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Preview: Gunners v Blues

The Gunners' next home fixture against Cardiff on Friday is a much tougher proposition than it perhaps seemed a few weeks ago.  Then, the Blues were struggling and everything was going wrong for them.  Yet in the last couple of games they've turned it around and now sit just one place and 5 points behind the Gunners in the league.  And they've got a game in hand.  Both teams have banked their 8 points for free weekends, so on paper they look pretty equal.

However, the Blues have not travelled well all season.  In Scotland this season they've beaten Glasgow, but lost to the Borders.  Apart from Ghial Calvisano in the Heineken Cup you have to go back to that September victory over Glasgow for the last time Cardiff won outside the confines of South Wales.

On the other hand, the walls of Fortress Murrayfield have been looking pretty battered of late.  The Gunners' home record in all competitions this year is an OK 7-3, but all three defeats have come in the second part of the season.  In the Celtic League the picture is even starker: 5-2 sounds good until you realise that it stood 5-0 a few weeks ago.  Those defeats at the hands of Munster and Ulster, more even than last week's loss to the Ospreys, are why the Gunners are now fighting for third place instead of first.

One thing you can say about encounters at Murrayfield in recent months is that they're close.  You have to go back to October last year to find a game won by more than 8 points.  That says much about the Gunners' "never say die attitude" when they're behind, but it also speaks volumes about their inability to put games away.

The last time these teams met, in the Celtic League at Cardiff in January, the Gunners ran out victors by 13 points to 9.  Despite everything, look for the result to be the same, but don't take anything for granted.