Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Late Goals Seals 3 Points

Arsenal scored two late goals to seal three points in Emirates Stadium against Cardiff City. It was a rather boring first half, as both side failed to threaten, but in the second half, Arsenal created many chances - and wasted it, before Bendtner broke the deadlock as he rebounded the ball saved by David Marshall on Sagna's header, smashing the ball to the top of the goal nearing the end of the game. Walcott sealed three points in the dying minutes of the game as he scored the second goal. With Manchester City won the game 3-2 against Swansea, Arsenal must win to keep the top spot - and ultimately they did. 

Bendtner scored the first goal!
Photos from Premier League Twitter

The match looked likely that the game would end without a goal, despite Arsenal's handful of chances - wasted chances. Per Mertesacker came close twice, while Jack Wilshere's moment of magic was denied by post and Nicklas Bendtner failed to connect with Theo Walcott's cross. However, Arsenal's persistence was paid 2 minutes before the normal time. Cardiff were not expecting the goal from Bendtner, and few minutes later, Theo Walcott made it 2-0 as Cardiff came out to attack, leaving their defence a bit loose and allowing the winger to scored his fifth goal from five games, receiving a beautiful through ball from Jack Wilshere.

It was a tight game for Arsenal, as Cardiff defended very well and gave them little space to create chances. But good thing that they never stop trying to score goals, even though it was a bit frustrating at times where they decided to pass instead of shooting in the nice position. Good determination shown by the team until the final minutes, and they were rewarded by three points. Arsenal might be a bit lucky to escape conceding penalty when the scoreline is 0-0. Nacho Monreal handballed just in the line of the penalty area but the referee seemed not to see it. However, Arsenal had one strong penalty shout in the first half, when Gary Medel brought down Jack Wilshere in the box. Overall, Arsenal deserved three points, they created more chances (28 shots - and Cardiff only 8 shots) and getting more possession.

Impactful Substitution, that's what changed the game for today. Wenger subbed out two of the most uninfluential players today, Flamini and Podolski, replacing him with Rosicky and Nicklas Bendtner. Tomas Rosicky added fluidity to the team, giving them more dynamic movement on attacking phase. Arsenal created more chances after the introduction of the Czech. Nicklas Bendtner showed that he still have something to offer. Wenger might have been wrong not to play him upfront from the start, but ultimately he came in and scored the goal. Good reaction by the striker to take the ball, after he saw Sagna's header was saved - and spilled - by David Marshall. He injured himself on the process, though, and Arsenal now looked short of striker - Giroud was injured too.

Lukas Podolski was not striker, at least he is no a lone striker. He looked very uncomfortable upfront, and looked like he would play much better in the wing. He dropped very deep, leaving Arsenal without target in the penalty box and disrupting the attacking movement of the team. With Bendtner and Giroud out injured, Wenger have few option upfront. Walcott might played upfront also but I think he was much better on the flanks where he gets a lot of space and can cut inside during the game. It is unlikely option, but Chuba Akpom might be given chance in the first team as  he can play in central striker also.

We ended 2013 strongly and started 2014 well. Next game: FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotsp*rs!  Time to kick them out of the cup and continue the good run! COYG!