Saturday, 30 November 2013

Cardiff vs Arsenal: Match Preview

We're back to focusing on consolidating our lead at the top of the table at the Cardiff City Stadium (innovative name, right?) where we face Cardiff, a side slowly getting known for causing upsets. They famously beat Manchester City 3-2 and drew with United just last week, so they might be entering this match with a bit of confidence.

However, it's safe to say that we are carrying two truckloads of confidence coming into this game, what with being on top and knackering Marseille and being on top and getting Ozil and being on top and having the best midfield in the league. Oh, and being on top. 

I'll find it really surprising if we do manage to slip up here, even though Cardiff are a side that might just do that. I don't think that we are going to take this fixture lightly - certainly this Arsenal side won't - but I do think that we might have to go a little out of our way to secure three points today.

I feel that if we are due to losing points in the Cardiff City Stadium, it will be down to a lack of creating chances and/or being wasteful in front of goal. Even though this team is on a high after beating Marseille and Southampton, I couldn't really help thinking that those matches could've gone either way. We didn't really create much against Southampton, and practically snatched the victory. And while we peppered the goal with shots against Marseille, it really felt more like we were facing a side that was ragged in Europe and deflated after the 30 second goal, rather than a side that were considered a competitive one and one that were set to give us a real run for our money.

I feel that people are ignoring the games in which we've failed to create an adequate amount of chances, such as against Spurs, Chelsea, West Brom, Manchester United, Dortmund, Crystal Palace, etc, simply because the final result drove the final performance out of their minds. However, at this rate, we are bound to slip up and regret not taking the chances that we created, or regret that we didn't create any chance at all.

It's pretty amazing that I'm emphasizing that a team with Cazorla, Ozil, Giroud, Wilshere and Rosicky isn't creating enough chances, but ultimately it is a fact of the matter. Granted, at the Marseille game we saw a mix of the old Arsenal which created a catalog of chances and the new Arsenal that had a mean defence, but I don't think that we are seeing enough of that this season, which needs to change. Starting today, hopefully.

In team news, we are likely to see a full strength squad, owing to the fact that the manager will look to play a lighter one against Hull in midweek. Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Gibbs are set to form the backline, a backline that really should keep a clean sheet today.

Midfield would be a problem, but a problem that Arsene would love to have. Flamini seems the only one set to keep his place, with Wenger possibly partnering him with Ramsey, giving him a reunion at Cardiff. I have said before that Ozil needs a kick in the backside, and even though he had an improved second half on Tuesday, I really don't want him to start, simply so that he gets the idea that even a player of his stature is not guaranteed a spot in the first XI.

However, Arsene Wenger seems certain to start him, which would be a mistake for me. Wilshere and Santi Cazorla would fill the wings, with Theo Walcott providing a powerful bench option. Ollie would lead the line, no question, unless he's diagnosed with Malaria in the next two hours. Or something like that.

It goes without saying that three points is not too much to ask of this side, which would pile pressure on the other England heavyweights tomorrow. And I am sure that they will deliver and produce a comfortable away victory. Even if they don't, what's the four point insurance for?

Come on Arsenal. Here's to another comfortable win, maybe?

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )