Arsenal-Cardiff City Preview

The Associated Press

Things appear to be back to normal for front-running Arsenal, who on Saturday can complete a successful run of three straight wins at the expense of Cardiff City.

After stumbling into the international break on the back of a 1-0 loss at Manchester United, Arsene Wenger's charges have regrouped and enter the weekend with a four-point lead atop the Premier League. The Gunners (9-1-2) followed up their win over Southampton last Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Marseille in the Champions League on Tuesday, moving within one point of reaching the knockout round of Europe's most prestigious club tournament for the 14th straight season.

Jack Wilshire scored both goals for Arsenal - matching his season total entering the game - and giving Wenger another scoring option in a midfield that may emerge as the fulcrum in the chase for their first Premier League title since "The Invincibles" brought one to north London in 2004.

While fellow midfielder Mesut Ozil missed from the spot, he did set up Wilshire's second goal and has brought a box-to-box game that has been a key in Arsenal's climb to the summit thus far.

"He gets himself into good positions so the goals will come for sure," teammate and German compatriot Per Mertesacker said. "He moves well between the lines so it is always difficult to defend against him. He helps us create more chances. We are playing well as a team and we should continue that in the Champions League and the Premier League."

Arsenal have conceded just one goal in their last five matches across all competitions and have gone 9-1-1 on the road in league play dating back to last season, allowing five goals in that span.

Cardiff City (3-4-5) are continuing to scrap in their bid to stay in the top flight, and the Bluebirds picked up another precious point with a 2-2 draw against reigning league champions Manchester United last weekend. Bo-Kyung Kim scored in the first minute of injury time as Cardiff twice fought back from one-goal deficits to move three points above the drop zone.

"The belief and way we played against last year's champions was superb," manager Malky Mackay told Cardiff's website. "I'm delighted with the performance from the first minute to the last. The goal at the end was thoroughly deserving of the performance overall and the chances we had."

Cardiff have consistently punched above their weight at home against the league's best, taking a combined eight points from United, Manchester City, Everton and Swansea City.

Five of the Bluebirds' seven goals at home have come in the 60th minute or later.

This is the first league meeting between the teams since the 1961-62 season, which was also the last time Cardiff City were in the top flight. Arsenal knocked out Cardiff in the 2009 FA Cup, advancing with a 4-0 home victory in a fourth-round replay after the teams drew 0-0 at Ninian Park.

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