Arsenal begins 2014 sitting at the top of the Premier League and facing a match against a Cardiff City side that's reeling from the axing of their manager and a collapse against Sunderland over the weekend. On paper it's a game the Gunners should win, even with several players out injured.
Arsene Wenger is missing a ton of players for Wednesday's match. Four regular starters are confirmed out while another four face fitness test ahead of the match. While the Gunners have bounced back from a pre-Christmas slide with two straight wins, points are a must if they want to remain at the top of the title race.
While Cardiff aren't blowing the doors off anyone this season, they are above the relegation zone and playing well at times. That's not been good enough of owner Vincent Tan who sacked manager Malky Mackay despite vocal opposition and protest from fans. The Bluebirds can ill afford to go into a tailspin as Tan scrambles to find a replacement head coach and a bad loss against the Gunners could start one.
Arsenal injuries and suspensions
Out: Mesut Özil (shoulder), Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Kieran Gibbs (calf), Olivier Giroud (ankle), Yaya Sanogo (back), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Abou Diaby (knee). In Doubt: Tomas Rosicky (calf), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Theo Walcott (shoulder), Nacho Monreal (illness), Thomas Vermaelen (illness).
Cardiff injuries and suspensions
Arsenal's injury list is longer than most kids' Christmas wish list for Santa. Özil, Ramsey, Gibbs and GIroud are all out with various maladies and while that's bad enough it could get worse. Rosicky, Wilshire and Walcott all face fitness tests ahead of the match and defenders Nacho and Vermaelen have both been limited this week with illnesses.
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczęsny, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Carl Jenkinson, Mathieu Flamini, Theo Walcott, Santi Carzola, Lukas Podolski, Niklas Bendtner.
Cardiff City: David Marshall, Kévin Théophile-Catherine, Steven Caulker, Ben Turner, Declan John, Gary Medel, Craig Noone, Jordan Mutch, Aron Gunnarsson, Peter Whittingham, Frazier Campbell.
Match Date/Time: 3 p.m. local, 10:00 a.m. ET
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London, England
TV: NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.), TSN2 (Canada)
Online: NBC Live Extra (U.S.)