I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t used to Arsenal stressing me out like that before. Sunday’s match against Cardiff proved a tricky fixture but we prevailed in the end and brought home all 3 points.
Prior to the match I predicted that this was going to be a tough game for the Gunners and I wasn’t expecting a comfortable win. In fact I had said that Cardiff were going to put at least one past us, based on how suspect our defence has been recently, and make it a really ‘nervy’ game. Well they did just that. In fact they put 2 past us and and really gave us a scare up until the point Lacazette scored the winner.
In fact, those two goals were Cardiff’s first 2 goals in the Premier League. A side who have struggled to score this season so far put two goals in, which just goes to show how brittle our defence is at this moment. But it’s not all the defence’s fault. Stupid mistakes and decisions in the midfield caused us to give the opposition possession, which they then took full advantage of. But I’ll dig into that a bit later.
I must say we started off well. We bossed possession, looked threatening and seemed comfortable with the ball, well, everyone besides the keeper seemed comfortable. There were a few instances where Cech had my hair standing up straight and screaming to the point where my neighbours may have thought there was an act of domestic violence going on. Now I don’t know if it was also the defenders’ fault for passing it back to him in uncomfortable circumstances at times, but I do know that every goalkeeper should have the decision-making skills to boot it long if they’re not sure what to do. Not pass it to the fucking attacker right in front of you and give him the chance to score. Thank God Harry Arter wasn’t accurate. He must’ve been dumbfounded, just like us, at the chance he’d been given, which put him off and subsequently led him to missing the goal. Either that, or he’s really kak at shooting and needs more practice.
But alas we won a corner, to which Xhaka put a decent ball in for Mustafi to head a bullet of a header in past Etheridge. One nil to the Arsenal, great! And we nearly made it two nil, but Lacazette was denied by the post. So the chances were there, and with the time dribbling down and us in control, we seemed to be going into half time with the lead. Enter Xhaka…
“Play it to Guendouzi! Play it to Guendouzi!” were the words muttered out of my mouth as I watched Granit Xhaka take his time in deciding his next pass. But a young Bellerin bombing forward provoked the Swiss into trying something more delicate than safe, and the delicacy just wasn’t there. That goes without saying, that the pass was shit, the decision making in the moment was shit, and Cardiff went on to score the equalizer before half time. Shit.
The team got on well in the second half and you could sense we were hungry. Mesut Özil came alive in the second half, after having gone missing for the full first half, and was involved in the build up to Arsenal’s second goal: Özil to Lacazette…Lacazette to Aubameyang… Aubameyang takes a touch…shoots…GOAL! Finally we saw our two star strikers combine and score what was a peach of a goal by Aubameyang. But our celebrations were cut short not more than ten minutes later. Harry Arter went down in the middle of our half after Lacazette seemingly fouled him. Wrong decision from the ref to give them a free kick, as the replay showed that Lacazette made no contact after all. I’ll tell you now, where Arter lacks in shooting, he certainly makes up for in falling over himself.
The set piece looked like one from the training ground, and worked to perfection. Danny Ward, who looked quite a threat every time Cardiff went forward, finally got his first goal for the club and equalized the score. That could’ve killed the game for us, but our desire and this new found will to fight for a win, kicked in again. Emery brought on Lucas Torreira after the goal was scored and the little Uruguayan had an instant impact on the game. Not only did he have a 100% pass accuracy for the time that he was on, but one of those passes found Lacazette in the box, who rifled it past Etheridge into the top corner. 3 -2 to the Gunners, with Torreira getting his first Arsenal assist and Lacazette getting his first goal of the season.
We rode the game out pretty well for the last 10 minutes. Emery brought on Mkhitaryan and Welbeck in the dying minutes of the game and I was quite puzzled by this decision. “Why would we bring on more attackers when we’ve got the lead and there’s so little time?” I was so used to us bringing on an extra defender for this kind of situation. But despite some last minute play which led to a Lacazette shot being saved by Etheridge, the attacking subs didn’t have much impact on the game.
Full time whistle blew and jubilation ensued. We won our first away game under Emery. It was a fantastic game to watch for a neutral but a very nerve wracking one for us as fans. A lot of our players put a good shift in, but I was particularly impressed with Ramsey, Mustafi, Torreira and Lacazette. Ramsey worked exceptionally hard in that match and did some good running on and off the ball. Mustafi looks like he’s turning into a very decent player and I hope he keeps playing like this consistently. Torreira, once again, a game changer and Lacazette looks like the striker we’ve been missing for a long time. His pace, strength and positioning as well as his awareness and desire will only do us good this season. He was my man of the match on the day. I also want to mention how great the away fans were on Sunday. Here I am in South Africa, watching the game and all I could hear on the television were them. Wish I was there for the atmosphere!
Despite the win, I’m a bit sad now. International breaks are never enjoyable so soon into the new season. We’ve gone into this one on a high at least, and return on the 15th of September to face a struggling Newcastle away. Hopefully we can bring another 3 points back home with us.
Come on you Gunners!