By Reece Chambers
Despite losing 2-3 to Arsenal on Sunday at the Cardiff City Stadium, Bobby Reid’s performance showed why Neil Warnock paid £13.5million to acquire the forward’s services from Bristol City in the summer.
For a striker who scored 21 goals in all competitions last season, you would be forgiven for thinking that Reid was purchased by Cardiff for his goals. Indeed, Reid’s goal-scoring form will be crucial to their fight against relegation, but so far this season Reid has showed a different side to his game.
In what looked to a rotational attacking formation on Sunday against Arsenal, Reid interchanged well with fellow forwards Danny Ward and Junior Hoilett to pose Arsenal some serious problems.
What troubled the Gunners most was the attacking press that Cardiff executed to high success in Arsenal’s final third. Central to such a system was the tenacity and commitment from Reid to close down the Arsenal defensive line high up the pitch.
Just half a minute into the match, Reid had spearheaded an aggressive press on the Arsenal backline; forcing Petr Cech into a serious goalkeeping error – but Harry Arter was unable to punish the Czech goalkeeper from 10 yards.
It was a constant theme throughout the game to see Reid leading the attacking line – pressing against the Arsenal pressure – in a valiant effort to try and create opportunities for his side.
His pace, too, stretched a vulnerable and uneasy Arsenal defence that would have been punished by a team with more quality. ‘Quality’ – or the lack of it – might just be a word we repeat a lot this season as Cardiff aim to remain in the Premier League. So much so, the pace and commitment of Reid to win the ball back can only take the team so far; as so proved on Sunday.
With that said, it could well be up to Reid to rediscover last season’s goal-scoring form – that got him a move to the Premier League – in order for the Bluebirds to survive. His partnership with Danny Ward was an untested one before Sunday but definitely gave reasons for optimism.
The pair combined well on a number of occasions to test the Arsenal defence and Ward finally got the goal he deserved on 70 minutes. Reid created a good chance in the first half, too, but Ward was inches away from reaching the cross.
When you take a step back to evaluate Sunday’s game, it looked like a good old-fashioned Cup tie. A packed-out home crowd. Excitement around the stadium. Everything from the half-and-half scarves to the arrival of the Arsenal coach made it a spectacle that the Premier League provides when a top six team comes to town.
Whether or not Cardiff will be able to deal with the challenges faced against Premier League opposition remains to be seen. Their endeavour and commitment to the cause could not be faulted on Sunday but the reality of the situation is that the lost the match as a result of missed chances.
Bobby Reid played an important role in Cardiff efforts to push Arsenal all the way on Sunday, but they ultimately fell short. In order to prove his Premier League worth this season, Reid will have to convert such hard work into goals to help his side avoid relegation.