Aston Villa have been given a lift before Saturday's clash with Arsenal: Darren Bent returned to training this week, and will be available for the match. Eric Lichaj -- who I thought was just bad, not suffering a leg injury -- has also recovered. But Joe Bennett, Charles N'Zogbia and Chris Herd are all still missing, as is Richard Dunne, who's reached the stage where his face needs to be put on a milk carton.
Obviously it's Bent's return that most intrigues Aston Villa supporters. Had he returned last week against Manchester City, there's no way he would have started. But after the 5-0 defeat, it's quite possible Paul Lambert (who, remember, will not be on the touchline) wants to shake things up against Arsenal. That could well include replacing Christian Benteke with Bent, or even using both up front, dropping Andreas Weimann and finding a different slot for Gabby Agbonlahor.
But Lambert seems smart enough to not engage in knee-jerk reactions. I think he knows that it's more the circumstances of the City match, rather than the style of play, that led to such a dramatic defeat. The formation he's putting out is looking lively in attack, and they need a strong match to build their confidence.
In light of this news, what seems most logical and likely is that we'll see Bent come in off the bench. That will give Villa some options if things aren't going so great, and it'll give him a chance to prove himself once again. But I've been wrong before -- what do you guys think?