Good afternoon. We've got a great game for you today. Cardiff City
caused plenty of problems for Manchester United last weekend and they seem to produce their best against the big teams. It doesn't get bigger than this, as league leaders Arsenal visit today.
It promises to be a very difficult afternoon for Arsenal but there is a big reward in place if they can collect three points. Arsene Wenger
's side will move seven points clear at the top, with their closest rivals not in action today.
's men have impressed many this season but they are still 15th in the Premier League. A victory today would edge them further away from the relegation zone.
The good news for Arsenal is that some important players are finding form and fitness at a good stage. Jack Wilshere looked at his best in midweek, while Theo Walcott's return from injury will be crucial.
Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud
SUBSTITUTIONS: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Rosicky, Flamini, Walcott, Gnabry
Marshall, Taylor, Caulker, Turner, Whittingham, Medel, Campbell, Kim, Mutch, Cowie, Theophile-Catherine
SUBSTITUTIONS: Lewis; Hudson, Cornelius, Odemwingie, Noone, Gunnarsson, Bellamy
Wenger names the same team that beat Southampton a week ago, with Kieran Gibbs returning from illness after missing the Champions League victory over Marseille.
Just one change for the hosts as Kim Bo-Kyung replaces Peter Odemwingie, with Fraizer Campbell continuing in attack following his impressive display against the champions on Sunday. Mackay will be desperate for a similar performance.
Walcott remains on the bench for the visitors but he could prove to be an important player late in the game if Cardiff keep it tight at the back. In a World Cup year, it's crucial that he starts on a regular basis.
Arsenal's strength in midfield is very impressive. Mathieu Flamini, who has been very impressive during his second spell with the club, is forced to settle for a spot on the bench as Mikel Arteta continues to make an impact in the holding role.
Cardiff have beaten Manchester City, held Manchester United to a draw and were very unlucky to lose to Tottenham Hotspur in front of their own supporters. It won't be easy for Arsenal, but this could be Cardiff's toughest test yet.
PREDICTION: There's just under 30 minutes until the match gets underway, so it's time to have a guess at what the score will be today. It's going to be a tough game for Arsenal but I think they'll snatch a 2-1 win.
Remember, you can follow any of the Premier League games by using the box on the right of the page. There's plenty of teams under pressure this weekend.
It's a return to Cardiff for Aaron Ramsey today. The midfielder started his career with the club before moving to Arsenal in 2008. He's in the form of his life this season. Will he add Mackay's side to his list of victims today?
Wenger's team have proved a lot of critics wrong this season. Their ability to stay at the top has been questioned but if they move seven points ahead today, who can doubt them then?
Despite their impressive draw last Sunday, Cardiff have only won one of their previous six games. Mackay needs his side to find some form over the Christmans period or they will be dragged closer to the bottom three.
So, stadiums around the country are filling up now and the action is almost here. Cardiff were dreaming of games like this when they chased promotion last season and they'll fancy their chances of stopping an Arsenal side looking to continue their great campaign.
Plenty to play for in Wales. Both teams have returned to the changing rooms for their final preparations with kick off just over 10 minutes away.
Will Campbell be the biggest threat for the hosts today? The striker was absolutely superb against Manchester United on Sunday as he gave the visiting defence a tough time with his clever runs. He seems to be a confidence player, so he'll be desperate to continue the good form today.
Olivier Giroud has been a big reason for Arsenal's success this season but the French striker has only scored one goal outside of London. That really is a strange statistic for a player who seems to have found his comfort zone in the Premier League.
The players are on their way out of the tunnel now, with just the handshakes and the coin toss left before the referee starts the game.
Ramsey receives a big cheer from the home supporters when his name is announced and he responds with a round of applause.
Cardiff get the game underway.
WOODWORK! What a start from Arsenal as Ramsey produces a clever pass to find Wilshere, who strikes the crossbar with a stunning long range effort.
Cardiff have been rocked by that early chance for Arsenal, who have started the game very quickly.
Ramsey has seen a lot of the ball in the opening minutes of the game but Cardiff are beginning to settle now. Campbell is looking isolated and is in need of support.
Ouch! There's not many players tougher than Mertesacker but he's feeling the pain after colliding in the air with Sagna. The German seems to have hurt his cheek.
There's a lot of concern for Mertesacker as Arsenal's medical staff attempt to patch up the defender, who is bleeding from his mouth.
CHANCE! Cardiff are close to taking the lead just moments after Mertesacker is forced to change his shirt on the sideline. Theophile-Catherine breaks away on the right and his inviting cross is headed just wide by Campbell.
Wilshere and Ramsey are linking well in midfield for the visitors, who are passing the ball nicely in the early stages. Giroud is drifting out to the left, which is leaving a big gap in the centre of attack.
England manager Roy Hodgson is in the stands today. He might be checking on the progress of Gibbs, Wilshere and Walcott but will he have an eye on Campbell?
Big mistake from Giroud as he hesitates in the box when he thinks he's drifted off-side. When the forward eventually decides to take a shot, the Cardiff defence are able to recover. Crazy few moments from Giroud.
Whittingham collects the ball on the right and whips in a brilliant cross. Szczesny is challenged by Turner, who heads just over but the referee decides there was a foul on the goalkeeper.
Arsenal have been forced back in the last few minutes as Cardiff continue to grow in confidence. It's not been a fluent start from the away side, who are being rushed in possession by the eager hosts.
Giroud's disappointing start to the afternoon is frustrating his teammates now. Wilshere and Ramsey exchange passes to earn the latter some space on the edge of the box but the French forward steps in and gives the ball away.
Gibbs, as always, is being encouraged to make a lot of runs forward. The England defender is inches away from taking the ball under his control in the box when Ramsey chips a clever pass over the Cardiff defence.
There's another delay when Kim goes down holding his face after Sagna lands on the Cardiff midfielder following a challenge between the two players. Both should be fine.
Unusually for Arsenal, it's their decision making in the final third of the pitch which has let them down in the first half. They've enjoyed plenty of possession on the edge of the box but there hasn't been many chances.
GOAL! CARDIFF 0-1 ARSENAL (RAMSEY)
Who else? Ramsey opens the scoring against his former club with a superb header into the top corner from a great Ozil cross on the left side of midfield. Good delivery, stunning finish.
Great scenes in Cardiff following the goal. Ramsey refused to celebrate after breaking the deadlock and the home supporters respond by applauding the midfielder. Nice touch.
It would be easy to drop deeper after falling behind but Cardiff must be positive going forward. If Arsenal are given too much time, the lead will be extended very quickly.
A free kick from Whittngham causes plenty of problems in the Arsenal area but when the ball drops to Mutch, he can't force an effort on goal while stretching for the ball.
YELLOW CARD! The referee used his cards for the first time before that free kick, with Gibbs being booked for a late challenge on Theophile-Catherine.
Campbell is once again doing a brilliant job of chasing down long balls and bringing his teammates into the game. Cardiff need to get closer to their lone striker.
Arsenal have found their passing rhythm now, which is worrying for Cardiff as they chase the yellow shirts around the pitch looking for a way back into the match.
Great work from Wilshere as he tracks back when Arsenal lose possession and tackles Whittingham just as Cardiff were looking dangerous.
Mackay might not be too worried just yet. It will be difficult to fight back from a goal down but Cardiff have done it before against the big sides.
The Arsenal defence are being put under a lot of pressure when they're in possession but the right passes are being made at the moment.
Four minutes of added time will be played.
CHANCE! Giroud is offered to much space to pick out Ramsey, who twists and turns in the box before firing an effort wide of the target. The midfielder should have done much better there.
Arsenal are holding firm as Cardiff launch a few long balls into the box. It looks like the visitors will be ahead at the break.
HALF-TIME: CARDIFF 0-1 ARSENAL
Ramsey's fantastic header gives Arsenal the advantage at half time. They've been the better side in the first half but Wenger will be expecting plenty more when his side return to the pitch.
Cardiff have played a lot worse this season but they haven't found top gear in the first half of this match. Campbell is in good form again, although he looks an isolated figure in attack.
Arsenal are one step closer to extending their lead at the top of the table to seven points. They will surely be tested a lot more as this game progresses, though. Will Mackay be tempted to change anything during the interval?
I'm sure Cardiff weren't expecting to have more possession this afternoon but they can't afford to sit on the edge of the box and allow Arsenal to pick their passes. If they do, it won't be much longer until Marshall is picking the ball out of the net again.
Arsenal get the game back underway.
Arsenal immediately take control of the game early in the second half but Wilshere gives the ball away in midfield as a promising move breaks down.
CHANCE! It should be 2-0 to Arsenal. Ramsey beats a couple of defenders in the box before picking out Giroud, whose close range effort is cleared off the line by Turner. Great defending.
Ramsey's confidence is obvious as he uses his skill to break into the box again. Unfortunately for Arsenal, the midfielder can't deliver a cross this time.
SAVE! Kim gets to the front post to flick on a cross from Cowie. Campbell rises highest in the box to head the ball towards the bottom corner but Szczesny makes a stunning save to keep his side ahead.
Much better from Cardiff. The crowd react to some positive football as Whittingham fires an effort wide from the edge of the box.
It's Arsenal who are dropping deeper now as Cardiff begin to pile on the pressure. The hosts seem to be winning everything now as Whittingham shoots from distance again, with Wilshere making the vital block.
SAVE! Cardiff move the ball from left to right very nicely and Theophile-Catherine forces Szczesny to make the save when he drills a shot from 25 yards. Easy work for the Arsenal goalkeeper.
Arsenal aren't passing the ball with the same confidence they did in the first half, which will be a concern for Wenger on the sidelines.
SAVE! Arsenal threaten for the first time in a while when Giroud collects the ball in space on the edge of the box and curls an effort straight at Marshall.
Wenger might think about sending on Walcott soon to force Cardiff to worry about the extra pace on the wing. They're still in charge, for now.
Cardiff aren't threatening as much now as Arsenal begin to dominate the game in midfield once again. Mackay may consider a change before his opposite number.
It's just not been Giroud's day so far. Ramsey is providing great support in the box when Arsenal counter but the forward decides to unleash a shot from a tight angle. The effort appears to take a deflection but the referee awards a goal kick.
SUBSTITUTION: Mackay makes the first change of the match by sending Odemwingie on to replace Campbell, who has tired in the second half.
It's certainly not been Arsenal's best display this afternoon but if they move seven points clear, it won't matter. The game is starting to get a bit scrappy, with neither team looking after the ball.
SHOT! Wilshere attacks the Cardiff defence with good pace before chipping a ball to Cazorla, who hits a tame effort at Marshall.
Cardiff will need to throw more players forward soon with just under 20 minutes left on the clock. Odemwingie has looked lively but he's isolated just as Campbell before him.
Cowie is furious with the referee when Wilshere appears to chop him down from behind. No free kick given and Arsenal regain possession.
SUBSTITUTION: Kim's work is done for the day as Mackay brings on Craig Noone.
SUBSTITUTION: Wenger makes his first change of the match by bringing on Flamini to replace Cazorla as Arsenal look to secure the win.
SAVE! Whittingham keeps trusting his technique on the edge of the box but another attempt ends with a save as Szczesny comfortably collects a half volley.
YELLOW CARD! Arteta is cautioned for a foul on Cowie in midfield. Cardiff launch the ball into the box but Arsenal clear the danger with ease.
SUBSTITUTION: Another change from Wenger and his intentions are clear as Monreal replaces Wilshere for the final few minutes.
SAVE! Monreal pleads his innocence after giving away a free kick in a dangerous position by bringing down Noone. The cross is cleared to Cowie on the edge of the box and his low effort is well saved by Szczesny.
Just five more minutes left for Arsenal to secure the victory. Will there be a late twist?
GOAL! CARDIFF 0-2 ARSENAL (FLAMINI)
No twists but this is certainly a surprise. Flamini wasn't sent on for his goal threat but he wraps up the victory by sprinting into the box to collect a pass from Ozil and fire a brilliant shot past Marshall. What a finish!
Cardiff have battled well to stay in this match and they've certainly had their moments but it looks like they'll regret not being positive enough after falling behind.
SUBSTITUTION: Ozil is replaced by Walcott, who might have expected to play a bigger role today. He has five minutes to make an impact in stoppage time.
Cardiff are launching balls into the box now but Arsenal will be desperate to hang on to a clean sheet.
GOAL! CARDIFF 0-3 ARSENAL (RAMSEY)
Ramsey's return to Cardiff has been very successful and his superb season continues. The midfielder launches a counter attack when the hosts lose the ball on the edge of the Arsenal box. Ramsey exchanges passes with Walcott before firing home superbly from inside the box.
Arsenal deserve plenty of credit for this performance. They haven't been at their brilliant best but they're going to secure a comfortable victory.
FULL-TIME: CARDIFF 0-3 ARSENAL
It's all over in Cardiff. Arsenal now lead the Premier League by seven points following another impresive result. Once again, it will be Aaron Ramsey who dominates the headlines.
Cardiff were singing Ramsey's name in stoppage time. That tells you just how much his former club appreciate his ability. His two goals have earned Arsenal a 3-0 victory. Thanks for joining me. Goodbye.