Cardiff City go into the New Year's Day game at the Emirates manager-less, and off the back of throwing away a 2-0 lead at home to relegation rivals Sunderland.
The Welsh side have been disappointing on their travels, with only two points taken from the last six matches. With just 15 goals conceded away all season, Cardiff have been involved in scrappy and hard-fought games.
The Bluebirds will go to the Emirates, sit deep and play five across the midfield. Cardiff will look to soak up pressure, force forward and hope to win the set pieces, with midfielder Whittingham hoping to take advantage of dead-ball situations. The former Aston Villa midfielder has provided two assists and has attempted 65 crosses on the road - 30 more than any other Cardiff City player.
Arsenal will have to play aggressively from the off, cutting off Whittingham's ability to put balls into the box. Gunners manager Arsene Wenger will no doubt urge his attacking midfielders to push Cardiff back when in possession, keeping Whittingham pressed back in his own half.
Some say that Arsenal lacked aggression at times this season, especially at the Emirates, scoring more than twice in only two of their nine Premier League home games.
And Arsenal have also been guilty of easing up and allowing opponents back into the game after going ahead. But a strong comeback against West Ham and a hard fought victory over Newcastle in the last 2 games clearly shows that Arsenal are learning to dig in and grind out results. The same approach against Cardiff will surely see Arsenal bag all 3 points.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald
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