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PREVIEW: Arsenal v Cardiff: Injury Latest, Preferred XI + Prediction
Arsenal kick off the New Year when we entertain Cardiff City at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
A 1-0 win away at Newcastle on Sunday ensured we ended 2013 on top of the Premier League but with Man City and Chelsea breathing down our necks, we’ll need a win over Cardiff to make sure we’re still at the summit following the first round of 2014 fixtures.
The injury concerns are mounting with up to 12 players potentially unavailable for the game, so it’s safe to say our squad is going to be stretched to it’s limit’s.
Cardiff arrive in north London without a manager following the disgraceful sacking of Malky Mackay but there’s no room for sentiment in football so I hope the fact the club is in disarray counts against them on New Years Day and the players don’t find a ‘worldy’ performance in them for stand-in boss David Kerslake.
As previously mentioned, we have a mounting injury list. Aaron Ramsey is out for three weeks with a thigh strain while Mesut Ozil is also out with a shoulder problem.
Kieran Gibbs and Olivier Giroud are the latest casualties after the duo picked up injuries against Newcastle, and Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen remain doubts after missing the clash at St James’ with illness.
The duo will have last fitness tests and fingers crossed Monreal is past fit as otherwise we may have to deploy Carl Jenkinson at left-back, or move Sagna over with Jenks played on the right.
Arsene Wenger also confirmed this morning that Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott are all doubts after picking up knocks. If they don’t make it, Serge Gnabry is likely to start on the right with Lukas Podolski making his first start in over four months on the left.
Giroud’s absence means Nicklas Bendtner is almost certain to start up front. The ‘Great Dane’ has looked pretty sharp when he’s come off the bench so hopefully he can do a job against Cardiff.
As I say, if Monreal doesn’t make it we’ll see Jenkinson come in to the defence while Gnabry/Rosicky/Wilshere could replace Theo on the right depending on who’s passed fit.
Despite our ridiculous injury situation, we’re still able to field an 11 that should beat Cardiff at home. If the above team starts I can see it being 2 or 3-0, but if Walcott’s missing and a youngster like Gnabry has to play, it might be a little more difficult.
Arsenal 2-0 Cardiff