Lacazette and Aubameyang combine to see off Cardiff
Another five goal thriller for Arsenal (but this time they win)
02 September, 2018 — By Richard Osley
FA Premier League
CARDIFF CITY 2 (Camarasa 45+2, Ward 70)
ARSENAL 3 (Mustafi 12, Aubameyang 62, Lacazette 81)
ARSENAL’S recovery from a nightmare start to the season continued this afternoon (Sunday) as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette steered the Gunners to victory at Cardiff City.
The strikers were paired together from kick-off for the first time under new manager Unai Emery and sent out a message that the partnership cold work by both finding the net. In an end-to-end encounter, which again exposed Arsenal’s fragility in defence, their clinical finishing proved decisive.
It might have been a less stressful afternoon in South Wales had Emery’s team been able to build on an early lead. Shrokdran Mustafi’s role in central defence may be under the microscrope but he enjoyed himself at the other end of the pitch when on twelve minutes he pounced to head home Granit Xhaka’s corner. There were other chances to score in the first half with Lacazette coming closest to adding to the score when he thrashed a shot against the foot of the post.
But while Arsenal dominated possession, it was hardly a surprise when the home side equalised seconds before half time as Cardiff had been gifted several opportunities previously be hesitant defending and goalkeeping. Petr Cech was almost caught with the ball in the first few minutes and later kicked the ball straight out to Harry Arter, who snatched at the invitation to score by blasting the ball too high. The guilty man was largely Xhaka for the leveller when it came. He attempted a stardust cross field path when there was no need for one; the seconds were ticking by for the half time break. It was cut out and when a cross came in, Arsenal’s defenders were left in a tangled mess as the Spaniard Victor Camarasa fired the ball past Cech.
Arsenal reset themselves and had good spells of possession again in the second half and just after the hour they were ahead again. Mesut Ozil, who drifted in and out of the match, rolled the ball through to Lacazette, whose flick set free Aubameyang to carefully place his shot with the instep past the dive of Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge. It was a classy finish, just what the Arsenal fans have been waiting for.
A one-goal lead is never going to feel safe with the way Emery’s team is currently defending, however, and sure enough Cardiff equalised again eight minutes later. They may have been lucky to have won a free kick halfway into the Arsenal half when Lacazette barely clipped Arter but the defending when the ball was flown was again below par. Arsenal were twice beaten to headers and Danny Ward, with five Arsenal players nearby acting as simply spectators, looped a header beyond Cech.
Lacazette, the clear man of the match, pursued his goal doggedly. His first opportunity to play in the first XI this season, the Frenchman deserved his match-winning goal with a little under ten minutes to play. It was a cracker too. Sub Lucas Torreira slipped a pass beyond the Cardiff defence and from a tight angle, Lacazette crashed the ball past Etheridge for one of his best goals in an Arsenal shirt, certainly one of the most important. There were one or two frights at the back before the final whistle but Arsenal held on for the three points and a second consecutive league win.
“They were playing in pre-season and they are playing minutes in each match and today they started,” said Emery afterwards. “We are continuing to work on the combinations and also keep our mentality and our ideas. I think the two players scored goals and helped us. We can continue to work to find the best performance with each player.”
He added: “I spoke with Lacazette because I know him at Lyon. I know he has a big capacity to score and when the team gives him good chances.”
CARDIFF CITY: Etheridge, Ecuele Manga, Bennett, Bamba, Morrison, Ralls, Arter, Camarasa (Madine 89), Holiett, Ward (Zohore 84), Reid
SUBS NOT USED: Murphy, Cunningham, Harris, Paterson, Peltier
ARSENAL: Cech, Bellerin, Monreal, Sokratis, Mustafi, Xhaka, Guendouzi (Torreira 81), Ozil (Welbeck 84), Ramsey, Aubameyang (Mkhitaryan 89), Lacazette
SUBS NOT USED: Leno, Elneny, Holding, Lichtsteiner