Cardiff City vs. Arsenal
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
Kick off: 1:30PM
Cardiff City play host to Arsenal in the Premier League this afternoon having failed to score a goal since gaining a return to the top flight.
The Gunners make the trip to South Wales having failed to keep a clean sheet since the arrival of Unai Emery, but the North London outfit did register a 3-1 victory over West Ham United last weekend.
Cardiff would have had high hopes of a positive start to the season when being handed fixtures with Bournemouth, Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town, but the Bluebirds have now realised the extent of the task awaiting them in the top flight.
Neil Warnock has witnessed his side go unbeaten in their last two Premier League fixtures, but there was a sense of good fortune about their point against Newcastle and Cardiff should have arguably collected all three points versus Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Warnock would have accepted one win from the opening triple-header, but no triumphs and no goals has put Cardiff under a considerable level of pressure ahead of the meeting with Arsenal.
The newly-promoted side remain the underdogs as they welcome the Londoners to town, but Warnock is aware that his players need to deliver a performance for their supporters.
Warnock would have hoped that a morale-boosting success could have been recorded against Norwich City in the EFL Cup, but a much-changed team suffered a 3-1 defeat to the Championship outfit.
Cardiff are now left with a run of fixtures which sees them face Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City all in succession, and Warnock will privately acknowledge that any points will be considered to be a bonus.
At a time when Cardiff were facing teams who they would have expected to pick up points from, Arsenal were left with the task of taking on Manchester City and Chelsea on the opening two weekends of the season.
However, new boss Emery will now probably regard that as a blessing in disguise, with the Gunners gradually finding their feet at a time when the squad are still going through a transitional phase.
Arsenal remain far from the finished article and that may not come until the closing months of the season, but a spirited display at Chelsea and a comeback victory over West Ham United should provide reasons for optimism going forward.
There are still concerns regarding a defence which has conceded six goals in three matches, but there should also be a level of understanding for the flair and quality which has been present in each attack.
A sense of realism should not paper over the cracks that are still showing in what is sometimes a disjointed formation, but a win today would at least give Emery and Arsenal a platform to build on ahead of the next period of the season.
Cardiff City possible XI: Etheridge, Manga, Bamba, Morrison, Bennett, Ralls; Murphy, Arter, Camarasa, Paterson, Zohore
Arsenal possible XI: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang.