Arsenal resume Premier League action with their game against Cardiff City on Tuesday as they look to put more pressure on fourth-placed Chelsea.
Arsenal are back in Premier League action after a difficult few days which saw them crash out of the FA Cup at the hands of Manchester United as well as suffer more injuries. The Gunners had gone into the cup game on the back of an impressive win over Chelsea and will look to keep that momentum going in the league to put more pressure on the Blues.
The Manchester United game, however, saw Arsenal suffer more on the injury front, with two of their first-choice defenders picking up injuries. The game against Cardiff has more significance now, as Arsenal know they need all three points to ensure their chase for a top four spot remains on track.
Cardiff enter into this game amid tragic times. Record transfer, Emiliano Sala who was signed from Nantes, has been missing since the plane carrying him went missing. With the Argentine yet to be traced, manager Neil Warnock has admitted that many of his players had been affected by the incident, despite Sala not even training once with the team.
Warnock would want his side to respond to the tragedy and collect three points against the inconsistent Arsenal side. His own team’s form though, will be a concern for the manager, with the Bluebirds dropping into the relegation zone following their 3-0 loss to Newcastle United.
Team News & Tactics
Just when it looked like Arsenal’s defensive injury crisis was coming to an end, the Gunners lost first-choice right-back Hector Bellerin to a season-ending injury against Chelsea. The North Londoners were dealt a further blow against Manchester United when they lost centre-backs Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis Papastathopoulos to injuries during the game.
Sokratis is now set to miss a month with an ankle problem, and although Koscielny was cleared of a suspected broken jaw, the Frenchman will undoubtedly miss the Cardiff game. That could pave the way for Shkodran Mustafi to make his back into the starting lineup after some underwhelming displays since returning from injury.
The German defender could be partnered by Nacho Monreal at the heart of the Arsenal defence, while Granit Xhaka might drop into the backline as well, in what is likely to be be a back-three. Xhaka’s role in defence would see Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira line up in midfield, with Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles being the full-backs.
In more positive news, playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set to return from the foot injury he suffered last month, although he is still unlikely to be included in the starting lineup just yet. Mesut Ozil has a chance to start after featuring off the bench against Manchester United after a brief period in exile.
But, Aaron Ramsey is expected to continue in his stead, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are likely to retain their places.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Leno; Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka; Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Torreira, Gurndouzi; Ramsey, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Neil Warnock does not have many injury problems heading into the game against Arsenal. The only absentee in the side from recent games is captain Sean Morrison, who is recovering after an appendix operation and is expected to be out for a while.
Morrison is likely to be replaced by Bruno Ecuele Manga in the central defensive partnership, that will also feature Sol Bamba. In the middle of the park, on-loan Real Betis midfielder Victor Camarasa is likely to be partners by Joe Ralls and Harry Arter.
Upfront, on-loan Senegalese striker Oumar Niasse will lead the line for Cardiff City, with Callum Paterson afforded a rest. Junior Hoilett and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing should be the wide men for the visitors.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Etheridge; Peltier, Bamba, Manga, Bennett; Mendez-Laing, Arter, Camarasa, Ralls, Hoilett; Niasse
- Arsenal have won all three of their Premier League meetings with Cardiff City, scoring eight goals and conceding two.
- Six of Arsenal’s eight Premier League goals against Cardiff have come in the second half, with five of those coming in the last 10 minutes.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in 11 home league games (W9 D2), winning the last five in a row.
- The Bluebirds are the only side yet to be leading at half-time in any of their Premier League games this season.
- Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have each scored four Premier League goals against promoted sides this season.
Player to Watch
Many Arsenal fans were pointing at Mustafi as Manchester United scored twice after he came on in a game that was well balanced before Sokratis’ injury. Mustafi did start the season strongly, but has since fallen off the grid with some below-par performances. Some injuries last month and his subsequent return has not made matters any better, as the German has lost the confidence of his manager and fans.
With Arsenal suffering on the defensive front yet again, it will be a test of character for the German to prove his worth to the club and its fans with some strong performances, starting with Cardiff. Mustafi needs to be the leader at the back and show Emery that he still has what it takes to succeed at a club like Arsenal.
Arsenal 3-1 Cardiff City
Arsenal are overwhelming favourites to win this game by a good margin. Given their recent struggles with injuries to their backline, the Gunners still have the necessary quality of players to man the defence and ensure a good result. The prediction is based on how Arsenal perform in attack given their abundance of talent on this front.
The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette will be relishing an opportunity to continue among the scorers and provide a clinical display, as the Gunners continue chasing Champions League football. Cardiff might be able to nudge in a goal, but Arsenal will likely collect all three points against the relegation-threatened side.