermain Defoe hat-trick.

Spurs have kept three clean sheets in their last four away FA Cup games, but have failed to score in three of the four themselves.

Leeds have been eliminated by North London clubs in each of the last three FA Cups, losing to Tottenham in 2010 and Arsenal in 2011 and 2012.

At Elland Road, Leeds have lost just one of their last eight games (W6 D1), although that defeat came against another Premier League side, Chelsea, 5-1 in the Capital One Cup.

AVB’s Tottenham side are now unbeaten in eight games, winning five and drawing three.

After no goals in his first 13 games in the competition, Gareth Bale has scored in three successive FA Cup games.

Oldham v Liverpool
The two clubs met last year in the third round, in a one-sided match dominated by Liverpool who won 5-1.

Oldham have lost all four matches against Liverpool in the FA Cup.
The Reds have won five and lost just two of their last nine away games in the FA Cup (D2).

Oldham have won two of their last four FA Cup games against Premier League sides, including a win against Merseysiders Everton in 2008.

The Latics have lost each of their last four games at Boundary Park, conceding exactly two goals in each of those defeats.

Brendan Rodgers’ Reds are enjoying a good run of form, winning four of their last five (losing the other one), with Luis Suarez netting six goals in total in those games.

The Reds have won their last three against Oldham in all competitions, but did lose 2-3 at Boundary Park in the Premier League back in May 1993.

Aston Villa 2 Ipswich 1: Weimann saves the day as Villans come from behind

Aston Villa 2 Ipswich 1: Bent makes a big difference and puts his case to Lambert

By
Myles Hodgson

PUBLISHED:

16:54 GMT, 5 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:16 GMT, 5 January 2013

Darren Bent presented a strong case for further inclusion in Aston Villa's first-team squad after sparking a comeback that helped to secure the club's first home win since November.

The England striker has fallen out of favour with manager Paul Lambert following the arrival of Christian Benteke, who has already contributed nine goals in his first season in English football.

A recent hamstring injury has further restricted Bent's opportunities but, given a rare start, he played a crucial role in ensuring Villa progressed to the fourth round.

Magic of the cup: Aston Villa's Darren Bent with the club mascot

Magic of the Cup: Aston Villa's Darren Bent with the club mascot

MATCH FACTS

Aston Villa: Given, Lichaj, Clark, Baker, Bennett, Albrighton (Weimann 43), Bannan, Delph, N'Zogbia (Ireland 70), Bowery (Agbonlahor 62), Bent. Subs not used: Guzan, Benteke, Stevens, Carruthers.

Scorers: Bent 46, Weimann 83.

Ipswich: Loach, Hewitt, Kisnorbo, Smith, Cresswell, Martin, Reo-Coker, Hyam, Emmanuel-Thomas (McGoldrick 60), Chopra (Mclean 74), Murphy (Edwards 70). Subs not used: Lee-Barrett, Chambers, N'Daw, Whight.

Yellow cards: Kisnorbo, Hyam.

Scorer Chopra 31.

Attendance: 24,854.

Referee: Jon Moss.

His clinical finish from Charles
N'Zogbia's pass cancelled out Michael Chopra's opening goal before
Andreas Weimann scored a late winner to claim Villa's first home victory
since beating Reading on November 27.

'That was Darren Bent down to a T. I thought his game was very, very good,' said Lambert.

'His whole work ethic and the way he
played was good, his finishing was top class and I thought his whole
general game was really good, considering he only really trained with us
for the first time yesterday, so it was a big effort from him.'

Bent was one of seven changes to
Villa's starting line-up as Lambert rested players ahead of Tuesday's
Capital One Cup semi-final first leg at Bradford and next Saturday's
crucial home game against relegation rivals Southampton.

Bent provided enough evidence to suggest he has unfinished business with Villa.

In with a shout: Michael Chopra of Ipswich celebrates the opening goal

In with a shout: Michael Chopra of Ipswich celebrates the opening goal

He provided the two chances during a
scrappy first half – whipping a cross past Jordan Bowery and then
heading his strike partner clear, only for the low shot to be saved by
goalkeeper Scott Loach.

That 30th-minute save proved pivotal, with Ipswich striker Chopra breaking to turn defender Nathan Baker.

out of reach: Ipswich keeper Scott Loach can't reach Andreas Weimann's strike for Aston Villa

out of reach: Ipswich keeper Scott Loach can't reach Andreas Weimann's strike for Aston Villa

What a relief: Aston Villa keeper Shay Given celebrates his side's winner

What a relief: Aston Villa keeper Shay Given celebrates his side's winner

His low shot was bundled into the net
off Eric Lichaj's legs. But Bent equalised in the first minute after
the restart as N'Zogbia threaded the pass through.

'The goal after half-time changed
the game,' said Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy. 'We handled them in the
first half but Bent's goal changed things.'

The equaliser gave Villa fresh
impetus and Weimann, brought on before half-time after Mark Albrighton
suffered a foot injury, continued his rich vein of scoring form with his
seventh of the season.

Oh dear: Bolton players celebrate Eric Lichaj's own goal

Oh dear: Bolton players celebrate Eric Lichaj's own goal

Aston Villa 0 Wigan 3 – match report

Aston Villa 0 Wigan 3: Lambert's hapless youngsters wiped out yet again by rampant Latics

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UPDATED:

17:25 GMT, 29 December 2012

Crisis club Aston Villa alarmingly dropped deeper into a Premier League relegation battle with another abject performance against Wigan.

The visitors, meanwhile, moved out of the bottom three with a conclusive victory to record their first win in seven matches which highlighted Villa's dramatic shortcomings.

Villa, watched by club owner Randy Lerner, never recovered from a disastrous start when Ivan Ramis gave the Latics a morale-boosting lead after only three minutes.

Opener: Ivan Ramis (right) celebrates his goal which got proceedings underway

Opener: Ivan Ramis (right) celebrates his goal which got proceedings underway

It's raining goals: But sadly for Paul Lambert they're all going against his hapless Villa side

It's raining goals: But sadly for Paul Lambert they're all going against his hapless Villa side

MATCH FACTS

Aston Villa: Guzan, Herd, Clark, Lichaj (Albrighton 64), Lowton, Ireland (El Ahmadi 63), Holman (Bowery 63), Bannan, Bennett, Weimann, Benteke.

Subs not used: Given, Westwood, Stevens, Carruthers.

Booked: Bannan, Lowton, Weimann.

Wigan: Al Habsi, Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, Jones (McArthur 65), Beausejour (Gomez 79), Kone (McManaman 87), Di Santo, Maloney.

Subs: Pollitt, Boselli, Stam, Golobart.

Booked: Boyce, Maloney.

Goals: Ramos 3, Boyce 52, Kone 56.

Att: 33,374.

Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

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Two goals in the space of four minutes
early in the second half from Emmerson Boyce and Arouna Kone sealed
Villa's fate as their confidence visibly evaporated. They have now
shipped 15 goals in three games.

In the continued absence of such
players as Darren Bent, Richard Dunne, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles
N'Zogbia and Nathan Baker, the options open to under-pressure manager
Paul Lambert are very limited as illustrated in this latest defeat.

Just how much a lightweight Villa are
missing the commanding presence of Dunne was highlighted as early as the
third minute when Wigan took a shock lead.

Villa's inability to defend set-pieces
was blatantly exposed in the third minute after the ball ran out for a
corner as Matthew Lowton appeared to handle.

Jean Beausejour's accurate corner was
perfectly placed for the unmarked Ivan Ramis to mark his return to
action after missing six games with a powerful header past the
transfixed Brad

It was the 13th goal conceded by Guzan
and Villa in three games and once again gave the West Midlands club a
steep hill to climb.

Penalty decisions have gone against
Wigan this season and on this occasion they were again out of favour
when Stephen Ireland appeared to foul Shaun Maloney.

Seconds later Maloney had a wild shot
from the edge of the area with a gaping goal at his mercy when Villa
were again on the wrong foot.

Villa battled hard to retrieve the situation but they lacked a cutting edge.

Christian Benteke was extremely
subdued and it was left to the industrious Andress Weimann to pressurise
Wigan's defence in which Ramis and skipper Gary Caldwell were rock
solid.

Leap: Ramis nodded home to get another day of misery for Villa underway

Leap: Ramis nodded home to get another day of misery for Villa underway

Pulling the strings for the visitors
was Shaun Maloney. The Scottish international formerly played for Villa
but was allowed to return north of the border because he was homesick,
before joining Wigan last year.

Benteke finally found a route through
Wigan's defence in the 36th minute with a rasping shot only for the goal
to be disallowed with Weimann in an offside position.

After Emmerson Boyce and Maloney were
booked for reckless tackles Villa's best chance of an equaliser fell to
Brett Holman two minutes before the break when the Australian grazed the
crossbar with an angled shot.

All these efforts in search of an
equaliser were to no avail as seven minutes into the second half Wigan
consolidated their lead.

Boyce raced through despite the
attention of three Villa defenders and took a return pass from Arouna
Kone to fire his low shot past Guzan.

Early bird: Ramis headed home a corner after just three minutes against Villa's hapless defence

Early bird: Ramis headed home a corner after just three minutes against Villa's hapless defence

In the 56th minute Kone himself got in
on the goalscoring as he took a through pass from Di Santo as he sliced
his way through Villa's dithering defence to score from a tight angle
despite a challenge from Guzan.

Villa made a triple substitution sending on El Ahmadi, Bowery and Albrighton for Ireland, Holman and Lichaj.

The changes resulted in more attacking play but the damage had been done as Wigan were content to absorb the pressure.

It was the 13th goal conceded by Guzan
and Villa in three games and once again gave the West Midlands club a
steep hill to climb.

Penalty decisions have gone against
Wigan this season and on this occasion they were again out of favour
when Stephen Ireland appeared to foul Shaun Maloney.

Seconds later Maloney had a wild shot
from the edge of the area with a gaping goal at his mercy when Villa
were again on the wrong foot.

Despair: Stephen Ireland and Chris Herd look miserable during their defeat

Despair: Stephen Ireland and Chris Herd look miserable during their defeat

In the money: Emmerson Boyce popped up to double Wigan's lead

In the money: Emmerson Boyce popped up to double Wigan's lead

Villa battled hard to retrieve the situation but they lacked a cutting edge.

Christian Benteke was extremely
subdued and it was left to the industrious Andress Weimann to pressurise
Wigan's defence in which Ramis and skipper Gary Caldwell were rock
solid.

Pulling the strings for the visitors
was Shaun Maloney. The Scottish international formerly played for Villa
but was allowed to return north of the border because he was homesick,
before joining Wigan last year.

Benteke finally found a route through
Wigan's defence in the 36th minute with a rasping shot only for the goal
to be disallowed with Weimann in an offside position.

After Emmerson Boyce and Maloney were
booked for reckless tackles Villa's best chance of an equaliser fell to
Brett Holman two minutes before the break when the Australian grazed the
crossbar with an angled shot.

All these efforts in search of an
equaliser were to no avail as seven minutes into the second half Wigan
consolidated their lead.

Crunch: Franco Di Santo (right) goes in on Villa's Joe Bennett

Crunch: Franco Di Santo (right) goes in on Villa's Joe Bennett

Three and easy: Arouna Kone rounds Brad Guzan and tucks in the third

Three and easy: Arouna Kone rounds Brad Guzan and tucks in the third

Boyce raced through despite the
attention of three Villa defenders and took a return pass from Arouna
Kone to fire his low shot past Guzan.

In the 56th minute Kone himself got in
on the goalscoring as he took a through pass from Di Santo as he sliced
his way through Villa's dithering defence to score from a tight angle
despite a challenge from Guzan.

Villa made a triple substitution sending on El Ahmadi, Bowery and Albrighton for Ireland, Holman and Lichaj.

The changes resulted in more attacking play but the damage had been done as Wigan were content to absorb the pressure.

Laughing matter: Roberto Martinez saw his side bang in the goals for their first win in five

Laughing matter: Roberto Martinez saw his side bang in the goals for their first win in five

Shake on it: Martinez greets Villa mascot Hercules the Lion

Shake on it: Martinez greets Villa mascot Hercules the Lion

Darren Bent: which Premier League clubs will move for Aston Villa misfit in January

Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all need Darren Bent… but which Premier League clubs will make a move for Villa's 24m misfit

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UPDATED:

12:30 GMT, 29 November 2012

So what's the problem with Bent

Bent conundrum: Villa must cough up seven-figure sum if he plays three more games… so is that why he's been frozen out

Revealed: The full transcript of how Paul Lambert explains his treatment of Bent

The end of Darren Bent's Aston Villa career appears nigh after the striker spent his Tuesday evening watching his club's victory over Reading in an executive box.

Paul Lambert's decision to choose Christian Benteke over Bent up front was vindicated by a winning goal from the Belgian in a 1-0 victory. But, despite the England striker having scored over 100 goals in the Premier League, summer buy Jordan Bowery was given the nod ahead of the club's 24m record signing on the bench.

Lambert will not disclose just what his problem is with Bent, with theories ranging from a falling out between the pair or Villa's reluctance to pay another installment on his huge transfer fee, which would be due should he play three more matches for the club.

But if Bent leaves Villa in January, we reckon there are 15 Premier League clubs who could do with his goals. Here’s our list. Let us know what you think.

Darren Bent scores against West Brom

Darren Bent scores against West Brom

Hotshot: Darren Bent is an England striker with over 100 Premier League goals to his name, including this strike against West Brom on September 30

Club
Do they need him
Will they try and get him
Arsenal
Yes

No. Not Wenger’s type of player.Aston Villa
Yes They will try to get rid of him. For around 8m. Chelsea Yes He would help lift the load from Fernando Torres… but does Roman buy
many English strikers Everton
Yes
More firepower, but won’t pay fee or wages. So no.Fulham

Yes

Can’t afford him and they have Berbatov as their No1 player and ego.Liverpool Yes Yes, if the price is right.Manchester City
No
No… Tevez, Balotelli, Aguero, Dzeko.Manchester United
No
No… Rooney, RVP, Hernandez, Welbeck.Newcastle
Yes
No chance. Ex Sunderland.Norwich Yes Would he fit in the same dressing room as Grant HoltQPR
Yes If Harry gets the money, expect him to be first in the queueReading

Yes
He would surely keep them up, but can they afford himSouthampton
No
No, they’ve spent their money.
Stoke
No They have enough decent strikers, but if they sold Crouch to QPR…Sunderland
Yes
No, been there – and done that.Swansea
Yes He could be a good foil for Michu. Would he go to WalesTottenham Yes
Unlikely. They already have their fox in the box with Defoe.West BromNo No need to upset the applecart. Already have the ego of Odemwinge.West Ham
Yes They can’t afford him. Maybe a loan, if Carroll doesn’t stay.Wigan Yes More goals, more firepower but not enough money or glamour.

DO YOU WANT DARREN BENT AT YOUR CLUB

LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW…

Darren Bent and Paul Lambert row – why is the Aston Villa misfit not playing

Revealed: The full transcript of how Paul Lambert explains his treatment of Villa's 24million misfit striker Darren Bent

|

UPDATED:

13:49 GMT, 28 November 2012

With Aston Villa being the joint lowest goalscorers in the Premier League after the weekend's action, Tuesday night's home fixture against Reading afforded manager Paul Lambert the chance to improve that statistic.

Christian Benteke's late winner afforded the Scot welcome cheer as Villa collected their second home triumph of the season as they jumped out of the relegation zone following a 1-0 win.

Scroll down for the full transcript from last night's interview with Paul Lambert

Out of favour: Darren Bent has lost his place in the Villa side

Out of favour: Darren Bent has lost his place in the Villa side

Hot shot: 24m Bent has scored 22 goals in 47 appearances

Hot shot: 24m Bent has scored 22 goals in 47 appearances

But there was, once more, no place in the starting XI for Darren Bent. The England striker has scored over 100 goals in the Premier League, yet summer signing Jordan Bowery was given the nod ahead of the club's 24m record signing. Bent spent his evening watching from an executive box.

Despite several attempts by the assembled broadcast and print media to establish a reason for this, it seems no-one is the wiser.

The facts are that Lambert said he would get Bent firing once more upon his arrival at the club. Since then, he has been made captain. Following an ankle injury, he has been relegated to the bench and now is unable to feature at all. Of course, Paul Lambert can point to the scoreline as justification for his actions. That is his absolute right as manager of Aston Villa Football Club.

Just for the record, however, for all those Villa fans scratching their heads at Bent's exclusion, we are reproducing last night's post-match press conference verbatim – to prove to those who remain puzzled by the whole situation the questions have been asked.

Under pressure: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert

Under pressure: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert

Suited and booted: Bent watches the action from an executive box on Tuesday night

Suited and booted: Bent watches the action from an executive box on Tuesday night

Lambert on Bent… the press conference transcript in full

Press: While Benteke had a big game tonight people will wonder why Darren Bent wasn't in the squad tonight.

Paul Lambert: He was in the squad.

Press: But not on the bench, even.

Paul Lambert: It was the same on Saturday. I just picked the same group
that deserves the chance to keep going. I always do what I think is
right for the football club.

Press: You do realise that with ten minutes to go with the game
goalless, you have a 24m signing sitting in the stands. With respect to
Jordan Bowery, are you more likely to get a goal from him or Darren
Bent

Paul Lambert: But you can't talk about ifs, buts or maybes. The reality
is that we won. That's the game. I'll always make that decision. I'll
make an honest judgement who plays.

Press: That's accepted, it's your head on the chopping block if you
don't win. But just for the record, what's the problem with Bent

Paul Lambert: There's no point me saying it again, is there (Laughs)

Press: It was a big game tonight and we wondered why you wouldn't at
least have the safety net of a proven Premier League goalscorer on the
bench. What is the problem

Paul Lambert: Absolutely none.

Press: So you just don't fancy him as a player

Paul Lambert: I do. But I've told you before that I'll pick a game to
win. I have 25 guys to look after and the most important thing is this
club. I'll make decisions and I'll live or die by them. That's the
nature of the beast.

Press: How did he take it when you announced who was playing

Paul Lambert: I just read the team out. The lads who were going to take
the field of play and those on the bench, you have to get them focused
on the game. All I try to do is pick a team to win a game.

Press: There were reports he stomped off Are they right

Paul Lambert: No, honestly, I would tell you. (Laughter from the floor) (And then from Lambert)

Press: How is his attitude Is that a problem

Paul Lambert: Fine. I'll do what's best for Aston Villa.

Press: So what does he have to do to get back in, Paul

Paul Lambert: Any player that I have, you work hard, you stay in the side. You play on merit.

Press: So, he's just not working hard enough, then

Paul Lambert: I never said that, you did. I never said that. If people
aren't working hard enough, I need to pick people who will affect the
game.

Press: Will he be sold in January He clearly doesn't fit the bill for you…

Paul Lambert: Honestly, my main concern is winning games for this football club. Crowd are brilliant, right behind you.

Press: Can we clarify that you have no problem with his application

Paul Lambert: No, none.

Press: Will he get a chance before January

Paul Lambert: Everyone will get the same chance. I see them train every
day, at work every day. Then you try and pick a team that will win.

Press: You've been proved right, haven't you Benteke scored and Villa won…

Paul Lambert: That's the game, you live and die by your decisions to do your best for the club.

Press: Is he down at all, Paul

Paul Lambert: Who

Press: Your club record signing.

Press: You said he knows what he needs to do to get back in, has there been any kind of conversation between the pair of you

Paul Lambert: I've said I don't have any problem.

Press: There were reports he left the stadium after the team was announced…

Paul Lambert: I don't know anything about that. I haven't heard that, no.

Press: Can you see him playing again here

Paul Lambert: You never know. I'll keep saying it: I'll play a team and
squad to win. The game's about winning. I've got 26 guys, some are
injured. It's a team game. You need everyone to pull the same way and
that's what we will create here.

Press: If a player was to take the hump and leave the stadium following
the announcement of the team, would it be club policy to discipline him
(Interjection from Press officer, “It didn't happen.”)

Press: Can you understand why we ask these questions, he's a man you made club captain…

Paul Lambert: Yes, I understand the questions. I get them every Friday.
It's the same answers. It's boring for you. I don't know what else you
can write about it.

Press: To put it into perspective, this was a big game tonight. I know
you've said you don't look at the table but 28,000 people here tonight
were looking at it. We were looking at it, our offices in London are
looking at it. We are wondering why, a man the club signed two years
ago, to provide goals doesn't get a run under you, given the fact that
when you came in, you showered him with praise, then you made him
captain. Now, not only can he not get into the side, he can't get on the
bench I know you have 20-odd professionals to look after, but the
question remains when you are struggling for goals, what's going on

Paul Lambert: I know you have your jobs to do, I'll give you the same answer.

Press: But the fans want to know and we are conduits to them.

Paul Lambert: I'm trying to give you an honest answer. If I was going to
lie to you, honestly, I would. It's my decision. Is that all right

Press: Can we put it another way Villa haven't scored a lot of goals.
We are wondering why someone who throughout his career has scored a lot
of goals we are trying to understand the thought process you are going
through to make that. What is it, so we can understand it

Paul Lambert: I think the decision is one I will make. You can't please
people all the time. Stephen Ireland and Charles N'Zogbia might not be
happy. Shay Given, for instance. It's not easy. I'll say it again. I've
got other lads to look after. I've never had one problem with any of
them.
So there you have it.

Are you any the wiser

No, nor us.

Darren Bent dropped: Paul Lambert defends decision

Lambert defends decision to leave Bent off the bench as Benteke earns him victory

|

UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 27 November 2012


Good work: Gabriel Agbonlahor congratulates Christian Benteke after his goal

Good work: Gabriel Agbonlahor congratulates Christian Benteke after his goal

Paul Lambert again defended his decision to exclude Aston Villa's record signing Darren Bent from his matchday plans as his side gained a crucial 1-0 home win over Reading.

A late header from Christian Benteke, who has replaced Bent as the number one striker, moved Villa out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

But there was no place again for 18million signing Bent even amongst the substitutes with rookie striker Jordan Bowery preferred.

Lambert denied there was any fallout with Bent or that the striker had left the stadium before kick-off after his exclusion from his plans.

Lambert said: 'Darren was in the squad, it was the same on Saturday. I just picked the same group. I do what think is best for Aston Villa.

'But honestly, I don't have a problem with Darren Bent and I do rate him as a player.

'I've no problem with his attitude in training, none whatsoever.

'Did he storm off No, not a thing. I would tell you. I thought he was fine. I read the team out. The most important thing is Aston Villa.

'Will I listen to offers in January Honestly my main concern is winning games for this club, nothing else.

'Can Bent play again for us Yes, never rule anything out. But I pick a team to win, I never pick one I think will lose.'

Lambert is aware of the significance of Villa's third win of the season.

Rise and fall: Benteke leaps above the defender to break the deadlock

Rise and fall: Benteke leaps above the defender to break the deadlock

He said: 'It was a big result because we knew the Arsenal game at the weekend would take a lot out of us.

'Reading had also played well against Wigan so knew it would be a tough game. But I don't know about it being a six-pointer. Never look at things now, look in May.'

Reading boss Brian McDermott was left to bemoan his side's defending when Benteke headed home an Ashley Westwood corner 10 minutes from time.

It was another late and crucial goal conceded by the Royals who lost 3-2 at Wigan.

He said: 'I thought we were going to get a point. I knew the first goal was going to be crucial.

'I thought the shape of the team was good but to lose the goal from a set piece was disappointing.

'I thought we had solved the late goal problem. But it's not a six-pointer. It's a game of football and we've got a game of football to look forward to against Manchester United at the weekend.'

Gabriel Agbonlahor is pleased to see strike partner Benteke becoming a hit with the Villa fans.

Agbonlahor, captain for the night, told Sky Sports 2: 'You can tell by the fans' reaction how much they've taken to him.

'He's still only 21 but he doing great for us. He's helped us with the goal tonight and all credit to him.'

Benteke's
header was a rare highlight in an uninspiring 90 minutes but Agbonlahor
said: 'It was a scrappy game but we'll take the three points and move
on.'

Kept in reserve: Darren Bent was not even on the subs bench

Kept in reserve: Darren Bent was not even on the subs bench

That feeling was
shared by midfielder Barry Bannan, who said: 'There's less expectation
against the big clubs and it was hard to come out tonight and win the
game but we dug in and got the three points.

'It's massive. We need to win games
and it's big relief for us. There's been a lot of people talking about
us being in the bottom three and it's hard to take.

'We've
got to keep doing what we're doing and hopefully it's good enough.
We've got a great team spirit here, we're all young lads and we're
learning every day.'

Aston Villa v Arsenal live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Aston Villa v Arsenal – as it happens from Villa Park

|

UPDATED:

18:09 GMT, 24 November 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Aston Villa host Arsenal at Villa Park to conclude Saturday's action. The Gunners are riding high on confidence following their qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League and travel to a Villa side involved in a battle against relegation at this stage of the season. Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal (5.30pm)

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Weimann, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Benteke.
Subs: Given, Ireland, Albrighton, Holman, Delph, Bowery, Lichaj.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Oxlade Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.
Subs: Mannone, Sagna, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Coquelin, Arshavin, Gervinho.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Click here for the live Premier League table

All the latest from the Championship

37min: A mistake from Szczesny sees him handle the ball outside the box under pressure from Gabriel Agbonlahor, giving Villa a free-kick on the left flank and the keeper a booking.

36min: Villa are stretched at the back again but the backline keeps its shape as Cazorla's 25-yard shot is blocked.

35min: There are signs that Arsenal are starting to make their class tell as they are now seeing more of the ball and forcing the hosts to drop deep.

When Villa do get possession back, they try to pass the ball around but are quickly forced into a hurried clearance.

32min: After that fine opening Villa have struggled to to test Arsenal in the last 15 minutes but will be happy that they have limited Arsenal going forward. The rain continues to fall in Birmingham.

29min: And this is a full chance. The Gunners break down the right and after the ball finds Ramsey inside the area, his shot through a crowd of Villa bodies and across goal is well blocked by Guzan.

27min: Half-chance for Arsenal as the ball bounces loose for Lukas Podolski inside the box, but Brad Guzan is quickly off his line to claim before the German can shoot.

25min: From InfostradaLive:

Arsenal have scored at least twice in four of their last five PL visits to Villa Park.

22min: But we are soon back at the other end where Villa think they have won a free-kick on the right side of the box.

As it turns out, Karim El Ahmadi is booked for diving after Santi Cazorla makes no contact with his attempted tackle. A great call by Lee Mason and his officials.

20min: A minute of appreciation from the Villa fans who applaud in support of their captain, Stiliyan Petrov who is battling illness.

During it, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fires wide at the near post for Arsenal.

19min: From there Westwood crosses for Benteke who climbs above Laurent Koscielny to head wide back across goal.

18min: Another Villa corner as Bannan's chip into the box is headed behind by Kieran Gibbs. It was crucial too as had he missed it, Benteke would have been one-on-one with Szczesny.

16min: The home fans are really starting to get behind their side as they force the Gunners into a number of errors.

Christian Benteke scuffs a shot from a poor Carl Jenkinson header inside the box as Villa continue to chase every ball.

14min: Excellent passing from Villa. A neat passing move precedes Westwood picking out Andreas Weimann on the left side of the box with a lofted ball, and his cross is pushed behind by Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny. The corner though comes to nothing.

11min: Barry Bannan's inswinging delivery from it is decent and powerful but no one can make contact as it flies wide at the far post.

10min: And his side win a free-kick to the right deep in Arsenal's half after Aaron Ramsey's sloppy lunge on Ashley Westwood.

9min: Aston Villa boss, Paul Lambert is serving a touchline ban today and judging by the weather it's a good match to observe it.

The Scot is watching from the stands but will be impressed how his side has stifled Arsenal so far.

6min: The away side continue to probe for an opening as Kieran Gibbs plays a hopeful low cross into the box but Villa comfortably clear.

5min: Olivier Giroud's cross from left is headed behind by Ron Vlaar for a corner, but the set-piece into the box evades everyone.

3min: Arsenal are trying to settle into their passing game but plenty of appetite from Villa so far who are pressing all over the park. No chances.

Tough in the tackle: Arsenal's Olivier Giroud (right) attempts to tackle Aston Villa's Ron Vlaar

Tough in the tackle: Arsenal's Olivier Giroud (right) attempts to tackle Aston Villa's Ron Vlaar

Kick-off: Arsenal, in yellow, get us going with Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla.

17.25: It's a chilly evening in the West Midlands and the rain is falling to accompany it as the players make their way out.

17.20: From InfostradaLive:

The starting lines up for both teams have a combined average age of 24 years and 252 days old – the youngest of any PL fixture this season and youngest since Manchester United’s 8-2 home win against Arsenal in August 2011 (23-314).

17.15: Arsene Wenger has said pre-match he expects a direct approach from Aston Villa and that he is prepared for it.

That's providing Paul Lambert's side can get the ball of course. The hosts could spend much of this game chasing shadows.

Back in the team: Aaron Ramsey replaces the rested Jack Wilshere for Arsenal

Back in the team: Aaron Ramsey replaces the rested Jack Wilshere for Arsenal

17.10: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert recalls midfielder Karim El Ahmadi in place of Stephen Ireland for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Arsenal – but there is no place amongst the substitutes for fit-again striker Darren Bent.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger makes three changes from the line-up which qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League via the midweek win over Montpellier.

Full-backs Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs replace Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen while midfielder Aaron Ramsey comes in for the rested Jack Wilshere.

17.05: The full line-ups from Villa Park:

Aston Villa v Arsenal
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Weimann, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Benteke. Subs: Given, Ireland, Albrighton, Holman, Delph, Bowery, Lichaj.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud. Subs: Mannone, Sagna, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Coquelin, Arshavin, Gervinho.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

17.00: On paper this isn't really a contest. Aston Villa looking well short of confidence and stuck inside the bottom three go up against an Arsenal side starting to go up through the gears again.

An away victory is surely on the cards but i think I may have said something like that when the Gunners visited Norwich recently…team news up next.

Gunning for success: Arsenal will hope to pile more misery on Aston Villa at Villa Park

Gunning for success: Arsenal will hope to pile more misery on Aston Villa at Villa Park

Southampton 4 Aston Villa 1: Saints off the mark after Lambert brace

Southampton 4 Aston Villa 1: Saints off the mark after Lambert brace

|

UPDATED:

16:57 GMT, 22 September 2012

Rickie Lambert-inspired Southampton
produced a superb comeback to collect their first victory back in the
top flight against Aston Villa.

Saints came into the match rooted to
the bottom of the standings after four successive defeats but secured
three points on the south coast as their 30-year-old talisman netted
twice and set up another.

Hit man: Southampton's English striker Rickie Lambert equalises

Hit man: Southampton's English striker Rickie Lambert scres the equaliser

Match facts

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Fox (Richardson 46), Puncheon (Mayuka 74), Schneiderlin, Steven Davis (Ward-Prowse 79), Lallana, Lambert, Ramirez. Subs Not Used: Kelvin Davis, Rodriguez, Do Prado, Seaborne.

Booked: Clyne.

Goals: Lambert 58, Clyne 63, Clark 72 og, Lambert 90 pen.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Lichaj (Bennett 68), Holman, Ireland (Westwood 46), El Ahmadi, Bannan (Agbonlahor 68), Bent, Benteke.
Subs Not Used: Given,N'Zogbia, Bowery, Weimann.

Booked: Vlaar,Lichaj,Guzan.

Goals: Bent 36.

Att: 30,713

Ref: Jon Moss (W Yorkshire).

Latest Premier League table and results

Their miserable start to life back in the Premier League had looked set to continue after sloppy defending allowed Darren Bent to break the deadlock in the first half.

It was the 15th goal conceded by Nigel Adkins' side in just five top-flight matches but, for once, their inability to defend did not cost them.

Lambert drew the hosts level in the second half after firing home under pressure and the match turned on its head five minutes later.

Nathaniel Clyne slotted home from close range after latching on to a superb through-ball from new boy Gaston Ramirez, before Jason Puncheon saw a shot deflected in by Villa defender Ciaran Clark to make it 3-1. Lambert netted his second of the day from the spot in stoppage-time.

The big talk pre-match was about Nigel Adkins' gutsy decision to drop club captain Kelvin Davis in favour of Premier League debutant Paulo Gazzaniga.

The 20-year-old Argentinian goalkeeper joined the south coast club from Gillingham in the summer and was one of three changes made after the 6-1 hiding at Arsenal last weekend.

Hold on: Lambert celebrates

Hold on: Lambert celebrates

Recent acquisitions Maya Yoshida and
Ramirez were handed their first starts for the hosts, who were quickest
to settle at St Mary's.
Puncheon saw a neat one-two that was just too strong for Ramirez, who
then played through Lambert on the left flank only for the striker to
blaze over unbalanced.
For all of Southampton's early pressure they were being reduced to
long-range efforts, with former Villa midfielder Steven Davis and
Ramirez both screwing wide from distance.

Stunner: Jason Puncheon scores their third goal

Stunner: Jason Puncheon scores their third goal

Cool head: Nathaniel Clyne of Southampton scores despite the efforts of Ashley Westwood of Aston Villa

Cool head: Nathaniel Clyne of Southampton scores despite the efforts of Ashley Westwood of Aston Villa

Done it: Nathaniel Clyne celebrates his first goal for three years

Done it: Nathaniel Clyne celebrates his first goal for three years

The visitors had not created the same opportunities but were looking
dangerous whenever they attacked the hosts' new-look backline, with a
late lunging tackle by Jose Fonte preventing Bent.

Going forward Adam Lallana was proving Southampton's most dangerous
outlet and attempted an over-head kick during a penalty box melee on the
half-hour mark.

That was caught comfortably by Brad Guzan, and when Villa broke, Stephen Ireland's deep cross was volleyed wide by Barry Bannan.

It was a warning shot that Saints failed to heed as Bent handed Villa a 36th-minute lead.

Saints failed to clear their lines as Ireland's mis-hit shot fell to the
England international, who reacted quickly to ghost in between Yoshida
and Danny Fox to tap home.

It was just reward for Villa as their tactics of frustrating the hosts
and waiting for a mistake by their leaky defence paid dividends.

Ron Vlaar was booked as half-time approached for a trip before the break, where both sides made changes.

Ashley Westwood replaced Ireland for Villa, while Saints hauled off Fox and brought on right-back Frazer Richardson.

First up: Aston Villa's Darren Bent opens the scoring

First up: Aston Villa's Darren Bent opens the scoring

Darren Bent of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring

Darren Bent of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring

Clyne switched to the left as a result for Saints, who saw Puncheon test Guzan from an acute angle seconds after the restart.

Villa, though, were playing confidently with Bent forcing Gazzaniga into
action at his near post after latching on to a nice through ball by
Benteke.

The Belgium international was impressing on his first start and should
have extended Villa's advantage in the 50th minute, meeting a Bannan
corner with a powerful header that flew just over.

Eric Lichaj was booked for a late challenge on Morgan Schneiderlin as
Southampton pushed for an equaliser, with referee Jon Moss waving away
penalty appeals from Lambert at the resulting-free-kick, denying him a
chance at levelling from the spot.

However, the 30-year-old would not be stopped for long as he expertly
controlled a driven Lallana cross from the right and lashed home under
pressure from four Villa defenders.

The 58th-minute leveller seemed to lift a weight off the Southampton
players' shoulders as Lallana soon flashed a 25-yard effort just over,
before Clyne then snuck in to put Saints ahead.

Relief: Southampton manager Nigel Atkins

Relief: Southampton manager Nigel Atkins

Having started the move, the defender burst into the box and collected
an exquisite Ramirez ball to slot home from close range in the 63rd
minute.

Clyne was booked in the aftermath as Villa introduced Gabby Agbonlahor
and Joe Bennett in a bid to stem the flow, with the latter's first
action seeing Puncheon cut past him and curl just wide.

It was 3-1 in the 72nd minute when
Puncheon picked up the ball from Lambert and showed good control before
rifling home a shot from the edge of the six-yard box which was defended
in by Villa defender Ciaran Clark.

Puncheon received a standing ovation from the majority of the 30,713
inside St Mary's when he was substituted, with replacement Emmanuel
Mayuka curling inches wide in the 78th minute.

Mayuka saw a shot saved at the near post as the clock wound down before
he was brought down in the box by Guzan in stoppage time.

The American received a booking for the challenge and Lambert slotted
home the spot-kick to give Saints their first Premier League victory
since defeating Norwich 4-3 in April 2005.

Aston Villa beat Swansea comfortably – how did they do it?

It's turning to gold for Lambert: What went right for Villa against Swansea

|

UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 16 September 2012

Perfect days don’t come along all that often in football. But with pressure mounting on Paul Lambert to register his first Premier League victory as Aston Villa manager, his team managed to knock in-form Swansea well and truly out of their stride.

Villa Park rose as one at the final whistle to give their thanks to the Scot’s heavily-revamped and youthful side after an afternoon in which everything went right for the hosts. Here we analyse the key performers and the decisions which went Lambert’s way.

Tidy win: Paul Lambert earned his first league win at Aston Villa

Tidy win: Paul Lambert earned his first league win at Aston Villa

Brad Guzan – Villa’s manager gambled two weeks ago when he dropped Shay Given for the American. But Guzan, who was persuaded to stay by Lambert this summer, rewarded his boss with a crucial last-minute save at St James’s Park. On Saturday, he pulled off a superb save from Ashley Williams’ early header then topped it with a breathtaking stop from Nathan Dyer.

Matthew Lowton – A few eyebrows were raised when Lambert paid Sheffield United, now of League One, 3m for the right-back. Villa already had Scotland international Alan Hutton on the staff. But the defender enjoyed his own perfect day.

Not only did he score a 25-yard opener, but 20 of his family were there to see it, including his mother, Lisa, whose birthday was this weekend. Happy Birthday mum!

Peach: Matthew Lowton smashed one in from way out to open the scoring

Peach: Matthew Lowton smashed one in from way out to open the scoring

MATCH FACTS

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Guzan 7, Lowton 9, Vlaar 8, Clark 8, Lichaj 7; Holman 8, (N’Zogbia 79, 6) El Ahmadi 7, Bannan 7, Ireland 7; (Westwood 71, 6) Weimann 6, (Benteke 71, 7) Bent 6.

Subs: Given, N’Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Bowery, Bennett.

Goals: Lowton 16, Benteke 88

Booked: Clark, Lowton, Lichaj

Swansea City (4-2-3-1): Vorm 5, Rangel 7, Tate 6, Williams 5, Davies 6; Britton 6, (Shechter 79, 6) De Guzman 6; Dyer 7, Michu 5, Routledge 6; (Hernandez 58, 6) Graham 5. (Moore 71, 5)

Subs not used: Tremmel, Ki, Agustien, Richards.

Booked: Michu

Referee: L Mason – 8

Attendance: 34,005

Man of the match: Matthew Lowton

Brett Holman – The Aussie’s industry was highlighted on Match of the Day 2 during Villa’s draw at Newcastle. And he produced more of the same, setting the tempo for the hosts with his ferocious work-rate. It unsettled the Swans who were unable to dominate possession as they normally do.

Ron Vlaar – Awarded the captaincy ahead of Darren Bent, the Dutchman is fast becoming a cult hero of the Holte End. He was Feyenoord’s skipper for two seasons and already looks a force to be reckoned with.

Christian Benteke – The 8m striker from Genk ‘is a right handful,’ according to his manager. Lambert wanted a ‘physical presence’ and the 21-year-old Belgian provides that all right. Scoring the second goal will only help boost his confidence.

‘If Christian tells me it's raining, I’m inclined to believe him,’ joked Villa’s boss at the final whistle.

Confidence boost: Christian Benteke struck the second

Confidence boost: Christian Benteke struck the second

Of course, mention must be made of Lambert himself who has slashed a sluggish squad and appears to have transformed it thanks to an injection of youth and vitality.

It isn’t the finished article yet, but Villa’s fans who saw only their second win in 14 home league matches were certainly happy at the final whistle.

Finally, if it was perfect for Villa, it was less so for Swansea. Brendan Rodgers earned himself a hike up the managerial ladder last season following his success.

However, now teams are starting to develop game-plans to counter their passing style. Michael Laudrup is also trying to implement his own style. It could be a bumpy ride.

Gabriel Agbonlahor wants central role at Aston Villa

Agbonlahor demands central role as Villa ace claims rotation messed up his head last term

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UPDATED:

15:59 GMT, 11 September 2012

Gabriel Agbonlahor hopes Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert plays him in his preferred central striking role after the frustration of being used in several different positions last season.

Agbonhalor has recovered from the knee injury which forced him to miss the start of the campaign and appeared as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle before the international break.

Agbonlahor came on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle

Bench: Agbonlahor came on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle

He was used as a wide midfielder and also off the main striker by Alex McLeish during the Scot's ill-fated season in charge at Villa. Agbonlahor said: 'Last season I was being used more left midfield or off the striker and it was a different sort of formation.

'When we beat Chelsea away, I was playing in a front role – but then for the next game, at home to Swansea, I was played right midfield.

'If you don't get a run of games (in the same position) it can sort of mess your head up.

'Hopefully I can get a certain amount of games in my preferred position.'

Agbonalhor concedes he will face a battle for his place, with Darren Bent, Andreas Weimann and newcomers Christian Benteke and Jordan Bowery pushing for places up front.

He said: 'No-one is guaranteed a starting place and they're going to be coming after my place.

'That was the same when I was younger. I was going for other players' places.'