Written by @GrantMilesFF
Arsenal will head into this fixture with a spring in their step, buoyed by their 1-0 victory against Newcastle last time out.
Cardiff had contrasting fortunes against North East opposition as they conceded a last minute equaliser against Sunderland to draw 2-2, but will hope to provide signs of encouragement for a new boss who will come in.
Wenger’s charges have won their last three matches and will be hoping that 2014 is the year where they can finally end their trophy drought and push on in their search for silverware. Cardiff, meanwhile, are looking over their shoulders, three points from the relegation zone.
The last time these two sides met both sides ended up giving Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey a standing ovation as the Gunners emerged with a 2-0 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The Gunners will have to make do without their Welsh talisman this time as he is still recovering from the thigh injury he suffered against West Ham. Arsenal are also without £42.5 million record signing Mesut Ozil as is set for a three week spell on the sidelines with a shoulder injury. Kieran Gibbs also remains unavailable with a hamstring injury whilst Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal both miss out due to illness.
David Kerslake remains Caretaker manager for now at Cardiff and doesn’t have t00 many injuries to contend with for the trip to the Emirates. Andrew Taylor is 50/50, he is expected to have a late fitness test after suffering a knock. Craig Bellamy is also unlikely to make it due to a knee injury. The Bluebirds are expected to name an unchanged line up to the one that faced Sunderland.
Arsene Wenger will fully expect his side to deliver a routine victory against a Cardiff side in desperate need of a tonic. Both sides will be looking to boost their prospects at either ends of the table at the start of 2014, but Arsenal are expected to take all three points.
Arsenal v Cardiff City Pre-Match Stats
Arsenal are unbeaten in the last 12 matches in all competitions against Cardiff City, winning seven and drawing five.
Cardiff are unbeaten in three league trips to Arsenal (W1 D2), though the most recent of these came back in 1962.
Arsenal have only scored 16 times in nine Premier League home games this season.
Only Everton have conceded as few goals as Arsenal (18) this season in the top-flight.
Only 18 different players have started a Premier League game for Cardiff this season, fewer than at any other Premier League club.
Arsenal have the best shooting accuracy (54.5%) and Cardiff the worst (35.7%) in the Premier League this season.
Cardiff have fashioned more attempts from indirect free-kick moves than any other side this season (20 – almost three times as many as Arsenal (7))
Arsenal’s substitutes have provided four assists this season, more than any other team.
The Gunners have conceded fewer fouls than any other Premier League team this season (184) but seven clubs have received fewer yellow cards.
Of the seven players to have picked up a league-high six yellow cards in the Premier League this season, Mathieu Flamini has committed the fewest fouls (13).