By Reece Chambers
Alexandre Lacazette’s emphatic strike in the 81st minute gave Unai Emery’s Arsenal all three points at the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday.
Goals from Shkodran Mustafi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette cancelled out Cardiff City’s first Premier League goal of the season from midfielder Victor Camarasa and a fantastic header from Danny Ward.
Despite coming from behind twice, Cardiff City now see themselves without a win in their first four Premier League games this season.
Arsenal opened the scoring for the first time this season with a powerful header on 12 minutes from Shkodran Mustafi. On the stroke of half time, Victor Camarasa equalised for the home side with Cardiff City’s first goal in their return to the Premier League.
Before the game, it was clear that the form of Arsenal’s attacking line would be key to the outcome of this game. Alexandre Lacazette shone for the north London club with a goal and an assist to his name, constantly linking up with Aubameyang, Ramsey and Ozil.
The Bluebirds had start the game well with high pressing on the Arsenal defence. Petr Cech gifted the ball to Harry Arter after 30 seconds but the midfielder was unable to capitalise on such a glorious chance.
As expected, Arsenal dominated most of the possession in the opening stages but the Bluebirds remained firm. And, despite conceding in the 12th minute from a set-piece, Arsenal failed to create many clear chances.
Bobby Decordova-Reid shone for the home side in the first half with some good interplay with fellow forward Danny Ward. Decordova-Reid created a great chance for Ward on 18 minutes – flashing the ball across the six-yard box – but Ward was unable to get to the ball.
With half an hour played, the game looked to be in the balance. It was clear from the possession in the opening half an hour that Unai Emery’s Arsenal were dominant with the ball and they had created some half-chances but nothing clear cut.
Nevertheless, Cardiff had certainly been given chances with Arter and Decordova-Reid going close for the home side.
With half-time looming, the Bluebirds would have been ruing their missed opportunities in the first half. However, a poor midfield pass from Granit Xhaka gave Cardiff one final chance to get the ball into the box and Victor Camarasa took his chance well, finishing past Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal.
At half time, Emery would have been disappointed to have not turned such dominance with the ball into clear chances. That said, Neil Warnock’s home side worked tirelessly in the first half and deserved to still be in the game. A mixture of tenacious defending and patient attacking build-up proved to be a successful combination in the first half.
However, Arsenal regained their lead midway through the second half – on 62 minutes – through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who showed his Premier League quality to slot the ball past Neil Etheridge in the Cardiff goal.
Despite going behind, Warnock’s men kept a foothold in the game and tested Arsenal on numerous occasions. The home side scored their second of the game through Danny Ward on 70 minutes when he headed well past Petr Cech to level the scores.
The Gunners ramped up the pressure with 15 minutes remaining and came close to retaking the lead when Hector Bellerin and Aaron Ramsey combined well. The Welsh midfielder, however, was unable to reach Bellerin’s cross following good interplay.
Emery’s side retook the lead in the 81st minute when a great pass from Lucas Torreira was finished emphatically by Alexandre Lacazette. For all of Cardiff’s hard work, some terrific movement in the box from Lacazette proved just too much for the home side’s defence.
And, despite finishing the match with three strikers on the pitch, Cardiff were unable to find an equaliser. Their closest opportunity came from captain Sean Morrison in the 90th minute but his header sailed over the bar.
Defeat for Warnock’s men leaves them without a win so far this season as the international break starts next week.