Cardiff City and Arsenal played out a thrilling match in the Welsh capital, in which the London side prevailed 3-2.
The game started in a predictable pattern, as Arsenal had most of the ball and Cardiff defended deep into their own half. But it was the home side who had the first big chance, and it came due to a howler from Petr Cech.
The veteran goalkeeper played a disastrous pass straight to Harry Arter, who blasted his shot over the crossbar. A huge let-off for Cech, and a moment which is bound to raise the voices of the Bernd Leno fan club.
But Arsenal survived, and soon took the lead. Granit Xhaka took the corner and Shkodran Mustafi planted a precise header into the Cardiff net. The game progressed and was more open than expected, as chances came at both ends. Bobby Reid couldn’t direct his shot towards the net and then at the other end Alexandre Lacazette hit the woodwork.
Xhaka’s terrible pass was intercepted and Joe Bennett played in a great cross to find Victor Camarasa, who found the net to score his first goal for Cardiff. The Bluebirds were definitely the happier side at the break.
The game did not lose any action in the second half, as more shambolic defending gave rise to chances. Soon Arsenal found their groove and started to dominate the ball. The excellent Lacazette conjured their second, as his delightful flick to Aubameyang was met with a clinical strike.
But Cardiff upped the ante and equalised yet again. Joe Ralls’ free-kick was headed back in by Sean Morrison and Danny Ward placed his header perfectly to level the scoreline.
The game looked to contain one more goal, and Lacazette, arguably the best player came up with it. Latching onto Lucas Torreira’s pass, he thundered a shot in the roof from a tight angle. Arsenal held on to the lead this time, despite some Cardiff pressure late on to seal a huge win for Unai Emery.
Emery’s midfield needs Torreira
Emery signed the Uruguay international in the summer but Torreira has not started a competitive game for Arsenal, which has rightly raised questions. The inexperienced Matteo Guendouzi and the irresponsible Granit Xhaka have filled in, but they have not looked reliable.
Arsenal have been too open in midfield in all of their games, and they have conceded eight goals in their four games to begin the season. Torreira is a holding midfielder who is adept at positioning and tackling, both of which are needed in the Arsenal midfield.
Furthermore, Torreira has impressed in substitute appearances, which adds to the debate. Cardiff, who had failed to score in their first three games, bagged two against this Arsenal side. Surely Emery will turn to Torreira now?
Lacazette delivers on his first start
Emery is yet to cement his starting lineup, due to the likes of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Ramsey and Lacazette contending for places. In Cardiff, he chose to start Lacazette and it paid off spectacularly.
The Frenchman was brilliant, scoring the winner and setting up another. Aubameyang was also involved, which was a worry before the game as he was shifted out on the wing. He scored as well, and Ozil also put in a solid performance.
It looks as if Lacazette’s presence balanced the side as Mkhitaryan was sacrificed. This could be the formation to go for Emery, certainly if Lacazette keeps on delivering performances like these.
Cech’s time seems to be up with Leno lurking
Petr Cech has been an outstanding performer in the Premier League but his time seems to be coming to an end. Arsenal signed Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer with a view to replace him and his recent showings will speed the same.
Emery’s philosophy includes playing out from the back and Cech, to put it simply, is not able to do that. A glaring mistake went unpunished today and he almost scored an embarrassing own goal in their opening game against Manchester City.
Cech has clearly been uncomfortable while finding passing options and Leno can do it better, as indicated by his time in Germany. The German was clearly signed for a purpose and it should be fulfilled now. As they say, not everyone is as generous as Harry Arter.
Man of the Match: Alexandre Lacazette
Starting his first game, Lacazette delivered, scoring one and setting up another. Arsenal’s attack looked more potent with the Frenchman, which gave them the three points in spite of some terrible defending. He seems to have cemented his place in the starting eleven, doesn’t it?