Well, that was a game and a half!
The Premier League produced yet another classic as Arsenal defeated Cardiff 3-2 at the Cardiff City stadium. On paper many expected Arsenal to win. Cardiff are new comers in the league and they had not scored a league goal until this match.
This was much more than just a regulation win for Arsenal. Their away form this year has been atrocious. This was only their second win on the road in the PL in 2018. They only took 16 points on the road last year. That is less than 17th place Southampton who had 17 points. They also won only 4 of their 19 away games last year.
Add to that the fact that Arsenal also lost to 2 of the 3 newly promoted teams last year away from home and this starts looking like a really tricky fixture. The victory vs Huddersfield too was a scrappy 1-0 in Arsene Wenger’s last game for Arsenal.
Nonetheless, Arsenal’s defensive stumbles have been emphasized time and time again on their travels. Here too, they conceded 2 goals from close range which could have been avoided for some better defensive management.
They almost gifted Cardiff the lead early in the game when Petr Cech’s misplaced pass fell to Harry Arter, only for him to shoot it over. A bullet header for Mustafi put Arsenal into the lead. That would do Mustafi a world of good. Lacazette hit the post with a sizzling effort from the edge of the box, showing his eagerness to get a goal and stay in the starting XI.
At the end of the half, Cardiff pounced on Xhaka’s misplaced pass to produce a tap in equalizer. In the second half, Arsenal started playing more expansively with Mesut Ozil getting on the ball a lot more. Arsenal’s second was a goal which would put a smile on all of the Arsenal fans faces. Not only did Aubameyang score but he linked up with Lacazette to do so, a partnership which will be crucial for Arsenal in the future. This would have really lifted the mood for the traveling fans.
But then of course, in classic Arsenal fashion, they conceded from a freekick. The set piece exposed Arsenal’s zonal marking system yet again with Aaron Ramsey left to tussle with Sean Morrison. Danny Ward headed in his cutback header to level the score up.
Usually at this point, quite a few heads drop. In a classic Arsenal story, Cardiff would probably nick it at the end but that wasn’t to happen. Arsenal showed at Chelsea that they can fight no matter what score is. Finally the goal came, and it came for Alex Lacazette. A true strikers’ finish. He rifled it throught Etheridge’s near post. This was the sort of quality Cardiff may not have come across in the Championship but in the PL, vs a top 6 side the level is far higher.
It was a narrow win but mentally it would do Arsenal so much good. Aubameyang and Lacazette were finally played together and they seem to be happy doing so. Mesut Ozil too played well, more so in the second half. He was eager to get on the ball and display his passing skills. Those rumors of a rift between him and Emery seem to be fading away.
Arsenal can head into the international break content with the displays they’ve put in the first 4 games.
Featured Image via AM onpoint tv.
Cech Image via Transfer Tavern.
Lacazette/Aubameyang Image via 360naijang.
Lacazette Image via Dailymail.