Paul Merson today urged Villa to ignore the scare stories and upset the establishment at Arsenal.
The former claret and blue and Gunners star reckons Villa can steal a result at the Emirates in tomorrow’s Premier League opener.
Villa’s last win at Arsenal came in 2011 when two Darren Bent goals earned them a 2-1 victory.
Bent is set for Fulham on a season-long loan to ease the club’s wage bill and Christian Benteke will lead the line, after being linked to the Gunners in the summer.
Villa go to Chelsea on Wednesday and host Liverpool next Saturday in a daunting first week after their Stamford Bridge trip was rearranged due to the Blues’ Super Cup commitments.
Merson admitted they face a mammoth task but must not give into any fears.
“You don’t want to be Aston Villa going to Arsenal first game of the season,” said Merson, who made 145 appearances for Villa, scoring 19 goals, between 1998 and 2002.
“I know people say you’ve got to play there and all that, but to be honest you’d rather be playing Cardiff at home than Arsenal away.
“If you get a good hiding the fans will travel back up to Birmingham and think ‘here we go again’ and that’s how quickly it goes.
“If they could nick something that would be great for them. It would give them a chance when they play Chelsea and Liverpool.
“It’s a tough start for them and they certainly could have had it easier, but Paul Lambert will not want to scare them.
“He’ll tell them they’ve got a chance, and they have got a chance.”
Villa have a decent record at the Emirates having won two, drawn two and lost four of their eight trips to the Gunners since they moved from Highbury in 2006.
They were the first team to play there in the Premier League – nabbing a 1-1 draw on the opening day of the 2006-07 season. Olof Mellberg scored the first competitive goal at the venue – the first top-flight strike of Martin O’Neill’s reign – before Gilberto levelled late on.
And Merson insisted it is not mission impossible for the claret and blues.
“They played there when the Emirates opened and no-one gave them a chance that day,” he said.
“They went 1-0 up, Mellberg scored, and it finished in a draw which was a great result for Villa. They’ve won there a couple of times so it’s not impossible.
“It will be a very difficult start. You always want to get off to a flyer. It gives the fans more enthusiasm.
“There’s a lot of confidence at Villa at the moment from the way they finished last season and some of the things they have done this summer, and they want to keep that going.
“All teams, especially young teams like Villa, need points early or you find yourself in September looking up at everyone else.”
Villa’s international players emerged unscathed from the mid-week fixtures with Christian Benteke playing half an hour of Belgium’s 0-0 draw with France.
Brad Guzan and Ron Vlaar were unused substitutes for the USA and Holland while Andi Weimann played as Austria lost 2-0 to Greece.
Chris Herd is out with a calf problem and Charles N’Zogbia is a long-term absentee with his Achilles injury.
Otherwise Lambert has a full squad, with the exception of outcasts Stephen Ireland, Barry Bannan, Shay Given and Alan Hutton.
New-boy Jores Okore could feature if Lambert feels he is sharp enough after missing a month of pre-season with a hamstring injury. Nathan Baker will start if not.
Lambert said: “Jores hasn’t played a lot of games because of injury and I’ll decide today. He’s been excellent in the time he’s been here but he’s short of match practice.”
Gunners defenders Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen (both back) are out and Bacary Sagna is a major doubt with an ankle injury.
Arsenal are waiting on Theo Walcott, who scored in England’s 3-2 win over Scotland on Wednesday, after he came off with a swollen knee.
“Hopefully, fingers crossed, I’ll be alright,” he said. “Everyone dreads pre-season so this is the most important time. This is a big year for Arsenal and myself.”
Arsenal are yet to make a summer signing and failed with two bids for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and also missed out on Gonzalo Higuain to Napoli.
The Gunners were expected to spend big to try to end their eight-year trophy drought but Lambert backed boss Arsene Wenger to deliver.
He said: “Arsene is a great manager, with a great team and a great stadium, they have everything there. He’ll know best for Arsenal. He might bring someone in before the game. They are still a good side. He certainly knows what he’s doing and has fabulous players.”