Arsenal will take to the field at Ninian Park today with what appears to be a second string lineup. From Fabianksi in goal. Le Boss has indicated that the troubled relationship of Gallas and Toure will return with Toure holding the captains armband. Arsene has calculated that the tension between the two players is not a bar to them playing in the same team and they are professional enough to put Arsenal first. He is quoted as saying
“They get on OK,” said Wenger. “In football you don’t have to go on holiday together but you can still play together.
“[Real Madrid legends] Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas never spoke to each other. They didn’t greet each other but when you saw them play together you would never guess that.
“Kolo and William talk to each other but it is always very difficult to assess how much people are friends or not. What is essential is that, on the pitch, football is most important and they should respect the game. If you want to win, you do what it takes.”
If only I could share his confidence. If there is going to be a weak link today, I suspect that it will come from Gallas. The suspension of Gael Clichy due to the totting up rule with yellow cards means that we should see Keiran Gibbs at left back instead of Gallas, despite the latter being accustomed to playing full back from his days at Chelsea. The other scenario could see a back four of Eboue at Right back, Djourou and Toure in the middle and Gibbs on the left giving Bacary Sagna a well earned rest. In midfield if we are going to turn over David Jones’s Cardiff side, it may be through the inspiration of starting their ex star Aaron Ramsay. Diaby and Denilson in the middle with Nasri out wide. Up front could see the pairing of Robin van Persie with Niklas Bendtner, but I would not be surprised to see Carlos Vela given his first start. The one player that I wanted to see today was Jack Wilshere, however Neil Banfield failed to omit him from the midweek game against Stoke unlike Keiran Gibbs.
Cardiff come to this fixture lying sixth in the championship, and they have not lost in any competition so far this season. This match is being played at their spiritual home, and could be the last FA cup fixture their before they leave for their new stadium. They start with their first team squad that has not lost a game since November and have gone WWDWWD. I do not know the players but their top scorer is Sottish under 21 International Ross McCormack with 15 goals. According to my research we may see Enckelman in goal with a back four of McNaught, Gyepes, Skipper Johnson and Kennedy with Paul Parry, Rae and the much fancied Joe Ledley alongside . Their strike pair of Jay Bothroyd a former Gunner who won the FA Youth Cup with Arsenal, and Ross McCormack will hope to do the business. Injuries affect Whittingham with a hamstring and Dave Jones has the choice of putting in Steven McPhail. With the FA allowing seven substitutes, and Cardiff aiming to secure a play off berth to try and return to the Premiership, this strongest lineup could change.
The referee will be Martin Atkinson who refereed the 2006 FA Community Shield game between Liverpool and Chelsea, which saw him give out 4 yellow cards. So far this season this Englishman who is based in Yorkshire has issued 96 yellow cards at a frequency of 2.52 per game and 6 red cards from the 38 games that he has been in charge of. The match starts at 1.30 and is being televised on Setanta. The FA cup draw for the fifth round will take place at 6-15 pm this evening, so check back here later for the post match report and the FA Cup draw.
Fabregas the King.
Lukasz Fabianski, Bacary Sagna, Johan Djourou, Kolo Toure, Kieran Gibbs, Emmanuel Eboue, Alex Song, Aaron Ramsey, Samir Nasri, Robin Van Persie Nicklas Bendtner.
Subs: Manuel Almunia, Jack Wilshere, William Gallas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Vela, Denilson, Abou Diaby