Cardiff City Preview: Take Your Boots With You

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Happy New Year to you all, let’s hope 2014 is as productive for you, yourselves and Arsenal. A new playlist is here: New Year’s Day Hoedown, accessed via the right-hand sidebar or here. You’ll be relieved to know that there is no German Death Metal Trashcore – or to give it the correct terminology, ‘crap’, included.

Cardiff City arrive at The Emirates and depending on which news outlet you believe nine or eleven first team players are out. The latter from The Heil included Oxlade-Chamberlain and Diaby who frankly had no chance of playing today. One of those mentioned as being doubtful – Thomas Vermaelen – featured in photos on the official website taking part in training so perhaps Arsène was having a joke at the media’s expense or Lazarus has a serious rival for the best comeback of all time.

Quite how much of a problem this is remains to be seen. Aaron Ramsey is out for three weeks whilst Mesut Özil won’t be doing any shoulder-popping for a while. Perhaps he has done and that is why he is seeing a specialist. Olivier Giroud in the meantime is recovering from Mike Williamson’s entirely legitimate stamp on his foot and it was entirely fair that the Frenchman’s boot should be split as was his foot, by an entirely fair passage of play. To be fair. Rosicky, Walcott and Wilshere have fitness tests (keep up, we’re up to 7 so far) with the final doubt over Nacho Monreal suffering from the same virus as Vermaelen. Which is a problem because Kieran Gibbs is definitely out.

All of which, you may wonder, leaves us where exactly. To be honest, this is the sort of fixture you would expect Arsène to rotate the squad (heavily) for. With all due respect to Cardiff, it is a similar scenario to Hull’s visit to The Emirates and, let’s be honest, we expect most of the wounded to be walking onto the turf ahead of kick-off. The line-up I imagine will be something like:

Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Monreal; Wilshere, Rosicky, Arteta; Walcott, Bendtner, Podolski 

If Monreal does not recover in time, Wenger has options. Flamini could roll back the years or more likely, Jenkinson would come into the right back slot with Sagna moving to the opposite side. For Rosicky, read Cazorla or Flamini; Walcott, Cazorla or Gnabry. It’s not quite as bad as it seems, is it?

Cardiff meanwhile, if you peel back the layers of magnificent lunacy emanating from Vincent Tan, are struggling; like all bar West Ham in the bottom six, the owner believed it best to change the manager. The Welsh club have won once in the last nine Premier League matches which points to Malky Mackay’s biggest problem beyond Tan’s ego. One win and only five goals scored on their travels is the sort of form that you would expect of teams in the relegation battle. That he had apparently being trying very publicly to remove Mackay from his post for several months suggests it had nothing to do with form. Despite some attempting to do so, Tan is not proof that Stan Kroenke is the model owner; he is just as mad as a hatter.

Arsène faced the press the day before the transfer window opened and hinted that it would be quiet, something most agree on with the World Cup next summer. Being able to cover off the injuries for a short spell – be it one match or more – is part of the aspect of squad depth but if the title challenge Wenger alluded to is to emerge. The crucial test is whether the competition which is evident in other areas of the squad, is replicated in the central striking role. It is not about replacing Giroud, it is about options, about ensuring the player is pushed every week into producing his peak of performance. The Frenchman seems highly self-motivated, perhaps it is the security of his position that drives him, allowing him to play without fear. I wonder if Arsène would have been so patient had he a second striker to choose from? Would he, for example, have been inclined to substitute Giroud if he had a more reliable replacement that Bendtner? It is idle speculation of course and there will be plenty of that in the next month, most – if not all – of it will prove to be untrue.

The best business to my mind – if he is not to sign new players and judging by his comments regarding Yaya Sanogo, a new striker seems highly unlikely – is to ensure that Sagna and Rosicky stay at the club. Of Sagna, Wenger observed that the club and player were apparently close to agreement and that he would “push hard” for a resolution on the matter. He was at pains to make sure that nobody doubted Sagna’s commitment to the club for the remainder of the season whatever the circumstances. Rosicky’s negotiations meanwhile seem low-key by comparison with little in the public domain beyond the player’s wish to stay. Or go to the MSL. And Arsenal wanting him to stay. If he makes 25 appearances. In short, nothing concrete.

It’s a sideshow. Chelsea and Manchester City both have fixtures you would expect them to win, Southampton will be trickier for Mourinho’s men but I am sure he plans to bore them into submission. Swansea meanwhile are a shadow of the side which blazed a trail last season; this time they seem settled into a mid-table run of form and despite City’s indifferent away results, there seems little real expectation of them losing. The outcome of those matches, whilst in no way irrelevant, is secondary to events at The Emirates. Arsenal are in a must-win match because they must win every match; that’s what we want, not pressure which manifests because of circumstance or opposition. It’s simply how every game should be viewed.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

268 thoughts on “Cardiff City Preview: Take Your Boots With You

  1. Plus, Irish, AW is apparently saying he’ll be out weeks after that injury. So that forces matters.

  2. Just had a quick look at our official first team over at The Arsenal website, just because of the 25 man squad rule, as I was curious who would have to drop out (if anyone) if we bought a new striker. Lo and behold, Park is still listed as a striker!! Now in all fairness he would be giving Lazarus a run for his money for ‘Greatest Ever Comeback’ if he were to pull it off but outside of that, why not offer him for free to a team that is hesitant to sell us a player we could actually use? Just a thought 🙂

  3. Great piece of journalism from the Arsenal website –

    “The goals may have come late but they reflected the scoreline.”

    Sheer genius that!!

  4. Adebayor scores yet again. The very player that AVB relegated to training with the U-18’s apparently. AVB is a fucking idiot!

  5. Happy New Years mates and good preview Yogi to start 2014!

    Didn’t get to see the match but from all the posts on here seems as though Jack and Santi looked and were the most dangerous players. Nacho looked like the player we all know he is, Theo scored again, Podolski is still getting match fit and Bendtner scored a good goal then got hurt doing so.

    I think Arsene will go striker hunting with Bendtner out for weeks and Giroud hurt.

  6. The funny thing is i actually trusted Bendtner. I thought today even without his goal he was good.

    But that injury has finished his chances because i think we will get a striker. Also i feel bad for him because now who is gonna buy him in January if he’s injured? It maybe has to be the summer for him.

    Funny thing is Arsene’s interview seemed to hint at a striker acquisition.

  7. Irish, AVB clearly was too rigid and suffered from having a very prickly personality. Spuds look more relaxed so far with Sherwood’s attacking freedom and 442. They’ve got lots of injuries too. They could claw themselves into the fight fr 4th. Hopefully they implode as usual but I’m happy for them to draw or better at OT to bring misery to United!

  8. LSG – Bollox is what it is mate. They get paid to do one thing and that is write up a match review, the least they could do is have it make sense.

  9. Yea won’t mind too much if the Spuds win but I would much rather they let in an equaliser with seconds left, as that would underminde their confidence. In as much as I would reather not have to play FA Cup games but rather concentrate on PL and CL, I still do not want to be knocked out by the Spuds. So hope we can score a few against the idiots on Wednesday, would be a nice game to throw in a new signing but never going to happen.

  10. another 3 points in the bag..
    not pretty but fuck it we’ll take it..we seem to get more points from playing like shit than what we do by trying to walk the ball into the net..go figure…
    keep fighting for those points…we are onto a winner

  11. @Limestone, Irish and Consols – happy new year to you too.

    Consols, the bundox is doing very well and the fun part about it is looking for pubs in the middle of nowhere showing EPL games. Funny enough, they almost always exclusively show Arsenal or Manure games and the rest like the Chavs and Blue Mancs are a second thought. The rivalry especially with Manure fans is really great. It tells you something when every time Arsenal play, Manure fans are shamelessly supporting the other team. They never used to bother with us you know.

    A lot to look forward in 2014 as we count down 18 games. Who else are we playing in the EPL in January?

    For the return matches against City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Manure – we just need to target a positive result – a draw being absolute minimum.

    For the rest of the teams (13 games I guess), we just have to do what we did to Cardiff, Westham, Newcastle et al and rack in the points – ugly or not.

    The belief is there my friends. After the run we’ve had in 2013 and having racked up the most number of points in the calendar year, we need to keep the focus for the remaining 18 games.

  12. I like that scenario, Irish. Deflating point away while MU suffers ignominy of only managing to get a point from a losing position at home. Sounds good to me!

  13. We can do it Darius. The tough challenge will be in late Feb and March. Check out those fixtures! Head spinning…

  14. 3 points is 3 points no matter how you get them. Defense again the star of the show. We often struggle again against a team that defends well with 9-10 men behind the ball but now we win the majority of those games. Interesting that we are currently playing Mourinho-ball that he made infamous during his first run with Chelsea. Best defense in the league keeps clean sheets and the attack figures out someway to nick a goal. Like Dukey I much prefer what we are doing now compared with the Arsenal teams of the last 7 years simply because of the results, and as we debated for years the results are the only thing that really matters..

  15. I think 2007-08 was tremendous until the kids collapsed. More Gilberto Silva and we would have seen it through. We have leadership now and can play a variety of ways. We are playing more like Invincibles than Mourinho’s teams because we aren’t so physical and we have very skilled and tricky midfield creators. But no one can deny, Bill, that defensive understanding and solidity is the key platform for our success so far.

  16. mourinho bal, bill?
    i think a certain arsenal manager got there long before mourinho did.. 🙂

    just so happens one of the key members of that side is now our assistant..now i dont like putting 2 and 2 together and getting 5 but my gut feeling is hes had a huge influence in how far weve come as a defensive unit..

    dont know what happened at city he must have had week off

  17. Then we must rack up all the humanly possible points between now and late Feb if only to give us a cushion at the top. But also bear in mind, city and the Chavs are due a bad patch of results and loss of form. Still a lot of issues in the mix.

    Let me try log onto radio and hear what the punditocracy is saying about Arsenal’s “we know how to win ugly” mentality.

  18. JJ.

    yep but we have to also thank Wenger for finally letting Bouldie do his work.!

    Irish, to be fair to avb he didn’t have ade during a transfer window!

  19. I can’t understand how Wellbeck was not booked for diving? The rule is clear, if it is a PK then he gives one and if not then it is a yellow for simulation.

  20. Darius, I said exactly that the other day. Build up a cushion just as we did ahead of Everton-City-Chelsea period. We’ve started a nice run to gobble up points and hopefully Rambo, Ozil and Giroud get a bit of a rest and come back refreshed for that period. Another striker wouldn’t hurt!

  21. Frankly the pundits have started to come around to recognizing this Arsenal gritty determination. But that won’t make us favourites, ad I’m happy not to be favoured.

  22. JJ

    The George Graham era was long before Fox Soccer channel so I could not really follow English football. Jose was the best example in my era. The reality is that the way we go about trying to nick that goal is arguably more eye pleasing then what Graham’s or Mourinho’s teams but the formula is the same.

  23. @Dukey & JJ

    Mert has played a massive part not to mention the fact that Kos and Sagna are showing the form and consistency that we expects and made them top players in the EPL.

  24. Anyone else as relieved as I am that we never signed Fellaini? Every idiot pundit was saying we should last season.

  25. It does seem as though, now that Old Red Nose is no longer manager, the under-the-counter payments to one Mr. Webb have stopped judging by the decisions he is not giving in Utd’s favor.

  26. Webb’s been transferred to Mou’s Chelsea. Never seen him this harsh against MU, ever, during te Fergie era. ManU supporters are howling in confusion!

  27. Well then, I am outta here. Gots to run some errands but great result today. Frustrating as it was, it sure as hell beats losing. And as someone did point out, we were without several regulars who are out injured and Poldi is just returning from being 4 months out. Still, fingers crossed we can bring in an experienced striker.

    COYG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. Fun day of football. Too bad City and Chelsea both won away, but all in all our victory makes it very sweet. MU humbled at home is just a nice little bonus!

  29. Bill

    its definately not the same as GG era nor is it anything like mourinho ball..
    those styles were similar in that they were defensive orientated teams with a key striker who could finish with hs eyes closed they lumped the ball to..
    and to be fair to george he only took on that tactic when he decided to sell of our best midfielder and replace him with aload of crap that we basically just bypassed..fuck knows what moureens excuse was becuase he had like a billions worth of talent…

    this footballs abit like what limey described although its not invinsible football..we defended by attacking and we were normally about 3-0 up inside 20mins against shit teams..we just took the wind out of their sails..

    this team has the possession but it does nothing with it and it gives the other team a reason to play, catch us on the break, hit us with a set piece etc etc….but we are more switched on than before, we dont conceed silly goals weve learned to actaully defend and it gives us a chance to put one of the 30 chances we have away and win…

    which is why we need a top striker…make it easier for ourselves..

    C..not just BFG..but signings such as Arteta too..we have a few more leaders out there

    Irish..felliani isnt what UTD needed..moyes just took him becuase he couldnt get cesc and ozil and he wanted a key signing for the start of his reign..although if fergie took him he’d have made it work somehow..
    Id still have him here with us..weve got a few creators we just need someone physical to replace diaby..
    id take pogba, the bender twins or jeff kondogbia, but seeing as though pogba plays for juve, kondogbia plays for monaco and sven plays for dortmund the best option could well be lars who we did apparently bid for in the summer..or we could bring mvilla out of exile.. dunno but id like someone in midfield..still keep arteta and flamini around much like rosicky but we defo need someone younger coming through..frimpongs got no chance hes fucked it and id have liked le coq to be given a go, he could save us 20mil but depends if wenger sees a future for him with him going out on loan..

  30. ManU not looking very good for a CL spot this season.

    I was one of those who really thought Fellaini would be great for us. Still a bit early to call him a bust I think, but I am very glad no one listened to me when I was screaming for us to activate his escape clause and bring him here. I really missed the target on that one.

  31. JJ:

    I don’t buy the idea that we defend by attacking. We tried that for 8 years and it didn’t work. Ball possession not equivalent to defending. We have always done the former but until March 2013 never the latter.

    t agree with you completely about the need for a clinical striker and the difference that could make. Other then Walcott we just don’t have enough goal scorers in this squad. All the creativity and possession in the world does nothing if we have someone to actually score the goal. In reality I have never been a fan of ball possession type of attacking football that we have played. We have always struggled to score against teams that park the bus. I think that counter attacking football is a much more effective way to score goals. When you counter attack the other team can’t set up its defense. The problem with having all of the possession is that you can’t counter attack unless the other team has the ball. Despite all of our great attacking talent we have never really scored as many goals as the teams above us in the table even though we had much more midfield technical skill and creativity over these last 8 years. .

  32. Maybe not a bust but could turn out to be. He was expensive and doesn’t seem to have the technical quality to thrive in an attacking side.

  33. Limestone.

    It certainly looks like that is the case and if I had to bet money I would certainly put mine down on the side of bust for fellaini

  34. I like how we played v. Liverpool and Napoli at home. We attacked well and defended well.

    What I see as different now is that we used to pass all the way around the 18 yard box without anyone putting in a cross, taking a shot from distance and looking only for a clever through ball. We keep possession but will do any of three things in three or four things in te final third: go to the byline and cut back, put in an early cross, create space at the edge and shoot, create an interplay between two or more players through the defense, or pull a reverse through ball. It makes us less predictable. One thing we could use a bit more of is the individual dribble that breaks through with speed and trickery–RvP or Suarez type play to create a shot.

  35. Bill, MU could still get 4th or something, i think, but they are pretty much out of the title frame because it would take the top three teams all collapsing in the next 18 games. No way. But Everton, Pool, Spuds could fall away enough for MU to get 4th. Hopefully it is Everton in 4th. Being outside the top 4 might stymie those teams spending and recruiting top players.

  36. Limestone.

    Every season we go thru runs where we are very effective but inevitably we also go thru long stretches where we play tippy tappy with no real effective penetration.

  37. Theo no football brain? tehe… someone needs to take a long hard look at themselves.. and apologise…

  38. I want Manu to get 4th tbh.. can’t stand the arrogance of the Liverpool supporters.. Do prefer United.. like the rivalry with them..

  39. @LSG

    I wouldn’t mind still having Gustavo just as you do to my friend. Fellani just isn’t the player that people though he was. Big bruiser but technically I don’t think he is on the level that people though he was and is more suited to playing in a side that focuses strictly on defending.

    @JJ

    Agreed! Mert seems to be the one that we can’t be without though, a real leader amongst both men and other leaders not to mention his ability and futboling IQ helps not only him but the whole of the defense, midfield included with the way he can talk them through a match and put them where they need and should be.

  40. the invinsibles defended by attacking bill..because they were that good..

    this team dont..
    we defend by defending because the attacking side is abit naff…

    well, its not naff, but its nowhere near the standard of what it used to be.

    everyone recognises that..

    theo was awesome today…created 3 on a plate chances that were headed wide or not headed at all.. and as soon as he went in the middle he scored..hes been missed this season

  41. composure is the key word, C..
    before we had too many players who hit the panic button and got shit in their knickers..
    and when you panic you make mistakes..

    the big guy has a calming influence hes like a valium for the side..

    keep your head and decide what your going to do and carry it out with conviction..instead of panicking like fuck getting caught in two minds and doing it half hearted..

  42. Agreed YW

    We are in a run of must win matches until the teams we are trying to beat slip up. That doesn’t look like happening soon, although Manure, the Spuds and the Puddle are not currently on that list.

    Interesting to think that the Puddle lost 6 points and went down to fifths spot when they played two top teams. We just dipped to 2nd (on goal difference) when we hit the same barrier, but our point advantage we had built up proved too much for the others.

    That is why these are must win games.

  43. About ManUre and a CL spot.

    Either they get their shit together soon or they have to accept defeat. Look at the teams above them, they are not letting up and beaten by Tottenham…at home.

    I hope that they are not listening, but you have to blame the gaffer. He is in over his head.

  44. We need a striker and I hope that Wenger and his cronies will get their act together and EARLY and buy a striker! if they want to throw in a left winger, go for it! But a striker is a MUST. And as great as our defense has been (sometimes) we are light in the center. I know Sagna can play CB very well BUT I CANNOT, WILL NOT, AND SHALL NOT watch Arsenal when Jenkinson plays right back. He is a nervy wreck quite and hasn’t the attacking industry to match the outlet of Sagna.

    As for options upfront….I’d go for Benteke. i know he hasn’t been in the greatest of form this season BUT the chances that giroud has fluffed this season I think Benteke would eat for breakfast and have a LOT more goals than our dear oliveir. He also has room for improvement at 23, and maybe we can get him cheaper due to his form. Hopefully Villa will cut their losses! 15-17 million and they should part company.
    He is the only target that can play champions league football. Costa i doubt will come in a world cup year, plus he is cup tied. saurez…lol enough said there. Dzeko going nowhere with aguero out for city. Lewandoski…well stranger things have happened but i can’t see it, but it would be amazing

    Any other realistic targets? i keep hearing michu but i dunno about that

  45. Ishy, when you say Jenkinson cannot ‘match’ Sagna, you are comparing him to the best right back in the Premier League and it is therefore unrealistic to expect our back up right back to be of the same quality.

    I too am more nervous with Jenkinson on the team sheet, but I will watch and support Arsenal without you when he does. I find your statement quite shocking actually… It is possible you will find yourself missing quite a few games should Sagna get injured or not re-sign.

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