Result: Cardiff 2-3 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 2 September 2018
Stamford Bridge Cardiff Stadium
Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both got off the mark for the season as Arsenal overcame a tenacious Cardiff side 3-2 in the Welsh capital. Victor Camarasa cancelled out Mustafi’s early header in stoppage time of an entertaining first half before Aubameyang restored our lead just past the hour mark with a beautiful curling effort. Danny Ward’s header forced us to dig deep and it needed a real moment of quality from man-of-the-match Lacazette to win it. Spinning his man with six minutes remaining, he made space to hammer home at the near post to justify his first start of the season.
Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Subs: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Elneny, Torreira, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck
1’ – Cech stays calm, just!
Twice inside the opening minute the home side close down back passes to our keeper. Thankfully, despite stumbling on the ball the first time he keeps his head and works a pass away from danger. That could have been a disastrous start.
2’ – 4-2-3-1
Aaron Ramsey has the number 10 role but the positioning of Aubameyang and Ozil hints at a fluid formation in attack. Aubameyang has been floating on the right, but he’ll no doubt end up on the left.
4’ – Huge let off!
Cech tries to play out from the back again but this time his pass goes straight to Arter inside the box. The midfielder takes a touch and looks destined to score but hammers wildly over. It’s a real let-off for our keeper. He’s spotted trying to blame Guendouzi for not giving him an option, but he has to take responsibility for that cock-up.
8 – Chance Gunners!
A well-worked corner sets up Ramsey who draws a save from Etheridge. From the follow-up Mustafi, on the stretch, hits over.
10’ – Panic in the Cardiff defence
Aubameyang nearly diverts Bellerin’s low drive past Etheridge. The Blues scramble the ball for a corner.
11’ – ⚽ GOOOAAAAALLLLL Arsenal 1-0 (Mustafi)
Mustafi throws himself at Xhaka’s set-piece and buries it in the top corner with his head. An unstoppable effort. On the touchline, Emery celebrates with high fives for assistant Juan Carlos Carcedo.
15’ – Close, Monreal!
The Spaniard anticipates a mistake by Manga who horribly skews a clearance in his own box. Our left-back should shoot first time but the angle is closed down quickly and the chance passes.
19’ – Double chance Cardiff
Reed takes on Sokratis and plays a dangerous ball across the six-yard box. Ward, who has escaped Mustafi, can’t reach the ball with the goal gaping. Hoilett picks up the scraps, cuts inside Bellerin and fires over on the angle. That was close.
21’ – Cynical
Cardiff break from a corner and Bellerin barrels into a man in Blue. It’s a ‘good’ foul. We’ve been pretty diligent at trying to implement the high press in midfield areas. It’s not always been successful, but we’re snapping away.
25’ Yellow card Monreal
A clumsy challenge sees the Spaniard in Anthony Taylor’s book. The incident comes moments after the referee had failed to give the Gunners a corner, a decision that left Monreal apoplectic.
29’ – Arsenal living dangerously
An overhead kick by Bobby Reid goes just over Cech’s bar as we panic trying to clear a cross.
33’ – Off the post!
Ramsey plays the ball to Lacazette who uses a run from Bellerin as a decoy to make space before unleashing a low daisy-cutter on the angle. It’s off the post and evades the men in red looking for the rebound. The Frenchman would have deserved that, he’s been lively.
35’ – Great break Gunners
Cech claims a free ball from a corner and throws it straight to Ozil on the halfway line. He feeds Lacazette and bounds forward but when the Frenchman tries to return the ball to him it’s cut out in the box.
42’ – Arter over…again!
For the second time this afternoon, Harry Arter blazes over. This time he attempts a first time volley from 18-yards out and again he skies it. He really should have tested Cech; given he was under no pressure he might even have taken a touch first.
45’ + 1 – ⚽ Goal Cardiff 1-1
The home side have been pushing for 10 minutes and their pressure finally pays dividends. Xhaka gives the ball away in midfield, the home side work the ball out to the left where Bennett, under no pressure, plays a ball into the danger zone. It falls to Victor Camarasa who evades Sokratis to smash home. Apparently the Spaniard was once in the youth ranks at Unai Emery’s Valencia. Go figure.
Half time: Cardiff 1-1 Arsenal
It’s been a very open game and we’ve had chances to put the game to bed, notably Lacazette’s effort hitting the post, but Cardiff fully deserve their equaliser. For all our closing down in tight areas in the centre of the pitch, we’ve not done it out wide and it’s from the flanks that the home side have been whipping in dangerous balls. That, coupled with our usual nerviness playing out from Cech, have dampened the momentum we built up in the opening 15 minutes. This game is there for the taking, we just need to keep our heads.
46’ – No changes at the break
Cech’s poor distribution immediately has us under pressure again. This time Hoilett lines one up from 25-yards out and fires wide. Emery has opted not to make any substitutions at half time but if things don’t change he’ll no doubt switch things up soon.
49’ – Half chance Laca
The Gunners win a corner after Monreal’s cross is cut out by Morrison at the near post. Ozil plays the ball in and Cardiff can’t clear. Lacazette is waiting to pounce but the ball won’t come down for him and he’s left stretching. His effort goes over.
51’ – Yellow card Bellerin
The Spaniard joins Monreal in the book for a deliberate handball.
53’ – Ooooh, Mustafi!
The theme in our first three games has been goals from movement down the right. Today we look more dangerous on the left with Ozil and Monreal repeatedly combining. Another corner is won from a blocked cross by the Spaniard and Mustafi tests Etheridge with another header.
58’ – Yellow card Guendouzi
The French teenager takes out Camarasa off the ball as Cardiff break. Taylor spots the offence and shows the card when the ball goes out
62’ – ⚽ GOOAAAAALLLLLLL Arsenal 2-1 (Aubameyang)
Brilliant. Just brilliant. Lacazette plays a delightful flick around the corner to Auba. He opens up his body and curls it past Etheridge for his first goal of the season. It’s such a composed finished, the type we used to get from Thierry Henry.
65’ – Yellow card Xhaka
The Swiss pulls back a Cardiff player on the touchline and goes in the book. Will Emery take him out of the danger zone like he did against Chelsea?
66’ – Sok it to ‘em
Sokratis makes an important defensive header having initially messed up positioning. It’s high-fives all round from his defensive cohorts. Ramsey claps his teammates, he can sense a swing in momentum and urges concentration.
69’ – ⚽ GOAL Cardiff 2-2
Anthony Taylor awards a free-kick for a non-existent foul by Lacazette on Arter and the resulting set piece is headed across goal before Ward heads in off the post. So much for concentrating.
71’ – Time for Torreira
Matteo Guendouzi goes off and our Uruguayan midfielder comes on. He’s immediately taken out by Hoilett.
74’ – Unlucky Laca!
Lacazette’s near post header from a Xhaka corner forces Etheridge to get down low. Mustafi is desperate to turn in the rebound but the big keeper claims the ball bravely.
77’ – Brilliant football Gunners
Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil and Lacazette combine with quick one-touch football to free Bellerin. The Spaniard whips in a ball from the byline but it evades a red shirt.
79’ – Watch out Arsenal!
Cardiff’s tenacious pressing twice wins the ball in dangerous areas resulting in half chances.
81’ – ⚽ GOOOAAAAAALLLLL Arsenal 3-2 (Lacazette)
An awesome finish from our man of the match! Torreira feeds Lacazette who escapes Bamba on the turn and smashes high into the roof of the net at the near post. He deserves that goal for a performance brimming with energy and forward intent.
83’ – Ch-ch-changes
Ozil goes off to be replaced by Danny Welbeck’s energy. Neil Warnock, the fat troll, responds by replacing Danny Ward with Kenneth Zohore.
87’ – More changes
Mkhitaryan comes on for Aubameyang and Gary Madine replaces Camarasa. Not long after the fourth official confirms there’s
90 + 1’ – So close to an equaliser
WTF Cech! Morrison heads over from three yards out after our keeper is caught in no man’s land. It’s all come from another set piece. We’ve been terrible defending them today.
90 + 3’ – Yellow card Arter
The midfielder takes out Torreira as Arsenal look to break.
90 + 4’ – Last chance Cardiff
Xhaka is penalised for handball and the Blues have another chance to loft the ball into Cech’s box. What havoc will ensue? None, thankfully. It sails out for a goal-kick. The travelling support breathe a sigh of relief. “Unai Emery’s Red Army,” they sing as the Gunners break. Lacazette and Ramsey both have chances to put a gloss on things bu Etheridge is equal to them before the whistle blows.
Full time: Cardiff 2-3 Arsenal
An important three points for the Gunners before the Interlull. The difference came courtesy of two brilliant finishes by players that cost us the best part of £112 million. Aubameyang and Lacazette demonstrated sheer quality and it just about covers up for our deficiencies defending set pieces. On this occasion anyway. We’ve still got lots of work to do but after a terrible run of results on the road in 2018 it’s great to have our first away points under the new boss. We’re into the top half of the table!