The match, Arsenal vs Cardiff, will take place this Wednesday, January 1, 2014 (7:00 AM Pacific) at the Emirates Stadium in London. Both teams want to start the year off right, and for Arsenal that means to get a victory in order to keep the first place in the Premier League. Meanwhile, Cardiff City will at least look for a tie, taking into account that they will be visiting the leader of the championship.
Arsenal arrives to the match after finishing the first half of the Premier League at the top of the table, with 42 points in 19 matches. They have won the last two matches playing away against Newcastle and West Ham, and they only lost one match playing at home; their first match in the tournament, against Aston Villa.
The Gunners‘ manager, Arsene Wegner, is facing an injury crisis, with many players out or in doubt for the game against Cardiff City. Striker Oliver Giroud -ankle problem-, midfielders Aaron Ramsey -thigh problem, out for three weeks- and Mesut Özil -shoulder-, and full-back Kieran Gibbs -calf strain- are definitely sidelined, while midfielders Tomas Rosicky -calf-, Jack Wilshere -ankle-, and striker Theo Walcott -shoulder- are in doubt.
Furthermore, defenders Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen aren’t sure to be ready to play, since they both come back from an illness. When asked about who will be the choice in attack (it may be Lucas Podolski or Nicklas Bendtner), Wegner said: “I have to see how I can balance the team because I have to consider as well who else is out and how can I get a balanced team out there” [source: The Guardian].
On the other hand, Cardiff City is on the 16th place, only two points above the relegation zone. They have won four matches in the first half of the season, and one of their last nine games; five losses and three ties. Moreover, they have won only one match playing away -five losses-, and it was against Fulham, one of the worst teams of the season. Malky Mackay, their ex-manager, was fired days ago due to the bad performances, after losing at home 0-3 against Southampton.
Cardiff City caretaker manager and Mackay’s former assistant, David Kerslake, believes that they can get a good result in London: “We know Arsenal are one of the finest sides in Europe, but we will go there with no fear and in good spirits” [source: Wales Online]. He also has distanced himself from the permanent coach position: “I’ve been a coach now for pushing 10 years. I love what I do, I love being on the grass with the players so I’m happy doing that” [source: SNTV]. In addition, he supported Cardiff City players: “Whoever comes in as manager will inherit a wonderful group of players at a place where support is second to none”. [source: Wales Online]
Arsenal and Cardiff City played only 8 times in the last 40 years (5 games in the FA Cup, 2 in the League Cup, and the last one on November 30 in the Premier League, in which Arsenal won by 0-3). The Gunners remain unbeaten in the last 12 matches between them, with 7 wins and 5 ties. The last victory of the bluebirds was in 1961, in a match of the Division One tournament; in that game, Cardiff City won by 2-3 at the old Highbury stadium.
Arsenal vs Cardiff City Prediction
Despite the many key players that will not play due to injuries, Arsenal is still the favorite team to win this match. They have already beaten Cardiff City by 0-3 in the first half of the tournament, and playing at home they’re even more likely to win. However, I think they will not have an easy match against Cardiff City, because the bluebirds‘ players want to improve their performance after Malky Mackay dismissal. The Arsenal vs Cardiff City match will end in a 1-1 tie.
Arsenal vs Cardiff City TV Schedule
The Arsenal vs Cardiff City match will be televised this Wednesday, December 1, 2014 on Premier League Extra Time and NBC Sports Live (online) at 7:00 AM Pacific.