Arsenal travel to Cardiff City and hopes to continue building on the win over West Ham United last weekend, while Mesut Ozil returns to the side.
After two defeats in their opening two games of the season against Manchester City and Chelsea, Arsenal had to respond in a positive manner, and so they did against West Ham last weekend. A 3-1 win over the Hammers at the Emirates ensured Unai Emery collected his first three points as the club manager.
Now the Gunners travel to Cardiff City to face the newly promoted side, with the aim to build on last weekend’s win. The big news for Arsenal, however, is that Mesut Ozil returns to the side after missing last weekend’s win, as Unai Emery eyes a win over the struggling Welsh team.
As for Cardiff, this has not been the welcoming return to the Premier League. Neil Warnock and his men are the only side in the Premier League who are yet to score a goal, yet have managed to collect two points from goalless draws. However, Neil Warnock remains as optimistic as ever.
“You say three. I’d say 33,” “You are looking at the teams, but if you’d let it worry you too much you’d never sleep at night,” said Warnock was quizzed about the next three fixtures for Cardiff wherein they face Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. However, if Cardiff wants to have any chance against the latter two, they have to get a result against Arsenal first.
Team News & Tactics
“We’ve got to look at this as a challenge to try and create chances against the top teams. We know they will have a lot of possession and it won’t be all down to us parking the bus, because these teams have great quality.”, said Warnock during the pre-game conference. The biggest problem Cardiff has faced so far this season are goals, with none scored in their first three games.
However, with goals a significant problem, Warnock also has to contend with a few injuries in his team. Aron Gunnarsson is unlikely to recover from a knee injury until after the International break and has his hopes dashed for a link up with Iceland.
Junior Hoilett is also a significant doubt for the Arsenal game, following the groin injury suffered a few weeks ago, although the Canadian faces a late fitness test to determine his fitness. Nathaniel Mendez-Liang is Cardiff’s long-term absentee with the player ruled out for the next three months after damaging his knee ligaments.
Probable Starting-XI (4-5-1) – Etheridge; Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Ralls, Ward, Camarasa, Arter, Murphy; Zohore
Unai Emery has made some strange, yet bold decisions with his team selection for the first three games. It would be interesting to see who will feature in his starting lineup against Cardiff. However, expect the defence to be the same from last weekend’s win over West Ham.
Midfield is the focus area as Emery has plenty of options there. The Spaniard could finally find a starting spot for new signing Lucas Torreira who has so far featured from the bench and pair him with Granit Xhaka, giving Guendouzi a bench role.
Then there is a big question of accommodating Ozil and Ramsey in the same team, with Emery so far failing to adapt both players in the team adequately. Last weekend, Ramsey started in the No.10 role and with Ozil’s return it will be a tough decision for Emery, but we reckon Ozil to start.
There could finally be a start for Alexandre Lacazette after the Frenchman was instrumental in securing Arsenal their win over the Hammers last weekend. That said, it remains to be seen if Emery starts both Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang together in a game.
Probable Starting-XI (4-2-3-1) – Cech; Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
- Cardiff City have not beaten Arsenal since 1961, a run stretching over 13 games in all competitions.
- The sides have played just twice in the Premier League before with Arsenal winning both those encounters
- Neil Warnock, however, won against the Gunners in his last game against Arsenal back in 2006
- Cardiff City are the only Premier League side yet to score a goal this season.
- Matteo Guendouzi could become the fourth teenager to start each of Arsenal’s first four games of the season with the others being Nicolas Anelka, Cesc Fabregas and Johan Djourou.
1. Arsenal to win @ 1.53
2. Arsenal Team Goals Over 1.5 @ 1.57
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score anytime @ 1.66
1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score 2 or more @ 3.75
Player to Watch
There is no confirmation of the former Germany international starting for Arsenal against Cardiff yet, but if he does, then he has a big responsibility on his shoulders. At the back of stuttering form and controversy following his retirement from International football, Ozil needs to leave everything behind and focus on football for Arsenal.
That said, Arsenal haven’t started their season brightly either, as they struggled to win against West Ham last weekend. Ozil, on the other hand, has Ramsey lurking for a place in the No.10 role and the German now has to prove to his doubters that there is no one better than him in that position, starting with the Cardiff game.
Cardiff City 1-3 Arsenal
Expect Arsenal to come alive against a newly promoted opposition, considering their excellent record against such teams. Arsenal after their win over West Ham will be looking to continue that run and aim for some cohesive performances in the coming weeks. That and Unai Emery’s philosophy and style are coming together, and they have a great chance to show that against Cardiff.
Cardiff have struggled so far in the Premier League since their promotion. With no goals scored so far, they are going to find it difficult to do that against quality opposition such as Arsenal. On the other hand, expect Arsenal attackers to get the better of this Cardiff defence to win comfortably away from home.