English Premiership

Gunners wary of Cardiff threat

2013-11-30 07:17
Arsene Wenger (AFP)

London - Arsene Wenger insists leaders Arsenal will learn from the mistakes of their Premier League title rivals when they face Cardiff on Saturday.

Wenger's side head to Cardiff looking to extend their advantage at the top of the table before the rest of the main title challengers play on Sunday.

A win would move the Gunners seven points clear of second placed Liverpool, who face Hull 24 hours later, but success at the Cardiff City Stadium is far from a given for Arsenal because Malky Mackay's men have already frustrated Manchester City and Manchester United in south Wales this season.

City were beaten 3-2 in August, while United had to settle for a 2-2 draw last weekend and Wenger has no intention of underestimating the Bluebirds in Arsenal's first league fixture at Cardiff since 1961.

"They beat City at home and they played a very good game against Manchester United where possession was 50-50, so that is the challenge for us - to do better than these teams," Wenger said.

"We have the warning of their performances against the big teams, so we are in a position where we have a difficult challenge, but also a very exciting challenge because we can do better.

"Cardiff look to have good solidarity, good togetherness and fantastic support as well.

"Even on Sunday when they were 2-1 down against Man United, many teams could have thought 'okay, it is Man United, we will not come back', but you always had the feeling that they don't give up.

"You could feel that they would come back. They have that special attitude and belief in the side, and that makes them dangerous."

On Sunday, Liverpool will look to keep pace with Arsenal when they visit the KC Stadium and Reds midfielder Jordan Henderson knows his team are under pressure to take advantage of a relatively easy run of fixtures.

After facing Hull, Brendan Rodgers' team play Norwich and West Ham and Henderson said: "We are second in the league and we have to make sure we continue in the way we have started the season.

"We have had a couple of difficult away games. I think we're doing okay but we can still improve and keep pushing on."

Third placed Chelsea, behind Liverpool on goals scored, host Southampton, with Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta admitting Jose Mourinho's team need to bounce back from a lacklustre display in their midweek loss at Basel in the Champions League.

"Sometimes it happens," Azpilicueta added. "One day you play really well, three days later really bad.

"We don't want to have this kind of movement in our performance because it's important to keep your balance, to play well every day.

"Sometimes we don't keep the level to win every game. For Chelsea that cannot be possible."

Free-scoring Manchester City will look to continue their goal spree when they meet Swansea at Eastlands.

Manuel Pellegrini's fourth placed team have scored 22 goals in their last four home matches, but French midfielder Samir Nasri has warned his team-mates to focus on defence as well after a sloppy Champions League showing in a 4-2 win over Czech minnows Viktoria Plzen.

"We are scoring a lot of goals but we cannot score four goals every game," Nasri said. "We need to improve how we defend as a team."

Also on Sunday, champions Manchester United will travel to Tottenham for a clash between two teams who have under-achieved so far this season.

United are seven points behind Arsenal after slipping up against a series of supposedly inferior opponents, including a 2-2 draw at Cardiff last weekend.

David Moyes' men looked more like their dominant selves in a 5-0 rout of Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday and they will expect to keep the pressure on Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas, with some reports claiming he is in danger of being sacked after a 6-0 thrashing at City on Sunday left them languishing in ninth place.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace's new manager Tony Pulis starts his reign with a crucial trip to fellow strugglers Norwich.

Fixtures:

Saturday

Aston Villa v Sunderland, Cardiff v Arsenal, Everton v Stoke, Newcastle v West Brom (1730GMT), Norwich v Crystal Palace, West Ham v Fulham

Sunday

Chelsea v Southampton, Hull v Liverpool, Manchester City v Swansea, Tottenham v Manchester United

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Fixtures
Monday, 18 December 2017
Everton v Swansea City, Goodison Park 22:00
Friday, 22 December 2017
Arsenal v Liverpool, Emirates Stadium 21:45
Saturday, 23 December 2017
Everton v Chelsea, Goodison Park 14:30
Stoke City v West Bromwich Albion, Bet365 Stadium 17:00
Manchester City v AFC Bournemouth, Etihad Stadium 17:00
Swansea City v Crystal Palace, Liberty Stadium 17:00
West Ham United v Newcastle United, London Stadium 17:00
Southampton v Huddersfield Town, St. Mary's Stadium 17:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Watford, The American Express Community Stadium 17:00
Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur, Turf Moor 19:30
Leicester City v Manchester United, King Power Stadium 21:45
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