Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud will miss the Cardiff game with an ankle injury. Reuters
A gutsy, we-will-come-away-with-three-points-no-matter-what performance from Arsenal on Sunday ensured they would end the year 2013 as the English Premier League leaders, and now the North London side will want to begin 2014 on a positive note when Cardiff City come to visit at the Emirates on New Year's Day.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for an 8.30 pm IST start with live coverage on Star Sports HD1. The match can also be live streamed online HERE. US viewers can catch all the action HERE, while UK viewers can go HERE. To watch the match via live streaming in the Middle East and North Africa, click HERE, while the rest of Africa viewers can click HERE. The game can also be live streamed in Australia HERE.
The Gunners currently lead the Premier League table by one point from Manchester City, who can go top if they get at least a point at Swansea in the early game on Wednesday.
The target for 2014 for Arsenal will be sustaining the form shown in the previous calendar year, where they picked up five points more than any other side.
While there are no prizes for finishing top of a calendar year, one thing that will please Arsene Wenger is the consistency shown by his side over the past 12 months, the kind of form which has given his side a real chance of finally ending that Premier League drought.
Arsenal showed on Sunday they can win ugly, coming through a difficult, cagey encounter at St. James' Park against Newcastle 1-0. "We played against a good team who made it very physical for us," Wenger told Arsenal Player after the Newcastle win on Sunday. "They tried to stop us at any cost and we controlled the game technically quite well until we scored the goal.
"After that we had a chance to score the second and then suddenly we have refused to play and just wanted to protect the score. But we did that with another aspect of our team, the solidarity, togetherness and fighting spirit.
"Everybody threw their bodies in and I'm very proud of the players."
Arsenal eased past Cardiff 3-0 in the reverse fixture a little over a month ago, with Aaron Ramsey coming to the fore against his former team. The match will be remembered for the manner in which Ramsey, who scored two goals, was applauded by the Cardiff crowd even after he scored against their side.
Much has changed at Cardiff, who were stunned by Sunderland 2-2 courtesy two late goals, since that memorable game, with Malky Mackay fired by owner Vincent Tan and caretaker manager David Kerslake given the job of plotting a positive result against Arsenal.
"We held our own against them," said Kerslake of the fixture at the Cardiff City stadium. "We know they are one of the finest sides in Europe. We had a good go at them here, so we go there in good spirits."
Team news: Arsenal: Ramsey, unfortunately, will not be available for the Cardiff game as he works on recovering from a thigh injury, with fellow playmaker Mesut Ozil also joining the Welshman on the sidelines with a shoulder problem. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Yaya Sanogo and Abou Diaby remain ruled out, while Kieran Gibbs is also expected to miss out after picking up an injury in the Newcastle win. Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere are carrying knocks with the players to be assessed before the game.
The major blow, though, will be the loss of Olivier Giroud to an ankle injury, which gives either Lukas Podolski or Nicklas Bendtner an opportunity to shine from the beginning.
Cardiff: Former Liverpool and Manchester City forward Craig Bellamy is a major doubt for the Welsh side with a knee injury.
Key men: Arsenal:Theo Walcott did not have a great game against Newcastle, even if he did provide the assist for the game's only goal scored by Olivier Giroud. The winger will be keen to stamp his authority on the game right from the off on Wednesday.
Cardiff: The likes of Crag Noone and Jordan Mutch had impressive games against Sunderland, but it will be up to defenders Steven Caulkerand Ben Turner to quell Arsenal's forward-thinking players.
Expected lineups: Arsenal: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta, Wilshere; Walcott, Rosicky, Cazorla; Podolski.
Cardiff: Marshall; Theophile-Catherine; Caulker, Turner, John; Medel, Whittingham; Noone, Kim, Mutch; Campbell.
Prediction: 2-0 to Arsenal
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail: