- Arsenal looking for back-to-back wins, Cardiff chasing their first win of the season.
FULL TIME: Cardiff 2 Arsenal 3
Arsenal win away for the first time this season, but they will head back across the Severn knowing they have been in a battle. A performance that raises as many questions as answers perhaps, but they could not afford to drop points after losing their first two games.
94 minutes – Cardiff 2 Arsenal 3
Clumsy from Xhaka, to concede a free-kick. The ball bounces up and hits his arm twice.
But the free-kick is too heavy – Ralls tries to pick out Morrison at the back post but he overhit it.
92 minutes – Cardiff 2 Arsenal 3
Another chance for Cardiff to send the ball into the box, Xhaka clears. Cynical challenge from Arter – three games, three bookings – as he cleans Torreira out.
90 minutes – Cardiff 2 Arsenal 3
A scrapppy passage of play ends with an Arsenal foul on the halfway line. Cardiff are sending Bamba and Morrison up from the back – four minutes of stoppage time.
WHAT A CHANCE! Arsenal not dealing with the second ball – Cech sells himself but Morrison heads over at the back post.
88 minutes – Cardiff 2 Arsenal 3
Torreira has looked the part since his introduction, it is curious that he has not been trusted from the start yet or maybe he is not quite fit. Mkhitaryan for Aubameyang is Arsenal’s third and final change.
86 minutes – Cardiff 2 Arsenal 3
Arsenal had about 90% possession before their third goal, but now they can barely string three passes together. They cannot allow Cardiff easy territorty with the physical threat they pose on crosses.
Better from the away side for lead a counter-attack through Ramsey and keep it.
83 minutes – Cardiff 2 Arsenal 3
We questioned Arsenal’s game management earlier, now they have seven minutes plus stoppage time to manage if they are to head up the M4 with three points.
GOAAALLLLLLLL! Arsenal lead 3-2
Magnificent finish from Lacazette – question of offside, but he gets a yard and lashes the ball into the roof of the net from an acute angle.
78 minutes – Cardiff 2 Arsenal 2
That was horrendous play from Mustafi as the last man – tries to take a touch and then gets out-muscled by Reid. Under pressure from Monreal and slipping slightly, his shot finds Cech. Cardiff still threatening.
76 minutes – Cardiff 2 Arsenal 2
Lovely move from Arsenal starts with Torreira wrapping a pass into Xhaka, who finds Ozil who releases Bellerin. Cross is whipped in but Etheridge just about manages to get a touch. Could have gone anywhere, but fortunately for Cardiff it was safe.
74 minutes – Cardiff 2 Arsenal 2
This game has been an exhibition on how not to defend set-pieces – this time Lacazette wins a glancing header but Etheridge gets down well to save and holds onto it.
72 minutes – Cardiff 2 Arsenal 2
Torreira on for Arsenal, who are searching to regain the lead for the third time.
GOOOOAAAALLLLL! Cardiff equalise
Morrison wins the header at the back post, and Ward is free on the penalty spot to find the bottom corner with a planted header.
68 minutes – Cardiff 1 Arsenal 2
Lazy lean into his opposite number from Ozil gifts Cardiff a cheap free-kick. Sokratis finds himself in a really contorted position and grabs Morrison by the neck to compensate. He is really lucky to get away with that.
Back to back long Cardiff throws are survived by Arsenal, but the second brings another corner. And Xhaka heads out for another. Pressure building.
65 minutes – Cardiff 1 Arsenal 2
Arsenal let the first-half drift by with a one-goal lead, surely they have to try and kill this off with more goals. They simply are not set up to absorb pressure and balls into the box.
GOOOOOOAAAAAALLL! 2-1 Arsenal
Textbook front two play from Lacazette and Aubameyang – the former Dortmund man latches on to Lacazette’s flick around the corner and finds the bottom corner from more than 20 yards out.
60 minutes – Cardiff 1 Arsenal 1
Better from Ozil has he collects the ball on the half-turn in the 10 position, but it just won’t fall for Arsenal in the final-third despite their mounting possession. Bellerin has nobody to combine with and is resorting to aimless crosses as a result.
58 minutes – Cardiff 1 Arsenal 1
Ward runs Mustafi down the line, but his shot is well over the bar. Taylor played advantage but books Guendouzi for a foul on Camarasa once the ball is dead.
56 minutes – Cardiff 1 Arsenal 1
Arsenal now dominant, after that flurry from the hosts at the start of the second half. Torreira, Welbeck and Mkhitaryan are options from the bench. Bellerin has been isolated again with Ozil a nominal right-winger.
53 minutes – Cardiff 1 Arsenal 1
Arsenal settling into a lengthy period of possession, and this time Ozil drifts to the left flank and feeds Monreal. He fizzes a low cross that is cleared for a corner.
Mustafi gets clear of Bamba for the second time in the game, but his header into the ground is a comfortable save for Etheridge.
50 minutes – Cardiff 1 Arsenal 1
Arsenal threaten from another corner, good strength shown from Lacazette to roll Camarasa, but he cannot quite get his knee over a swivelled volley from close range.
48 minutes – Cardiff 1 Arsenal 1
Ramsey has been Arsenal’s best player today – probably along with Lacazette – but his attempted through ball to Ozil misses it’s target.
It’s had a strange patter this game – Arsenal playing short out of the ball, but they also look to have played numerous long balls towards the forwards. You’d think that would suit Cardiff.
47 minutes – Cardiff 1 Arsenal 1
The second half begins in a similar way to the first, with Cech mis-placing a pass as Arsenal try to build play from the back. Hoilett’s shot was wild and lets Arsenal and their goalkeeper off the hook.
Xhaka’s giveaway produced the goal
Granit Xhaka getting it in the neck as the players walk off for half-time and there is no defending him on this one – a quite ridiculous giveaway in the last minute of the half. Tries a Hollywood pass to Bellerin, but it was mis-hit, leaving the right-back isolated. Bellerin could have done more to stop the cross, but full-backs are instructed to stay narrow nowadays.
Half time: Cardiff 1 Arsenal 1
A fair reflection of the first 45 minutes at the Cardiff City Stadium.
GOAAAALLLLLLL! Cardiff equalise
Cardiff have their first goal in the Premier League via Victor Camarasa – right on the stroke of half time.
45 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
Bellerin steps across Hoilett and gives away another foul close to the halfway line.
Cardiff launch it into the box and Morrison wins the first ball – it drops for Arter in acres of space but his volley flies over the bar.
42 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
Another fine in-swinging delivery from Hoilett, but it flies all the way through to Cech. Monreal just did enough to prevent Ward from getting off the ground. Strong spell from the home side, but Aubameyang runs Arsenal out of trouble.
40 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
Arter down for Cardiff, he looked to catch his knee while attempting a slide tackle on Ramsey. After some treatment he is back on.
37 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
Much better from Ward to hold off Mustafi and switch play, that allows Cardiff to get up the pitch but Ralls’ cross is grasped by Cech.
35 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
Arsenal then mess up a brilliant counter-attacking situation, but Lacazette cannot find Ozil with a square pass. Ozil has been quiet so far, stationed out on the right. Arsenal have to finish this game as quickly as possible because you cannot fancy them to keep a clean sheer.
33 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
ARSENAL HIT THE POST! Ramsey and Aubameyang exchange passes then the Welshman finds Lacazette. Bellerin is overlapping on his outside but the striker uses him as a decoy to find a yard for the shot. Does everything right, goes across goal, but it hits the inside of the woodwork and bounces out.
32 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
More danger in Arsenal’s box, Cardiff swing in a cross from Hoilett that is headed down by Sokratis but Reid cannot keep his overhead kick down. Cardiff still haven’t scored this season, but is is not for the want of creativity today.
29 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
Guendouzi is the Arsenal midfielder tasked with dropping between the centre backs to collect the ball and build play. The visitors have been a little loose in the last 10 minutes, but a Lacazette turnover fashions them another chance. Ozil picks out Xhaka about 25 yards from goal but he drags his shot badly wide.
26 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
Monreal is then penalised for a high foot – Arsenal may have been fortunate that Taylor blew his whistle then because Cardiff had an advantange through Ward and Reid.
Monreal is booked – Cardiff have a free-kick about 35 yards out, right of centre. Ralls floats in a cross that Cech catches.
24 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
Arsenal are leaving themselves exposed to counters, so are trying to foul high up the pitch to give themselves a chance to reorganise.
Ramsey wants a foul after Bennett looked like blocking his run, but nothing giving. Good pressure from Reid on Guendouzi forces the midfielder back to Cech who kicks long this time. Monreal round on the overlap again and is aggrieved not to get a corner.
18 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
Arsenal are counter-pressing with notably more intensity today, nipping in to win the ball back against a Cardiff team who look shaky on the ball.
Better from the home team as they finally work the ball through midfielder but Hoilett’s cross is too heavy and flies beyond the back post for a goal kick.
The danger looked gone, but Cardiff come again and stretch Arsenal. Reid gets in behind and flashes a cross along the six-yard line – Ward could not quite get his toe to the ball. Then Hoilett’s shot flies over.
15 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1
Various shades of panic in both defences is making this a really fun game. Maybe Cardiff have got slightly carried away sensing Arsenal’s vulnerabilities – but they look a bit of a rabble themselves.
Pressing from goal kicks is getting the crowd involved, but Arsenal are finding plenty of space when they do play out.
Another mistake in the Cardiff backline from Manga lets Monreal in but Etheridge smothers.
GOOOAAAALLLLLLL! 1-0 Arsenal
Thumping header from Mustafi – Cardiff will be bitterly disappointed to concede from a corner.
10 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 0
Ooohh, that was interesting from Arsenal - corner routine straight off the training ground. Played low into Lacazette at the near post who finds Ramsey with a first time flick around the corner. His shot was saved by Etheridge.
9 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 0
WHAT A CHANCE FOR CARDIFF! Cech tries to slip a 10 yard pass into midfield but it is cut out by Arter on the edge of the box but he shoots over the bar. What a let off for Arsenal. It was poor from Cech – but neither midfielder was showing for it. You need both in tune to play out.
7 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 0
Arsenal’s turn to press – a pass back to Morrison is the trigger for Aubameyang to go with Lacazette backing him up. The Cardiff defender skews a ball behind for a corner which comes to nothing.
Lacazette did go down holding his face in the area, but nowhere near enough in that to be a penalty.
4 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 0
It is Ozil from the right with Ramsey central, but the German has the freedom to drift inside.
Cardiff drop a long ball straight onto the head of Sokratis, who needs two attempts to hook over his head back down the field. Camarasa skips past Xhaka and wins a free kick close to the halfway line. Into the box it goes into the box but Cardiff are penalised for a foul.
2 minutes – Cardiff 0 Arsenal 0
That answers my question – Cardiff push up on Arsenal as they try to play out from the back and Cech almost does an Alisson. Just about gets away with a drag-back.
After that early scare, Arsenal find a few passing combinations and settle into more comfortable possession across the halfway line.
We are under way at the Cardiff City Stadium. How will the home side approach this in the opening exchanges – sit tight and hope to ease their way into the game or press Arsenal and try and force early mistakes?
Teams are in the tunnel
No needles kit changes today to satisfy sponsors and manufacturers – Cardiff are in their traditional blue with Arsenal in red and white. Lovely stuff.
Not long now…
It is a day of strike partnerships in the Premier League, with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emrick Aubameyang starting for Arsenal and Troy Deeney and Andre Gray likely to continue for Watford against Spurs at 4pm.
Wise words from Andy Hinchcliffe
On Arsenal’s full-backs leaving their centre-backs exposed, the former Blackburn full-back rightly points out that they are carrying out instructions. He says it is down to the two deep-lying central midfielders to plug the gaps.
High praise from Warnock for the only Welsh player on the pitch – Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey
“Every time I watch Wales, every time I watch Arsenal, I just think he does everything. He is a complete player,” Warnock said.
“When you look at quality even now in this league and I see a player do something I am like flabbergasted really… I just go ‘wow!’
“The gift of top players is they always have time. I remember when I was young thinking Bobby Charlton did not run around much.
“I used to think he did not do much work. Then I realised as I got older he did not do that because he used his brain and he was always on the move… he did not need to run around like everyone else.
“He (Ramsey) is like that.”
What a show of faith
Matteo Guendouzi is only the fourth teenager to start each of Arsenal’s first four matches of a Premier League season. And what illustrious company he is in: Nicolas Anelka, Cesc Fabregas…and Johan Djourou.
Five years ago today…
Arsenal signed Mesut Ozil for a then club record fee – the playmaker comes straight back into their starting XI today. As ever, his performance will be heavily scrutinised after reports of a bust-up with Emery.
Harsh on Mkhitaryan?
Arsenal’s most fruitful attacking avenue this season has been the combination between Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Hector Bellerin down their right flank. The Armenian scored and made another at Chelsea, so it seems harsh to drop him today.
It will be interesting to see where Ozil and Ramsey plays. Ozil is arguably more suited to a wide role, so he might play from the right with the Welshman central.
The XIs the old fashioned way
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Papastathopoulos, Monreal, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Cardiff: Etheridge, Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett, Camarasa, Arter, Ralls, Reid, Ward, Hoilett.
Are Arsenal ready for a scrap?
Well, we have been here before haven’t we? Arsenal on the road against unscrupulous and aggressive opponents who will soak up pressure before pumping the ball into their penalty area at every opportunity.
That will be Cardiff’s approach, although Neil Warnock might fancy getting Josh Murphy and Junior Hoilett in a foot-race with Arsenal’s high line – particularly in the channels behind Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal.
Cardiff are yet to score a goal, but have kept consecutive clean sheets so are obdurate and stable defensively. Newcastle and Huddersfield are almost Championship squads however, so this is a major step up in class.
Unai Emery secured his first league victory as Arsenal manager last Saturday against West Ham, but they were worryingly open and susceptible to counter attacks in the first 45 minutes.
That problem was alleviated following the introduction of Lucas Torreira, who is pushing for a first start today. Torreira will add greater steel and mobility to Arsenal’s midfield, which will be necessary if they keep relying on their full-backs for width.
Arsenal were a distant sixth last season because they lost at Stoke, Watford, Swansea, Bournemouth, Brighton and Newcastle, as well as drawing at Southampton, West Ham and West Brom.
For all the talk of Emery needing ‘three or four transfer windows’ to make this Arsenal team his own, winning the majority of this type of fixture looks an attainable short-term target. Arsenal need at least a 12-point improvement on their tally of 63 last season if they are to qualify for the Champions League.
Arsenal were 3-0 winners the last time these two met in the Premier League in south Wales, with Cardiff youth product Aaron Ramsey scoring twice on his return in December 2013.
Warnock even compared Ramsey to Sir Bobby Charlton during the week, but their might only be room for him or Mesut Ozil if Emery continues to play with two deep-lying midfielders. Ozil is fit and available for selection.
Eddie Nketiah was left out of Arsenal’s U23 squad for their match against Tottenham on Friday, which maybe hints that Alexandre Lacazette could start with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Nketiah on the bench.
We will find out soon enough.
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