It’s been a tragic season in many respects, the death of Leicester’s Billionaire owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and more recently, the disappearance of Cardiff’s record signing Emiliano Sala.
So, it may be an emotional backdrop to Arsenal’s encounter against Cardiff, with the gunners looking to put the 4th round defeat to Manchester United behind them.
However. These occasions tend to go one of two ways.
It fires up the team that has suffered the trauma sufficiently to prove a point or it is a game that comes too early for any form of recovery or purposeful performance.
With Neil Warnock in charge, I’d expect a solid, respectful but committed show for the sake of the fans.
Arsenal shouldn’t be sucked into the events and emotions of the incident, which has saddened many in the football world.
Emery has problems in defence, something it feels as if we talk about on a daily basis and he will have to find a solution to that prevents Cardiff from gaining an unexpected win.
Mustafi needs a partner, hopefully not Xhaka and even though we are appearing fairly desperate at the moment, we can avoid the return of Stephan Lichtsteiner, who makes me nervous when faced with any form of threat.
A chance perhaps, for Carl Jenkinson, who has endured a dreadful spell in an Arsenal shirt, which , in the long term seems likely to result in his transfer, possibly in the summer, along with Mustafi and Monreal.
Jenkinson has been at Arsenal since 2011 and has failed to impress and led to loan spells at West Ham and Birmingham City.
If ever there was an opportunity for the player to show his intent and worth, this is it.
At the age of 26, he needs to take centre stage and put in a shift that is measured but powerful.
Will Emery start Ozil ? I suspect he will, having cherry picked the games that he feels the German can have an impact on but he is match shy, so don’t go expecting vintage Ozil.
Cardiff will certainly make it tough and Warnock will try to strangle Arsenal’s desire for space.
If they are to get anything from this game, they will have to contain Lacazette and Aubameyang.
Probably by pushing up high and bringing the numbers back when out of possession.
Any form of attacking threat pose problems for Arsenal at the moment and Emery will expect everyone to share the defensive load.
As we saw recently, even Aubameyang can put in a foot when the situation merits it and the lead goal scorer for the club, endeared himself to the fans with his intensity and ability to get stuck in.
Junior Hoilett is one of a number of players that can influence the outcome but his form and Cardiff’s inability to penetrate in the final third have resulted the Welsh sides current predicament.
Something that the purchase of Emiliano Sala, was meant to solve but sadly we can only guess what difference he may have made.
Warnock will want his players to be physical and fight for every ball and it’s as much about what they do in Poseidon as they do without it.
It’s a game Arsenal need to win, with Manchester United scoring for fun and suddenly realising they are supposed to be in the top four.
Any slip up here by the gunners will open the door for them and make the defeat in the FA cup seem like scratch.
Arsenal should win comfortably by two or three goals but as we saw against United, two minutes can change the direction of a game completely.
Ramsey may start on the bench tomorrow, with Iwobi ahead of him, unless the Xhaka experiment continues.
Arsenal have young central defenders chomping at the bit to get in the team and surely this is as good a game as any to blood one of them.