Cardiff are a club that seem to be in a downward spiral, Vincent Tan has pumped a lot of money into the club and it’s got them into the Premier League. Their most successful manager in a long time though has been sacked and the club looks in tatters. One result could change all that though, hopefully it doesn’t happen against us today!
However, we do seem to be without a huge number of first team players. Aaron Ramsey who will miss the game against his old club, Mesut Ozil, Kieran Gibbs and Olivier Giroud have all been ruled out of the game. Meanwhile Vermaelen and Monreal face tests after suffering from illness whilst Rosicky, Wilshere and Walcott also face late fitness tests after picking up knocks. It probably would’ve been easier to mention who was fit, than who wasn’t! Wenger had said that all in his press conference yesterday but the latest is, that the five players that are requiring late tests should be fit enough to play thankfully. Had they not been or if they are indeed not fit then the squad would be down to the bare minimum. We would’ve had to have had the likes of Eisfeld, Frimpong and maybe even Park on the bench if they aren’t fit, that would’ve been interesting.
Saying that, we would just be limited in terms of options on the bench, the starting XI would surely still have enough capability to win against a lower Premier League side. I’m praying that Lukas Podolski gets to start and with Ozil out and Rosicky possibly not match fit I’m hoping that Cazorla gets a chance in his favoured central role. It’s a tossup over who will start up front. I think Nicklas Bendtner will get his chance but others seem to think Wenger will give Walcott a go with Gnabry resultantly out wide.
To start the new year and see 2013 draw to a close I’d thought I’d finish this article with a few stats from what was a very productive calendar year. 2013 saw our second best ever calendar year in terms of our win percentage, we managed to win a huge 64.8% of our games. The points we won in 2013 meanwhile, was most amount out of any Premier League club with 82. Our most common score lines were 1-0 and 2-0 which both happened on 9 occasions whilst Lukasz Fabianski and Nacho Monreal had the highest win percentages in the side. In terms of who played in 2013, Aaron Ramsey lined-up in the most games. He featured in 51 of them, scoring 14 goals in 33 wins. Giroud (49), Mertesacker (48) and Szczesny (47) were the next 3 most featured players last year.
The previous year threw up plenty of highs and lows. The highs for me were Theo Walcott finally ‘signing da ting’, whilst the win at Bayern was particularly memorable and sparked a terrific unbeaten streak away from home. The signing of Mesut Ozil will be what 2013 will be remembered for, Arsene Wenger finally breaking the bank to bring one of the world’s best players to the Emirates. Jack Wilshere’s amazing team goal against Norwich was surely our best goal of the year whilst the sparkling form of Aaron Ramsey through the late part of the 2012/13 campaign, and into the start of this current one means I’d give him our 2013 player of the year.
We really need to focus on 2014 now though. We’re in with a real chance of finally breaking our trophy duct. Let’s pray for not too many injuries like we have at the moment, a good run of form before tough fixtures in February and March and dare we dream of a trophy at the end of it?
By Matt Dawson