Time for Arsenal to up their goal difference against Cardiff

By Avenell Dave

There are few games that are a gimme each season.

Even when Arsenal played the likes of Bradford and Blackburn, teams from the north playing at a far lower level, we managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

But there has been plenty of talk about the red zone recently, where players such as Aaron Ramsey and even possibly Mesut Ozil, get injured while fatigued after a long and intense period of play without rest which affects fitness as much as it does form.

The list of injuries Arsene Wenger spoke about yesterday underlines the challenge of having a squad that lacks the strength in depth - but if you want to be playing anyone, perhaps Cardiff at home in their current flux is a good start.

Cardiff are in disarray thanks to their mad Kim Jong-Il-style leader Vincent Tan who seems to wear sunglasses at night (something no one but the Rod Stewart lookalike who sits near me at the Emirates can ever get away with).

Letting in two late goals at home against Sunderland will have demoralised an already disrupted team whose owner will never know the value of stability or the quality of the job Malky Mackay did for him.

We won in Wales fairly easily just a few weeks ago but, and I hate to harp back to it, the home defeat against Hull a few years ago continues to scar me and we can take nothing for granted.

That said, if there is a game when players could reasonably be rested and we still put in a decent shift, Cardiff at home at the moment is probably it.

Let's hope Nacho Monreal is well enough to perform with Gibbs certainly out - and the England man needed a break anyway and it is a shame Thomas Vermaelen is also a doubt with Per Mertesacker needing a rest. Mathieu Flamini will have to play at left back, as he did so well in our Champions League final year of 2006 if neither regular left back is available.

With Theo Walcott also a doubt, I'd have no hesitation throwing in Serge Gnabry, who showed against Swansea that he can do a decent job so why not give him an outing?

Despite his goal, Olivier Giroud still flatters to deceive and with his niggle, perhaps now is the time to give Lukas Podolski a game in a central position - and I have to wonder if the reluctance to bring the German on at Newcastle was with one eye on this game.

I was shocked to read that we have scored only 16 goals in nine Premier League games at home this season. 

Cardiff have let in at least two goals in seven of the past nine games and with our goal difference 14 worse than Manchester City, tonight will be the perfect time to address that somewhat.

Of course, if Nik Bendtner plays well and scores a few, it may have the consequence of persuading Arsene Wenger not to sign a new striker that we all know we desperately need. It's a double-edged sword.

Not beating Cardiff would be a terrible start to the year and we have to ensure we are focused instead of thinking about the weekend and a North London Derby.

Addict XI (ideal if well)


Jenkinson Koscielny Vermaelen Monreal

Flamini Wilshere Rosicky

Gnabry Podolski Cazorla