29th November 2013
Having already prevented the Manchester rivals from winning at their home ground, Cardiff City will be aiming for more of the same when they host Premier League leaders Arsenal on Saturday afternoon. The Gunners moved four points clear with a hard-fought triumph over Southampton, and they will fancy their chances of winning in Wales.
Cardiff City may be fighting for Premiership survival, but they have done surprisingly well to match some of league’s best sides on home soil. And while they haven’t always been impressive in front of home fans, losing to Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United, the Bluebirds produced a stunning performance to defeat Manchester City, before holding reigning champions Manchester United to a 2-2 draw last weekend. Even if some would say Malky Mackay’s side were fortunate to score a late equalizer, the reality is they fully deserved one point from the match for a pretty decent performance. It now remains to be seen if the Bluebirds can repeat the showing against leaders Arsenal, who have won four of six away matches this term. But, with Cardiff buoyed by the excellent result against the reigning champions, chances are the hosts will adopt another positive approach in an attempt to move further away from the relegation zone. With injury worry Rudy Gestede leaving the club to join Blackburn Rovers on loan, boss Malky Mackay has absolutely no selection problems ahead of the Arsenal game.
With their advantage at the top having melted to just two points following the 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford and players returning from international break, Arsenal desperately needed to beat high-flying Southampton and remain on course for the league title. And even if they got a big help from opposition keeper Artur Boruc, the Gunners did well to increase their lead to four points, meaning they arrive in Cardiff brimming with confidence. Arsenal also made a giant step towards winning the first place in the Champions League group of death with a strong performance against Marseille, with Jack Wilshere scoring a brace to prove he is slowly returning to his best. The biggest issue at the moment is the poor form of summer signing Mesut Ozil, but the Gunners have quite a few players ready to take over creative duties should the German again produce an under-par display. Theo Walcott is slowly building his fitness after returning from a lengthy injury lay-off, but Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continue to miss out. All things considered, the Gunners look like favourites to win this one, although we can rule out a comfortable triumph.
Cardiff City have been showing a lot of improvement up front, especially in home games and I can definitely see them putting one past tired Arsenal. Meanwhile, the Gunners continue to impress on all fronts and they are closer to claiming maximum points in Wales.
Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 5/6