LONDON (Sporting Alert) — Leaders Arsenal head into their New Year’s Day English Premier League clash with Cardiff at Emirates Stadium with a lot of injury worries, with several stars already ruled out.
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Midfielders Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and Mesut Ozil (shoulder) were already ruled out of the contest and the likes of striker Olivier Giroud (ankle) and full-back Kieran Gibbs (calf) have joined them on the injured list.
Arsene Wenger will also be keeping his fingers cross that Theo Walcott (shoulder), Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (calf) will all pass fitness tests. Defenders Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen who only recently returned, are also being monitored.
“Starting of course first with Ramsey and Ozil who are out, and we lost Gibbs at Newcastle with a calf strain,” Wenger said on Arsenal.com.
“We have as well Monreal and Vermaelen who are not certain to be ready because they have come just back from illness, then we have uncertainty about Rosicky, Wilshere, Walcott.
“We lost Giroud to an ankle problem at Newcastle so this morning will be more medical checks to see who will be available for the game.”
Wenger added: “Walcott has a little shoulder problem. Rosicky got a little kick on his calf. They are all going to be assessed this morning.”
The Frenchman must also decide on whether to start Nicklas Bendtner or play Lukas Podolski
Arsenal sits atop of the EPL standings with 42 points, one more than Manchester City and the Gunners will be hoping not to slip-up at home.
Cardiff City reports that experienced forward Craig Bellamy will again miss out as he is not fully recovered from a knee injury.
Caretaker boss David Kerslake hoping his team can bounce back from the disappointing late-late draw with Sunderland when they seemed to have had the game won at the weekend.
Arsenal is at 1/4 for a victory, according to UK’s Sky Bet, with Cardiff 12/1 for the away win and 5/1 for a draw.
Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Fabianski, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Monreal, Vermaelen, Arteta, Flamini, Gnabry, Frimpong, Wilshere, Cazorla, Walcott, Rosicky, Bendtner, Podolski.
Cardiff (from): Marshall, Connolly, Caulker, Hudson, Turner, Medel, Cornelius, Brayford, Whittingham, Kim, Smith, Noone, Cowie, Maynard, Lewis, John, Theophile-Catherine, Gunnarsson, Mutch, Odemwingie, Campbell.