Arsenal visit Zippo's school of defending!
Updated: Oct 12
Cardiff 2-3 Arsenal
Arsenal faced Cardiff in a lunchtime K.O. The kind of match in previous seasons that would have ended up with custard pies thrown and squirts in the eye, surely in the 'new era' a red nose could be avoided.
All the pre-match banter surrounded our favourite cartoon villain Neil 'Darstardly' Warnock and how his team were looking to 'rough up Ramsey' in a case of 'needs must'. Would Arsenal fall for this slippery plan and get drawn into a rugby match? Could Ozil visit those kind of trenches? Would Guendouzi be eaten alive? Only time would tell.
The team news when it arrived threw everyone a curve ball, Emery choosing to start Guendouzi ahead of Torriera with Ozil replacing Mkhitaryan. Iwobi was this weeks 'sickly child' left at home and Lacazette got the chance to play up front in the same team as his best buddy Aubameyang. Starting line up: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette. A team in my mind not really fit to protect the back four, in midfield somebody would have to drop. The omens? well Cardiff hadn't scored all season and Arsenal had lost 8 of their last 9 away games.... you've got to love those omens!
The Circus ...I mean Match
It took just one minute for the crowd to start shouting "he's behind you". Cech taking his first back pass of the afternoon and going all 'clown like' on us under pressure, just about scrambling the ball away. The mood had been set, Cardiff smelt blood and continued to press high up the pitch, six minutes later Cech was at it again, dwelling on another back pass he tried to find Guendouzi when Guendouzi wasn't there instead playing a straight pass to Harry Arter, the Republic of Ireland international seemed to be so shocked at the opportunity given to him he some how managed to clear the bar. A major let off for Arsenal in the opening minutes and one of many chances given to the opposition needlessly.
Despite looking all 'Shaking Stevens' at the back going forward Arsenal were beginning to cause Cardiff a few problems of their own, a particularly clever corner routine led to a good Ramsey strike, the Welshman was combining well with Lacazette and Aubameyang. Then on 10 mins Arsenal took the lead from a corner #collectorsitem Mustafi forcing his way past his marker and powering in header, keeper no chance, 1-0 to the Arsenal.
"How s**t must we be, were winning away" came the chant.. #bantz
Further chances came for both sides, Monreal failing to capitalise on an error in the Cardiff back line and the Bluebirds themselves missing an easy tap in after Mustafi lost his man in the penalty area. Arsenal still looked capable of extending their lead on the break Lacazette striking the post and after a quick throw out from Cech just failing to chose the right pass in a 2 on 2 attack. This move reminded me of how Man City play and demonstrated the need for quick thinking when playing out from the back something Cech doesn't do enough of for me.
Cardiff were growing in confidence creating chances down our right, that was Arsenal's second weak link, if they couldn't force Cech into an error then they would just double up on the flank, Bennett skinning Bellerin a couple of times. Not so much the fault this time of the young Spaniard but moreover a lack of protection from our midfield, Guendouzi was at least trying to get across but Ozil, well he just stood pointing whilst playing with his hair, not a good half or look for the absent German. Cardiff continued to threaten, finding spaces in and around the Arsenal box, Arter again fluffing his lines when the goal was gaping. The Gunners needed to get to the break without conceding but in injury time Xhaka struck. The Swiss midfielder who seems to excel in losing possession added to those stats playing an awful cross-field pass under no pressure which was easily intercepted by Cardiff, the cross from our right again wasn't closed down and as the ball broke inside the Arsenal box Monreal lost Camarasa who gleefully rifled the ball past Cech. It was coming, Arsenal's soft centre exposed once more and Cardiff went into the break with all the momentum.
No changes at half-time from Emery this week, perhaps he liked what he saw in the first 45? Whatever he said however didn't seem to sink in to Petr Cech. Within a minute of the restart the Arsenal number one was again trying and failing to pass out of the back giving Cardiff another chance, surely Leno has to be given a go!
Thankfully the jitters didn't set in and Arsenal began to control the play enjoying the majority of possession, Mustafi going close from a corner and the impressive Lacazette looking dangerous with Aubameyang. Only Hoilett for Cardiff causing Arsenal any concern, but as Hoilett is a bit toilet everything seemed calm. Ozil was beginning to find space which wasn't there in the first half and on 61 mins he played a ball into Lacazette whose neat flick played in AuBANGeyang! The Gabon striker finishing brilliantly from the edge of the box, 2-1 to Arsenal and well deserved.
Cardiff came back again though! This time from a free-kick which was cleverly won by a diving Harry Arter in the 68th minute. The resulting free kick was not dealt with by Arsenal, missing two headers, Danny Ward from the penalty spot unmarked - 2-2. Why do we do it to ourselves?
Torriera came on for Guendouzi, Arsenal looked more solid and again applied pressure, Ozil, Lacazette and Bellerin all combining in a triangle of passes for a Ramsey effort. Then on 80min Torriera found Lacazette with a slide rule pass the French striker finishing on the turn high up in the corner of the net. LASHazette, 3-2 Arsenal. Could Arsenal hold on?
Well just about, Arsenal did try and shoot themselves in the foot with x3 free-kicks in injury time one in particular leaving Cech in No-Man's land, however Arsenal made it over the line.
3 delicious points! Yum Yum
Lacazette's growing partnership with Aubameyang and that Torriera cameo!
Cech, the defensive mindset and that Ozil first half.
Emery really has to start with his strongest team. For me that means Torriera in replacing Xhaka and Ozil on the bench replaced by either Iwobi, Welbeck or Mykitaryan. The German can do more damage coming on when teams tire. The playing out from the back system is not going to change, Arsenal need more training but also the correct personnel, Leno in for Cech for me as well.
Cech: Just stop it. 2/10
Bellerin: Did well going forward but left exposed by zero protection at times 6/10
Mustafi: Great headed goal but loses his marker to easily in defence 6/10
Sokratis: Unconventional defending at times but effective 7/10
Monreal: Great going forward, lost player for first Cardiff goal 6/10
Guendouzi: Worked hard at trying to help centre backs and tidy 7/10
Xhaka: Just stop it 4/10
Ramsey: Better at attacking then defending 7/10
Ozil: 0/10 first half picked up when there was more space in second 4/10
Aubameyang: Looked dangerous at times and took his goal well 7/10
Lacazette: Worked hard, combined well with midfield, always a threat, great winner 8/10
Torriera: great cameo 7/10
Welbeck: ran a bit 6/10
Mykitaryan ran a bit less 5/10
Up next....... an Interlull.... zzzzz then Newcastle H'way!