Cardiff City Football Club return to action at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, January 29th.
City’s match against Arsenal is our first game since forward Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson sadly went missing while travelling to Cardiff. As a sign of respect, a floral tribute of daffodils and tulips will be laid at pitchside by the captains of both teams. Supporters of Arsenal and Cardiff City will be invited to share a moment of silent reflection before kick-off.
The travelling Bluebirds will be given a Yellow Daffodil flower pin badge to show their solidarity and support at this difficult time.
Cardiff City FC manager Neil Warnock addressed the press & media on Monday afternoon ahead of the trip to the Emirates Stadium.
“I’ve been in football management for 40 years and this has been by far the most difficult week of my career," Neil began. “Even now, I cannot get my head around the situation. My sympathies are with their families.
"It's probably hit me harder as I've met the lad and talked to him for the last six to eight weeks.
“From our point of view it’s important for us to have a game. Our players do need that distraction now.
“Some of the lads didn’t get to meet Emiliano when he visited, but we’ve all felt the impact.
"We have done the best we can to prepare [for Tuesday's match] in the circumstances.
"Football is important, relegation and things are important, but in the context of life, it just opens everybody's eyes, whether or not you are involved with Cardiff City or any of the families."
Emiliano and David are in our thoughts and we pray for positive news.
Arsenal have enjoyed a positive opening half of the Premier League season. They currently sit fifth in the table on 44 points, after 23 matches, and just three points outside the much sought after Champions League positions.
This season, the Gunners are playing their European football in the UEFA Europa League. Arsenal won five of their six games, drawing the other, to secure top spot in Group E. They will face Belerusian side FC BATE Borisov at the round of 32 in a two-legged tie next month.
In their last match, a fourth round Emirates FA Cup clash with Manchester United on Friday night, Arsenal lost 3-1 with top goalscorer Pierre Emerick Aubameyang netting in a competitive clash.
In focus: Unai Emery
It was never going to be easy for any manager to take over the reins at the Emirates Stadium after Arsène Wenger, who had been in charge of the Club for 22 years. Wenger, is Arsenal’s most successful and longest serving manager of all time.
Former Sevilla manager Unai Emery though has enjoyed a strong start to his time at the Club. Instant success can never be assured in footballing terms, but Emery has stabilised, put his own stamp on the side and managed to get his team contending for the top four. The Gunners even went on a 22 match unbeaten run earlier this season, and beat Chelsea 2-0 in their last Premier League match.
Earlier this season...
Our match at Cardiff City Stadium in early September was somewhat a classic, with both teams trading blows. Arsenal opened the scoring with twelve minutes gone. Granit Xhaka delivered an out-swinging corner into the box, which was perfectly met by Shkodran Mustafi.
The Bluebirds continued to put pressure on the Arsenal backline throughout the first half and their pressure finally paid off as the clock ticked into injury time. Joe Bennett’s delivery was contested by Victor Camarasa and Nacho Monreal - the City man won the duel. Camarasa trapped the ball on the turn and fired into the roof of the net, netting City’s first Premier League goal of the season.
Unai Emery’s side regained the lead just after the hour mark, with a fantastic strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon international picked up the ball from Alexandre Lacazette’s flicked pass, and curled a great strike into the far corner, putting the Europa League side back in front.
The Bluebirds instantly launched into action, in an attempt to get back on level terms. A succession of corner balls were poorly dealt with by the visiting defence, allowing City to deservedly draw level after seventy minutes. Sean Morrison flicked the ball on from a Joe Ralls corner, with Danny Ward in the perfect position. The lively striker produced a brilliant header, which bounced off the post before nestling in the net, putting the Bluebirds back on terms for the second time.
The result changed hands yet again with nine minutes remaining, as Arsenal went back in front. A clever ball by Lucas Torreira released Lacazette, who used his pace to nip around Sol Bamba and fire a powerful shot into the top corner, changing the dynamic of the match for the final time.
The game concluded with Arsenal taking the points, but not without a valiant effort from Neil Warnock’s men.
Arsenal vs. Cardiff City will always be an iconic fixture for the Bluebirds support after our 1927 triumph over the Gunners resulted in City being the first (and only as of yet) non-English club to win the FA Cup.
Aaron Ramsey could face his hometown club once more. Ramsey, who departed the Bluebirds for the Gunners back in 2008, scored twice for the Gunners at CCS in 2013.
Ramsey began his professional career in 2007, coming on as a substitute against Hull City at Ninian Park. He was the youngest player to make their professional debut at the club at just 16 years and 123 days, breaking the previous record held by John Toshack.
Ramsey made his first start for the Bluebirds away at Chasetown in January 2008 in our Third Round clash, as City embarked upon an FA Cup campaign that would ultimately finish at Wembley.
Others to wear the shirt of both Arsenal and City include Derek Tapscott, Rhys Weston, Kerrea Gilbert, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and current Bluebird, Matthew Connolly, who captained the Gunners' reserve side.