Premier League Preview: Cardiff City vs. Arsenal

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  • Aaron Ramsey has made more tackles than any other player in the Premier League this season (57)
  • This marks the first league meeting since 17 March 1962 – a 1-1 draw at Arsenal
  • Only Manchester United and Aston Villa have gained more points from losing positions than Cardiff’s five

There will be a rambunctious battle in Cardiff this Saturday as the Bluebirds host Arsenal (watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) in front of a sold out stadium in the Welsh capital.

Cardiff have already had a great success at home in their first-ever season in the Premier League as they’ve already beaten Manchester City and last time out they snatched a last-gasp draw with Manchester United.

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Are league leaders Arsenal the next team to suffer at the hands of Malkay Mackay’s side?

Cardiff have had a solid start to life in the big-time and are extremely tough to beat, especially at home. Against the top 10 they’ve won twice and draw twice in seven games as their fight and determination to prove they belong in the PL shines through against the big boys.

source: AP
Cardiff’s players celebrate a late goal against Manchester United.

But Arsenal aren’t going to roll over easy as their new found tough streak will hold them in good stead on Saturday. Their last PL away game was a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United but the Gunners have previously gone on long winning-streaks away from the Emirates and they have the best away record in the PL (W4, D1, L1).

Midfield is where this game will be won and lost as former Cardiff City star Aaron Ramsey returns to face his hometown club. Ramsey, 22, has been in terrific form for the Gunners this season and is arguably the Premier League’s player of the season so far. He will face a stern task against the likes of Gary Medel and Aron Gunarrsson in the engine room.

Injury wise, Cardiff have no new concerns and will likely start with the same side which drew 2-2 with Manchester United last week. Arsene Wenger must decide whether or not to start with Theo Walcott after his return from injury in the last two games from the bench, while Kieran Gibbs is back in the squad.

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger’s on Cardiff’s never-say-die attitude: “They look to have good solidarity, good togetherness [and] fantastic support as well. They are all on the same wavelength in the team and are very efficient at home on set-pieces. Even on Sunday when they were 2-1 down against Man United, many teams could have thought ‘OK, it’s 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.”

Malkay Mackay on Aaron Ramsey’s homecoming to Cardiff: “I hope he gets a great reception here and I am pretty sure he will. He is a fine young man, I met him a couple of weeks ago when the Welsh squad were here. He popped in and at that point I said to him to make sure that in a couple of weeks’ time he goes easy with us. It’s good to see a young British player grasping the nettle at Premier League level and actually being one of the main men at Arsenal.”

Prediction

As well as Cardiff played last week against Manchester United, I don’t think the same approach will work against Arsenal. Their pressing, work rate and determination was impressive but they can’t get pushing high up the field against the Gunners because players like Ozil, Cazorla and Wilshere will pick them off to easily. A disciplined defensive display where they let Arsenal have the majority of the ball is the only way the Bluebirds can get something from this. I don’t think they’ll be able to do that, I’m going for an away win with Olivier Giroud to cause plenty of problems.

VIDEO: Wild first half in Moscow sees Lukaku, Hazard on board

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Romelu Lukaku (2) and Eden Hazard scored for Belgium before Dylan Bronn answered for Tunisia, as dominant Belgium holds a 3-1 lead with three goals gracing the games first 18 minutes on Saturday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Lukaku led an early break that led to a Thomas Meunier shot collected by Tunisian keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha.

Hazard won a penalty in the fifth minute, just inside the 18. He converted the chance low and to the right of Ben Mustapha.

Ben Mustapha was fortunate when Hazard’s 12th minute shot of a terrific Lukaku pass was substandard.

Lukaku then scored a beauty in the 16th minute, sent into the 18 by Dries Mertens, when he clinically slid a shot inside the far post.

Tunisia got a surprise answer a minute later when Bronn turned a free kick past Thibaut Courtois and into the back of the net.

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Lukaku would chip the keeper after Meunier played his perfect run to feet.

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Enrique has rare brain tumor removed, faces battle

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Former Newcastle and Liverpool defender Jose Enrique is now an agent, but the headache that came with a manager meeting had nothing to do with the conversation.

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Enrique had a “brutal” headache following a meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton, his former manager, and tests revealed a rare brain tumor (Spanish language link).

Enrique underwent brain surgery to remove the tumor and now faces 35 sessions of radiotherapy, only available in two European cities.

He lost more than a dozen pounds in a single week, calling it “the toughest time of my life.”

WATCH: World Cup, Day 10 — All eyes on Germany

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Many of the favorites in the 2018 World Cup have disappointed, but until Argentina fell 3-0 to Croatia on Thursday, Germany was the only one to suffer a defeat.

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Die Mannschaft fell to Mexico in their opening match, with El Tri carving up the German midfield on the counter. Now, Joachim Low has had ample time to make the adjustments needed to go for victory as the Germans take on Sweden as they chase a spot in the knockout stages among Group F.

Meanwhile, Mexico looks to prove they’re not a one-hit wonder as they take on South Korea in Rostov. Juan Carlos Osorio has received plenty of praise – and rightly so – for his tactics in the upset victory, and that leaves El Tri with a chance to clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a win.

Before all that Group F craziness, Belgium takes the field in the morning against Tunisia as they look to follow up its comprehensive 3-0 victory over Panama in the opening round. A victory for the Red Devils would not only book a place in the knockout round, but also eliminate Tunisia from contention.

Below is Saturday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Saturday, June 23

Group F
South Korea vs. Mexico: Rostov-on-Don, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Germany vs. Sweden: Sochi, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group G
Belgium vs. Tunisia: Moscow, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Kluivert junior leaves Ajax for Roma in $21m transfer

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ROME (AP) — Roma signed Justin Kluivert, the son of former Milan and Barcelona forward Patrick, from Ajax on Friday for a fee that could rise to 18.75 million euros ($21.8 million).

The 19-year-old Dutch international forward has agreed a five-year contract with Roma.

“I’m very happy. I’m at an incredible club,” Kluivert said. “I cannot wait to start. I believe that Roma is the ideal team for my growth, which will allow me to play at the highest levels.”

Kluivert junior made 56 appearances and scored 13 goals for Ajax. He has one cap for the Netherlands.

He joins Roma for an initial 17.25 million euros ($20.1 million) and performance-related clauses could see the price rise by 1.5 million euros.