Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Rosicky, Flamini, Walcott, Gnabry
Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Cardiff City today.
Arsene Wenger made three changes from the midweek team which beat Marseille. Mikel Arteta returned to midfield, Kieran Gibbs came back in for Nacho Monreal, and Santi Cazorla took the place of Tomas Rosicky in the attacking trio.
Having scored after 30 seconds against Marseille in midweek, Jack Wilshere almost did it again. Arsenal came forward with Ramsey and Giroud combining, Wilshere picked it up deep, and from the edge of the D cracked a shot which cannoned back off the underside of the bar.
There was a scare over Per Mertesacker a few moments later when the German clashed heads with Bacary Sagna, and while he was off the pitch the home side created a decent chance which was headed wide by Frazier Campbell.
In the 15th minute Olivier Giroud found himself with the ball at his feet behind the Cardiff defence, but the Frenchman stopped thinking he was offside. There was no flag however, and his pause allowed the defender to get back and prevent the shot on goal. Replays showed Ozil did flick it on to him and he was in an offside position but PLAY THE WHISTLE!
But we were ahead in the 29th minute. Arsenal probed for space in the Cardiff half, the ball came to Mesut Ozil who fired in a cross from the left of the area. Aaron Ramsey met it with a thumping header into the top corner to make it 1-0. The Welshman didn’t celebrate the goal and got a round of applause from the Cardiff fans.
Kieran Gibbs picked up a 33rd minute yellow and Cardiff caused some danger in the Arsenal area from the subsequent free kick, but couldn’t find a decisive touch.
Ramsey almost had a second as the half drew to a close. He was set up by Giroud in the area, he cut inside the defender, looked for space but Cardiff closed him down quickly and forced the shot wide and high.
Arsenal picked up where they left off in the second half and nearly got a second goal. A good passing move saw Ramsey get between two defenders and to the goal line. He pulled it back for Giroud but his side-footed effort was cleared off the line by a handily placed defender.
Cardiff were almost level a couple of moments later. They crossed from our right hand side, it deflected up into the air, Frazier Campbell got above Gibbs and headed it down towards the bottom corner, but Szczesny got down quickly and kept it out with a big hand.
The big Pole had to be alert to stop a Theophile-Catherine effort a few minutes later as the home side put some pressure on the Gunners. Olivier Giroud saw a right footed effort saved by Marshall but the game was being played in midfield with neither side dominating or creating clear cut chances.
Jack Wilshere created a half-chance, playing Cazorla into the box, but the ball got caught under the Spaniard’s feet and his shot was straight at the keeper. The former Malaga man was then replaced by Mathieu Flamini as the game headed for its final stages.
The Gunners had Szczesny to thank again as he came out well to smother at the feet of Mutch right on the edge of the Arsenal area, and his positioning was important again as he stopped a Whittingham shot.
Nacho Monreal then came on to replace Jack Wilshere as Arsene Wenger looked to see the game out. Aaron Ramsey tried to make it safe, shooting wide from 35 yards inside the last 10 minutes, before Szczesny was forced into action again making a save from a Cardiff set-piece.
But Arsenal secured the points in the 87th minute when Mathieu Flamini got the second. Ramsey spread it from the left hand side, into Ozil on the right hand side of the the box. The German played it behind the defenders, finding the onrushing Flamini who smashed it home from close range.
Walcott came on for Ozil in the 90th minute, and was involved in the third goal. Arsenal broke upfield, Walcott played it into the path of Ramsey in the area, he took a touch and fired it into the top of the net to make it 3-0.
So, it’s another win, another clean sheet, and another three delicious points makes for a good Gooner weekend.