Cardiff Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups
The Premier League, unlike other top flight football leagues in Europe, is a very unforgiving league. The fixtures are coming thick and fast and the Gunners have a simple task of hosting Cardiff City, a team in turmoil following the off the field shenanigans between their owner, Vincent Tan, and the previous manager, Malky Mackay.
The Bluebirds are currently in 16th place, just four points of the drop and it seems really bleak for the Welsh outfit. With the January transfer window finally open, Arsene Wenger has been tipped to delve into the club’s cheque book to sign a player or two that would help with the team’s surge for their first league title win in 10 years.
“We are like many clubs, certainly (we are) on alert, if something special turns up we will not turn it down, but we are not as well desperate because we have a big depth in our squad.
“We have shown that because our midfield at West Ham and at Newcastle was completely different, we changed three players and we still managed to have a very strong team. I am quite confident with our squad.” -Wenger
Olivier Giroud was also on the news recently, stating that he’s hoping for the club not to invest in a new striker, instead they should explore options with Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott in attack. Many might be in agreement with Giroud because of his importance to the team, and a new striker could take a while to get a hang of things but a considerable chunk of the Arsenal supporters need a new center forward because Giroud can’t be trusted to hit the back of the net on a consistent basis.
C’mon, he just came off the lengthy goal drought and when he was afforded a chance to score his second on the night, he fluffed it like an amateur Sunday league player.
Arsenal are unbeaten in the past 12 matches in all competitions against Cardiff with seven wins and five draws, since a home defeat in February 1961 and this is the second time the two clubs have met on New Year’s Day. Arsenal won 3-2 at Highbury in an old Division One clash in 1927.
Arsene Wenger’s table-topping side collected a league-high 82 league points (W25, D7, L6) in 2013 and Arsene Wenger’s men share the record for fewest Premier League goals conceded (18) and most clean sheets (8) this season.
It’s also worth noting that Arsenal have the best shooting accuracy (54.5%) in the Premier League this season, whereas Cardiff have the worst (35.7%). Cardiff are in a very poor run of form, and have recorded only one league win in nine games. Cardiff City have conceded 11 goals in the last 15 minutes of league games this season, the second worst in the division (after Fulham, with 13). Arsenal have scored 10, the joint most.
To injury news, Giroud is not going to feature in today’s game as he’s nursing a foot injury but he’s odds on to make a comeback in the crucial FA Cup third round clash against Tottenham this weekend. Full-back Kieran Gibbs (calf) is sidelined, while midfielder Aaron Ramsey (thigh) will be out for around three weeks and the full extent of German playmaker Mesut Ozil’s shoulder problem is still being assessed, so the news several other key men were able to train on Tuesday will have come a timely boost.
There will be fitness tests for Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere that are believed to have had some minor injury concerns in the game against Newcastle.
Cardiff are without Craig Bellamy because of a knee problem, while Declan John is expected to continue in place of injured left-back Andrew Taylor.
My predicted lineups would be,
Arsenal have not lost at home on New Year’s Day for 29 years. I don’t believe that the record would be broken today.
Happy New Year everybody.
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