Cardiff 2-3 Arsenal: Analysis as Gunners edge close encounter

Cardiff 2-3 Arsenal: Analysis as Gunners edge close encounter

Unai Emery won his first away game in the Premier League against newly-promoted Cardiff City.

TJ Wedderburn

Arsenal made it back to back wins following a hard fought victory against Cardiff.

Goals from Shkodran Mustafi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette saw the Gunners clinch their second win in the Premier League

Irresistible in attack, vulnerable in defence

Arsenal dominated possession in the first half, Unai Emery's midfield trio of Mateo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey all saw a lot of the ball and went about their business encouragingly. 

However, the first chance of the game went Cardiff's way through Harry Arter, who intercepted Petr Cech's poor attempted pass only to blaze over. 

A new feature for Arsenal under Emery is their insistence to play out from the back, a strategy that the Gunners defence, notably Cech, have struggled with. This was once again the case as Cech presented Cardiff with a golden chance to take the lead with the game just minutes old.

For all Arsenal's passing play, it was a set piece which saw them break the deadlock. Xhaka's corner was met by the head of Mustafi who thudded the ball beyond a hapless Neil Etheridge. It was a deserved goal for the visitors who grew into the game after a shaky spell. 

The lively Lacazette, picked from the start for the first time this season, proved a thorn in Cardiff's side. The Frenchman was linking well with strike partner Aubameyang and was unlucky not to add to the scoreline after his effort from the edge of the Cardiff box hit the post.

With the end of the first half approaching, the board went up for an additional three minutes. It seemed Arsenal were going to head into the break a goal to the good, but a poor cross-field pass from Xhaka, who has had a difficult start to the campaign, was intercepted by Junior Hoilett who drove toward the Arsenal area.

Following a mele in the box, the ball fell to Spanish full-back Victor Camarasa, who lashed high into Cech's goal to level the score for the hosts. A somewhat fortuitous goal courtesy of some sloppy defending from an Arsenal team who are yet to demonstrate any real solidity at the back.

Despite being in control, the north Londoners went into half time level pegging. 

Lacazette stakes his claim

Arsenal started the second half very much on the front foot. Pressing Cardiff high up in their half and probing forward with some incisive short passing. 

Mesut Ozil, having been deployed on the right wing in the first half, played more central and started to exert a much heavier influence on the game.

It was the German schemer who would indeed play a part in his side regaining the lead. A clever forward pass into the feet of Lacazette was met with a sumptuous flick toward Aubameyang, who curled home a beautiful strike. Arsenal had retaken the lead and it was truly a goal to savour.

Welshman Ramsey, back at his former club, burst forward from midfield in typical fashion and his cut back intended for Ozil was cut out just in the nick of time to prevent the 29-year-old from making it 3-1. 

Ozil's performances have been under the microscope since Emery took charge of Arsenal, but the former World Cup winner was much improved against Cardiff. 

Neil Warnock's men were dogged in their approach - and carried by the energy of the home support, Cardiff once again levelled proceedings. After profiting from a controversially awarded free kick, towering centre back Sean Morrison nodded the ball on for forward Danny Ward whose header went in the back of the Arsenal net via the post.

Once again the Bluebirds had fought back from a goal behind and fingers were once again being pointed at the Arsenal defence.

Usually being on the end of such a sucker punch may negatively impact a team's performance, especially Arsenal. But the Gunners seemed more determined than ever to come away with three points.

Continuing to push forward, Arsenal's winner came in the last ten minutes of the game through Lacazette who was quite clearly playing with a point to prove.

The introduction of summer acquisition Lucas Torreira injected some much-needed steel into the Arsenal midfield, and it was the Uruguayan who would set up the eventual winning goal. After a one-two with Ramsey, Torreira found Lacazette in the box who crashed the ball beyond 'keeper Etheridge from an improbable angle. 

It was staggering finish from a striker who was linked with a move away during the transfer window. Lacazette's goal and assist will no doubt have given Emery food for thought when picking his future starting elevens. 

After back to back defeats, Arsenal have now won their last two games heading into the international break. Whilst question marks still remain over the strength of their defence, the attacking talent at their disposal in the shape of Lacazette and Aubameyang is surely reason to be optimistic.