Arsenal vs. Cardiff City: Match Preview

Mike Hewitt

Arsenal, down a few bodies, welcome the Blue(red)bird(dragons), or, the VioletBirdragons, to the Emirates. Vincent Tan is looking for his highest trousers.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Kickoff: 10 AM EST, Emirates Stadium, London
Televisual Pictures: Premier League Extra Time

I can't keep track of all of these Arsenal matches anymore. Something about this festive period has just caused me to lose track of everything that's going on around me, and I don't even drink. At any rate, although it feels like we've just played Cardiff City recently, they're coming back for more at the Emirates. This time, there won't be an Aaron Ramsey, and there won't be a Mesut Özil, and there mightn't be a Gibbs, Giroud, Vermaelen, Monreal, Rosicky, or Walcott, either. It's getting a little dicey.

I'm going to assume that Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal both recover from illness by tomorrow, though. I think if they both play, Per Mertesacker may get a rest, which would bring in the dreaded Mertescielny defensive tandem, unless Wenger gets buck and decides to roll out Sagna as a center half and slide Carl Jenkinson in at right back. I'd prefer he didn't do that, but then again, any back four without Mertesacker feels weird right now.

As for the midfield, things are going to get interesting fast if Rosicky can't go; this will leave Flamini, Arteta, Cazorla, and maybe Wilshere as the four healthy ones. Podolski can come in on the left, but the bench then is looking basically like Isaac Hayden and a prayer, especially if Walcott is out.

The side I'd prefer given the injuries we for sure know are coming:

Giroud/Bendtner

Podolski - Cazorla - Walcott

Arteta - Rosicky

Monreal - Koscielny - Mertesacker - Sagna

Szczesny

With, as mentioned, the possibility of a Mertesacker rest, and a totally different-looking midfield depending on who can go.

As for Cardiff, well, they're two points off of relegation, and have a -15 goal difference. They have a couple of impressive performances, but really, this should be a match that Arsenal have well in hand. Their owner is out of control, they just had their manager fired, and, well, they're Cardiff. Frazier Campbell is really good, and for a moment, they looked to cause Arsenal problems in Wales, but in the end, they didn't. Even with the injuries Arsenal have, this should be three points.

What do you think?

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