As it happened: Arsenal get the job done against Cardiff
Bruno Ecuele Manga of Cardiff City tackles Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Cardiff City and Arsenal FC at Cardiff City Stadium on September 2, 2018 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

As it happened: Arsenal get the job done against Cardiff

Arsenal look to follow up victory against Chelsea with another important win in top-four race. Kick-off is at 19.45 GMT.

David Comerford
That's it for our live commentary of Arsenal vs Cardiff. We'll have reports, reaction and analysis to come from all this evening's Premier League games.
What next?
Arsenal will be very hard-pressed to extend their winning run into a third game. They face reigning champions Manchester City on Sunday.

As for Cardiff, the pressure will be on to pick up valuable points at home to Bournemouth in Saturday's evening kick-off. 

Immediate reflections
Cardiff were truly a credit to their supporters today. After a terribly difficult week, they played with tremendous courage.

The Bluebirds shaded the first half and perhaps should have been in front at the break. But Ecuele Manga's foul on Kolasinac in the area was probably the defining moment, handing Arsenal a lead they hadn't done much to deserve.

Lacazette's powerful effort made sure Mendez-Laing's late goal counted for nothing in the end.

A very ugly win for the hosts, but an important one nonetheless.

Full time
And that's it. Arsenal have - just about - managed to get the job done. 
How is it not three?! A free Ramsey is picked out by Aubameyang's chipped cross, but he fires straight at Etheridge with the goal gaping. 
Fantastic stop from Etheridge with Aubameyang appearing destined to settle it after Ramsey's cut-back. 
Arsenal have the ball in Cardiff's corner and will look to keep it in and around that zone until the final whistle sounds.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 Cardiff
Hang on a minute. The game looked to be over but a curling finish from substitute Mendez-Laing has given the visitors an ounce of hope. No clean sheet today. 
Arsenal go in search of a third as Kolasinac breaks free down the left, but when he finds Lacazette the striker has to retreat and the chance is gone. 
Ralls enters the book after a foul on Guendouzi which leaves the youngster needing treatment. 

Five minutes of stoppage time will be played. 

Cardiff try to make things interesting as Ralls lofts a free-kick into the box, but Paterson's header loops into the side-netting. 
Arsenal are threatening to turn this into a real beating now. Lacazette dinks one up for Ramsey, who has a free header but diverts the ball just past the post.
Great work from Lacazette. A tigerish run towards goal followed by a fearsome shot which Etheridge couldn't keep out. It's not been vintage Arsenal, but the points are in the bag.
GOAL!! Arsenal 2-0 Cardiff
And that's the game for Arsenal.
Torreira, about 25 yards out, laces one but pulls it wide of the post. 
Ozil's number is up after an underwhelming performance. Emery swaps him for Aaron Ramsey, who accepts the armband from his team-mate on the touchline. 
Cardiff want a penalty as Ozil raises his leg to dispossess Paterson. Nothing in that.
Kenneth Zohore comes on for Cardiff. Niasse, who proved difficult to handle throughout, makes way.
Arsenal are pushing for a second. Kolasinac tees one up but it's deflected to safety. 
Reid off, Mendez-Laing on as Cardiff plot the route to an equaliser. That big first-half chance was the defining moment of the former's night. 
Might it open up for Arsenal now? Etheridge was forced to make an instinctive, clawing save to deny Iwobi moments ago. 
Worth noting that Iwobi had been introduced shortly before the penalty was awarded. In fact, it was his incisive pass that found Kolasinac before he was grounded.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Cardiff
Cool as you like. Aubameyang rolls the penalty into the bottom left corner and Arsenal have the lead. They'll be feeling very relieived. 
PENALTY to Arsenal
A huge blow for Cardiff, who have edged this game. Ecuele Manga trips Kolasinac, and Mike Dean has no choice but to point to the spot. 
An absolutely crucial block from Mustafi with Niasse about to pull the trigger in the centre of the box. 

A scuffle breaks out shortly after following a bad tackle from Arter on Guendouzi. The feisty midfielder is cautioned by Mike Dean. 

Gunnarsson gets his head to it and the danger fizzles out. You expect much better from an Ozil delivery. 
Arsenal have a free-kick a yard or two from the byline, just outside the area, after Reid bundles over Lacazette.

They make their first change before it's taken. Lichtsteiner is withdrawn and Carl Jenkinson is on his place. A curious switch from Emery.

Aubameyang hasn't been able to get into this game. Gunnarsson wrestles him off the ball now. His frustration will only be mounting.
Another opening for Paterson, who only has eyes for goal. He takes it on his weaker left and Leno can watch the slice sail wide. 
Concern for Arsenal as Mustafi stays down after an awkward landing. He's helped back to his feet and gingerly makes his way to the touchline.

Konstantinos Mavropanos warms up in case he's needed.

Ozil puts a dangerous ball into the box and the clearance falls to Torreira, but he can't sort his feet out and get a shot away. 
Paterson picks it up and bears down on goal, only to drag his effort harmlessly wide. 
Aubameyang tees up Guendouzi for a long-range effort, but it's stroked well over the top. 
Second half
Can Cardiff keep it up?
Awful Arsenal
That was such a poor first-half performance from Arsenal, who could not get going at all. For the umpteenth time this time, they're reliant on a big second half.

They can't afford to drop points here. 

There were appeals for a penalty just before that flurry as Lacazette went down under challenge for Ecuele Manga. The Frenchman remonstrates with Mike Dean as the sides head towards the tunnel. Guendouzi's complaints earn him a yellow card.

Cardiff the much better team in that half and, in truth, they might feel disappointed not to be ahead, particularly after a great chance for Reid. 

Much better from Arsenal as they look to nick an opener before the break. Ozil gets into a good crossing position at the byline but Bamba is able to clear. 

Lacazette puts one in from a similar position moments later and nothing comes of it. 

Niasse's blocked shot comes to Ralls, whose cut-back was begging to be touched home. Increasing anger around The Emirates as Cardiff ask all the questions. 
Cardiff look the more likely, that's for sure. Bennett teases one in this time but it's just too far in front of Reid. 
Slightly more of a scramble this time but Arsenal manage to get it clear. 
In the aftermath of the free-kick, Peltier bullies Ozil off the ball and crosses, and once again Arsenal have to put it behind for a corner. 
Another chance for Cardiff to put it in the mixer with a free-kick near the touchline.
Paterson finds himself in space at the back post and directs the ball back across goal on the volley, but Kolasinac is in the way. 
Arsenal deal with the corner and but once again can't put together a counter as their players rush out of the box.
Bennett crosses the ball in and Guendouzi is forced to head behind. 
Mustafi's clumsy challenge on Reid hands Cardiff another opportunity from a free-kick.
Harry Arter with what you might call a 'hopeful' effort from about 35 yards out. Row G. 
A 50-50 turns into a 70-30 as Paterson and Lichtsteiner go for the ball. The Cardiff man arrives on the scene too late and cleans out his opponent. Yellow card.
A neat one-two between Torreira and Lacazette and things open up for the midfielder, but he hesitates and Ecuele Manga is able to get the ball clear.
Arsenal enjoying a spell of possession but struggling to break the lines. Guendouzi zips one forward towards Lichtsteiner but it simply runs through to Etheridge. 
Cardiff once again fail to make the most of the setpiece.
Bennett's free-kick hits the wall and deflects out for a corner. He'll be disappointed with that effort.
Monreal trips Reid on the edge of the area and goes in the book. Cardiff have a free-kick in a wonderful position. 
Arsenal are struggling to get the home supporters on their feet at the moment. They need some inspiration. 
Arsenal are able to clear once again. They'll be looking to stamp their authority on this match now. 
Cardiff's latest corner brings a rumble of anticipation in the away end.
Guendouzi is briefly down after a collision with Peltier. He'll be able to run that one off. 
From the corner, the ball is headed across goal and Lacazette is inches away from converting at the back stick. 
A chance for Arsenal now. Guendouzi threads it through to Lacazette, who looks to repeat his goal against Chelsea by darting round the Cardiff defenders. Ecuele Manga makes a clumsy challenge but the Frenchman stays on his feet and it's only a corner. The verdict could well have been different if he'd gone down. 
Cardiff want a penalty after Kolasinac forces Niasse off the ball and onto the deck but the referee says no. The visitors are causing problems here. 
What a chance for Cardiff! The ball sits up nicely for Reid on the edge of the box and there's no defenders between him and the goal, but he lashes it past the post. They may well rue that miss. 
Arsenal deal with the danger pretty comfortably this time.
Another Cardiff corner as Niasse gets free in behind and Mustafi is forced to intervene with the sliding challenge. 
Lucas Torreira flashes one across the box. Mustafi the closest to connecting before the ball goes behind. 
Aubameyang is impeded by Peltier and wins his side a free-kick in a dangerous position out on the left-hand side.
A disappointing amount of empty seats at The Emirates this evening. Things have quietened down slightly since that early Lacazette chance.
There's a free header for Callum Paterson but fortunately for Arsenal, it's blocked and they can come away with the ball. 
Good work by Niasse to win his side a potentially valuable corner.
Arsenal totally dominating possession in the early stages and eyeing an early goal to disrupt the visitors' gameplan.
Arsenal so close to going in front after some neat attacking play. Kolascinac fizzes one in from the left and the ball breaks to Lacazette at the back post, but he sees his effort blocked.
Cardiff get us underway at The Emirates. 
Emotional scenes
A moment of reflection and applause for Emiliano Sala before kick-off. 
Cardiff City XI
Cardiff are indeed without their captain Sean Morrison, but Harry Arter is fit to start.

Team in full: Etheridge; Peltier, Ecuele Manga, Bamba, Bennett; Arter, Gunnarsson, Ralls; Paterson, Decordova-Reid, Niasse

Arsenal XI
The big news for Arsenal fans is that Mesut Ozil starts. Lacazette and Aubameyang complete a formidable attack.

Team in full: Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac; Elneny, Guendouzi, Torreira; Ozil, Aubameyang Lacazette

Expect the full team news shortly before 19.00
Cardiff team news
Cardiff are expected to be without skipper Sean Morrison, who has sustained an abdominal injury.

The participation of defender Jazz Richards, midfielder Harry Arter and forward Kenneth Zohore is also in doubt.

Arsenal team news
Arsenal continue to be blighted by injuries to defenders. Hector Bellerin (knee), Sokratis (ankle), Rob Holding (ACL) and Laurent Koscielny (jaw) are all out. 

Danny Welbeck remains a long-term absentee, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a doubt.

Warnock welcomes distraction for grieving players
"In an ideal world, I don't think I would have liked another game at all, how I feel at the minute. I think football is important but it does open up a lot more when tragedy like this happens.

"I do think from the players' point of view that they need some sort of distraction now. It has been so doom and gloom and down and sorrowful.

"The place is so sombre all the way round the club. We almost need some sort of a game to get firing again, to get something out the system."

Emery stresses 'respect' for Cardiff
"If you win against Chelsea but you don't win tomorrow then you are losing three very important points.

"We have very big respect for Cardiff because they are a very competitive team. They won in Leicester and the played their last matches where the results were only just against them.

"Tomorrow, we need to impose ourselves and also show adaptation. I think they are going to play with a big motivation also and with a big fight in a lot of duels against us."

Stats: Arsenal's imperious record against lowly opposition
Arsenal are looking to continue their 100% Premier League record against Cardiff after running out victorious in their three meetings so far.

The Gunners have not been beaten at home by a newly-promoted side since November 2010. 

Similarly, they have won 32 of their last 33 home games against teams starting the day in the relegation zone.

Cardiff's big six away record
This is Cardiff's fourth trip to a 'big six' opponent this season. 

They were dealt 4-1 beatings at Chelsea and Liverpool, but did make Spurs sweat at Wembley in a 1-0 defeat.

Can they spring a surprise this evening?

Cardiff look to escape bottom three
Cardiff will be 18th at the start of the play, two points adrift of safety. 

This will not be a game Neil Warnock has earmarked as a must-win in their bid to avoid relegation, but he will almost certainly set his side up to draw.

Arsenal eye London rivals
Victory for Arsenal here would move them level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea, who travel to Bournemouth on Wednesday night.

It would also leave the Gunners within four points of their out-of-form rivals Spurs.

Football put into perspective
This is Cardiff's first game since the tragic disappearance of their new striker Emiliano Sala last week. 

The two teams will lay a floral tribute on the pitch before kick-off and the Welsh club's staff and supporters will wear daffodils. Black armbands will not be worn at the family's request.

Hello and welcome to VAVEL's live text commentary of the Premier League meeting between Arsenal and Cardiff City at The Emirates. I'm David Comerford and I'll be taking you through all the action from 7.45 this evening.