Bluebirds Battered: Cardiff 0 – 3 Arsenal – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Cardiff 0 – 3 Arsenal

Following a steady win against Marseille in the Champions League, Arsenal were looking to go seven points clear in the Premier League. However, a plucky Cardiff side were standing in their way.[quote_right]”Arsenal continued to keep the ball well, despite some excellent pressing from The Bluebirds all across the pitch…”[/quote_right]

The Gunners started brightly. In fact, it took Jack Wilshere just over a minute to rattle a long-range effort off the Cardiff crossbar.

Following that chance, Arsenal continued to keep the ball well, despite some excellent pressing from The Bluebirds all across the pitch.

Apart from a bizarre event which saw Giroud stop play in front of goal when he thought he was offside – despite the flag staying down, both sides were enjoying only half chances.

Until of course, Aaron Ramsey decided to rob his boyhood club of a clean sheet in the twenty-ninth minute. Ozil whipped in a superb cross from midfield, and Ramsey guided the ball into the far corner with an elegant header. He didn’t celebrate, but I definitely did.

Ramsey’s goal injected the game with some energy. Cardiff were doing their best to respond, but Arsenal kept sweeping forward with Ozil spearheading midfield plays. Jack Wilshere was also in the mix more often than not.

Unfortunately though, the half time whistle blew when Arsenal were only one goal to the good. It was a good first half, but there was a lot more to be done.

The second half wasnt far more hectic.

Cardiff began to impose their dominance in the early stages, testing Szczesney again and again, but each time the Pole was equal.[quote_left]”Cardiff had certainly put up a fight, but Arsenal’s resilience eventually shone through.”[/quote_left]

The Gunners were keeping their cool in defence, with Arteta doing a good job in front of the back four. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s attack were struggling to create. All in all, the entire second half was a defensive battle for Arsenal, until the eighty-sixth minute that is.

Mesut Ozil was fed the ball on the edge of the box, where he delicately picked out substitute Flamini’s run inside the area. Mathieu hit the ball first time, leaving the Goalkeeper with no chance.

Just over five minutes later, Ramsey played through Walcott, another substitute,  down the right-flank. The Englishman drove into the box, and laid the ball off to Ramsey, who had continued his run. As per usual these days, Aaron set himself, and finished with confidence into the roof of the net.

It took its time, but the game was finally wrapped up. Cardiff had certainly put up a fight, but Arsenal’s resilience eventually shone through. The final whistle soon blew, and Arsenal were seven points clear. Lovely.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Szczesney: [8/10]
Another superb game from the Pole. He made a number of reflex saves, dealt with corners and crosses well, and looked commanding all game. Wojer is definitely in top form.

Sagna: [7/10]
Bacary wasup and down the right flank all afternoon, providing Arsenal with some much-needed width. He put in one or two good crosses, and did his defensive duties too.

Mertesacker: [7/10]
Wasn’t really tested directly, but Per did a fine job of reading the game as usual, and he no doubt had a part to play in Arsenal’s solid set peice defending.

Koscielny: [7.5/10]
Laurent was as solid as ever today. He cleaned up all loose balls, battled with Fraizer Campbell and looked in control at all times. Did well when defending set pieces also.

Gibbs: [7/10]
Much like Sagna, Kieran did his best to provide Arsenal with width. Defensively he was as good as he could have been, given that Cazorla left him to deal with attacks alone for much of the game. Had a few chances to make things happen offensively, but didn’t.

Ramsey: [8.5/10] – MOTM
Aaron has done it yet again. His header to break the deadlock in the first half was perfect, and he made his roof-of-the-net belter to end the game look easy. On top of his goals, Aaron worked hard defensively, and helped drive Arsenal forward when he got on the ball.

Arteta: [7.5/10]
Mikel started the game a little edgy, but he grew into it. He showed some great touches under pressure, a good range of passing, and he did well to help break up play in midfield from start to finish.

Cazorla: [6/10]
Santi misplaced pass after pass after pass, and created almost nothing for Arsenal. He had one half-chance which he couldn’t finish, but otherwise spent most of his afternoon wandering around.

Wilshere: [7.5/10]
Almost grabbed another quick opener, but his long-range shot could only rattle the bar. Jack always wanted the ball, and tried his best to help create opportunities for Giroud. He also produced some great defensive play.

Ozil: [6.5/10]
His first assist was a brilliantly accurate cross from far out, and his second was a delicately weighted pass into the feet of Flamini. Both were beautiful. However, apart from his two assists, it wasn’t a game to remember for Mesut. Not in form, and you could see it in his face when he was subbed off in the final minute.

Giroud: [6.5/10]
Puzzled the entire crowd when he stopped in his tracks in front of goal. He thought he was offside, but the flag never went up. Thankfully, his silly decision didn’t affect the outcome of the game. Otherwise, Giroud still worked hard, trying to link up with the midfield, and even did well helping to defend set pieces.

Subs:

Flamini: [7/10]
Came on with fifteen minutes to go, added some defensive steel, and grabbed a brilliant goal too. Not bad at all.

Walcott: [7/10]
Theo was introduced with just a few moments to go, but he still managed to assist Aaron Ramsey. Can’t wait to see him get back into the swing of things.

Monreal: [6.5/10]
Came on to help shore up the defence, and he did so. He also showed some nice touches in the final third, but blasted a shot way over the bar when he could have passed.

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[title]Bluebirds Battered[/title]

In the end, it was a bit of a battering. However, the game itself was a bit of a struggle.

Cardiff were no push overs, and they came at Arsenal with purpose. Thankfully, some stern defending and excellent goalkeeping kept the Bluebirds at bay. Ramsey as usual inspired The Gunners with two stunning finishes, and by the time the final whistle blew, you had to take your hat off to Arsenal’s strong performance.

Cazorla and Ozil were both lacking in terms of their performances today, but Mesut can happily fall back on two brilliant assists. Cazorla has no such luxury. With Walcott and Rosicky waiting in the wings, I think it’s time to switch up the status of Cazorla, at least until he picks up the pace.

Next up, Hull at home. Let’s be having ’em.

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Image: Arsenal

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