Cardiff vs Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
Cardiff City Stadium
Kick off: November 30, 2013 3:00 PM GMT
It is fair to say that Arsenal’s slip up against Manchester United before the international break is firmly behind them with the Gunners registering consecutive wins against Southampton and Marseille. The Gunners now have the opportunity to go seven points clear in the Premier League temporarily on Saturday night, but as we have found this campaign any team can steal points from any other team with the gap in quality between all sides in the league much narrower than in previous seasons.
In terms of team news, the only news of any significance is the return of Kieran Gibbs who has recovered from the illness which kept him out of the Marseille tie. The Englishman will be expected to slot straight back in to the starting line-up at the expense of Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard should count himself a little unlucky, especially after putting in a solid performance in the Champions League in midweek, but with Gibbs in such good form right now it was always going to be tough to overtake the Englishman.
As has become so common with the Arsenal side, it is hard to pick the starting eleven Arsene will field. As usual, the back-line, goalkeeper and striker are likely to remain the same, but there is always the opportunity for rotation in midfield. It is relatively certain however that Welshman Aaron Ramsey will selected to face his former club and is expected to receive a good reception from the Cardiff crowd.
While Ramsey remains a certainty, the other spots in midfield could be given to a number of players. Looking at some fans’ opinions there is some argument over Ozil being given a rest, but personally I think he will be started. In defensive midfield there is a tough choice between selecting Flamini or Arteta. Personally I would like to see Flamini start as although he does not having the range of distribution of Arteta his combative and commanding style is likely to come in handy in this match.
Looking at the flanks, you would be hard pressed to find Wilshere on the bench based on form. The Englishman grabbed himself a brace and man-of-the-match in midweek. While Wenger has made a point of saying he wants to use Wilshere cautiously this season, the Englishman has recently rubbished talks of inury so there is a good chance he will retain his role out wide. That leaves Cazorla, Rosicky and Walcott with the former rested in midweek and the latter yet to reach full match-fitness. Personally, I am leaning toward Cazorla to regain his starting berth with Walcott featuring later in the match.
In terms of Cardiff, based on form they seem very much beatable after only securing a solitary win in their last six Premier League matches. They do have a point of turning up in the bigger matches however with the newly promoted side earning a well deserved point against Manchester United last game-week and also beating Manchester City on the opening weekend. Arsenal should be weary of their front-line which does have some bite boasting the likes of Bellamy, Odemwingie and Frazier Campbell with the Welsh team likely to be buoyed by their home fans who will no doubt be in full-voice.
Overall, as with every match in this campaign there is no room for complacency. As with the Marseille match, if we are on top of our game it should result in victory. On the Welsh clubs home turf however, the first quarter of an hour is likely to be crucial to the remainder of the match. Hopefully the Gunners can stamp out the effects of the crowd in these early exchanges and hopefully secure an early goal. However if Cardiff manage to steal one early we could be in for a nervy match. COYG!
Arsenal: Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Sanogo (back), Podolski (hamstring), Diaby (knee)
|Arsenal 2 – Olympique de Marseille 0||UCL||Cardiff City 2 – Man Utd. 2||EPL|
|Arsenal 2 – Southampton 0||EPL||Aston Villa 2 – Cardiff City 0||EPL|
|Man. United 1 – Arsenal FC 0||BPL||Cardiff City 1 – Swansea 0||EPL|
|B. Dortmund 0 – Arsenal FC 1||UCL||Norwich City 0 – Cardiff City 0||EPL|
|Arsenal FC 2 – Liverpool 0||BPL||Chelsea FC 4 – Cardiff City 1||EPL|
Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker (c) Gibbs
Cardiff 1 Arsenal 3