Writer: Galway Gooner
Date:Tuesday December 31 2013
Top of world ma! Top of the world!
That`s how I`m feeling today after the most uncomfortable last 15-20 minutes of a game in a long time. The thing with this current Arsenal team, as opposed to Arsenal sides from times past, is that we are comfortable holding a lead. Yes we changed our formation (Gibbs injury the most likely cause) and invited Newcastle onto us but really, despite it being uncomfortable viewing, they never really looked like scoring and really resorted to lumping the ball into the box where the quite simply excellent Kos and Mert dealt with pretty easily. A lovely 1-0 to The Arsenal and back top of the league we go.
No rest for the wicked and we are back at it again on Wednesday when in our 3rd game in less than a week we take on Cardiff at home. It`s a little over a month since we played Cardiff in Wales and returned home with 3 delicious points courtesy of a 0-3 win and in that month they`ve lost their manager and also lost their way somewhat. Since games since have yield one win (1-0 home to West Brom), 2 draws and 3 defeats. Worryingly for them their point return per game has dropped over 1.08 (one month ago) to 0.94 now and in the game since our last meeting has plummeted to 0.41. That my friends in relegation form and unless they spend big in January and get in a manager with some level of experience then I`d fear for them in the second half of the season. (I`m not going to do a full Scout Report on Cardiff as the one from late November still applies, you can read it here
if you want)
Mckay was, I feel, doing a pretty good job with what he had. The team had a solid structure and worked hard and had done well at home against some big teams. However Tan (their ever so slightly eccentric owner) felt that he had overspent his budget and so got rid. Fair enough as he pays the bills but it does leave Cardiff in a very difficult situation. The team is currently without a manager and also because of Tan without any real assistant manager. Moral in the camp must be pretty low and really I`d imagine that a few of their players are looking at the way the club is being run and thinking that maybe they`d be better off out.
I`ll be honest in that I haven`t really seen much of Cardiff over the past few weeks but still believe that they have kept their 4-1-4-1 formation. Previous to us they had a pretty solid backline that didn`t give away goals but from our game on their defence has been breached with ease and they`ve conceded an average of 2 goals a game. Cualker, despite being an ex-Spud deservers to be playing at a better club and if Cardiff get relegated expect some far bigger clubs to come sniffing around him, I could even see Spurs buying him back as he`s better than most of what they have. Caulker`s performances have dropped off of late but he`s young and is dealing with a very difficult set of circumstances. Turner is maybe just a few years too old to have made the step up and his lack of space is being exposed with increasingly regularity.
Just in front of these two Medel still patrols around looking for danger but he has lost a bit of the spark that he had earlier in the season. Maybe it`s due to all the instability and uncertainty at the club or maybe he`s just a player who is now struggling to adapt to the relentlessness of the Premier League, he puts a lot of miles into each game and I think it`s beginning to show. The rest of the midfield is pretty average and without the home crowd offering up encouragement I can`t see them really being able to deal with us.
Up front scoring goals was always going to be tight but of late Cardiff have lost their shooting boots entirely and 4 goals in the last 7 league games must be a real worry for them. After us they have a crucial home game against West Ham followed by trips to both Manchester clubs, points in this run of fixtures are going to be difficult to find.
Their away form has been poor so far with only one win on the road and a return of just 6 points from the available 27 and only 1 point on the road from the last 3 games. Nothing suggests that there will be any improvement on this on Wednesday.
I think we will be facing a team low on confidence and with team spirit far lower than it was just 5 weeks ago. Cardiff know now that they will be really up against it just to stay in the Premier League and a harsh energy sapping reality of the Christmas fixture pileup combined with losing a popular manager has really caught up to them. Just 5 short weeks ago I would have felt that they had a real chance of staying up but a poor run of results combined with improved form from some of the bottom teams have really tightened it up down there. It may be close at the top of the table but it will be even closer at the other end!
Cardiff will come and scrap for a point and I think they will be competitive up until the first goal goes in, once that does the fight will go out of them and I can see us winning easily. I really hope that Wenger gives Giroud a rest (we need him to beat Spurs at the weekend!) and allows Bendy to show us what he can do! Jack is likely to continue to work his way back towards some level of form and Carzola will be our creative outlet as I can`t see Wenger risking ThomasR again with another game at the weekend. I haven`t heard on Moneral but I`m sure he`s recovered from his illness and will likely fill in for the injured Gibbs. In the middle of the back line I think it`s a perfect game to allow Verm some more game time and rest Mert but I`m not sure if Wenger will take the risk, starting both Arteta and Flamini maybe an option that would allow our BFG some down time. If Bendy starts put money down on him to score and the Gunners come out on top again.
Arsenal win, 3-0.
Date:Tuesday December 31 2013
Match Discussion - Bayern Munich (a) (Monday March 10 2014)
It's Now Or Never As Wigan Stun City (Sunday March 9 2014)
City or Wigan In The Semi-Final - Cheers Wrighty (Sunday March 9 2014)
Regenerated Ozil Gets Down & Dirty (Sunday March 9 2014)
Would You Want van Persie Back? (Sunday March 9 2014)
Wenger: We Take The FA Cup Seriously (Sunday March 9 2014)
Arsenal 4 Everton 1 (Saturday March 8 2014)
Stats: Arsenal v Everton (Saturday March 8 2014)
Team News: Arsenal vs Everton (FA Cup) (Saturday March 8 2014)
Wenger Confident Of World Cup Fitness For Jack (Saturday March 8 2014)
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