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1 January 2014
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: J. Moss
• Attendance: 60004
N. Bendtner 88'
T. Walcott 90'+
That's your lot from me, Harry Slavin. It was long time coming but Arsenal eventually take the three points. Be sure to tune in this weekend for FA Cup action, but until then, it's goodbye for now!
FULL-TIME: ARSENAL 2-0 CARDIFF. What was shaping up to be a largely frustrating start to 2014 for Arsene Wenger and his side, has ended in sheer ecstasy as two late goals send the Gunners back to the top of the Premier League. It's another tale of late woe for Cardiff as they concede two late goals for the second game running. A lot of work for Solskjaer to do if he is indeed to be the next full-time boss at the welsh club.
90' + 2'
Assist Jack Wilshere
90' + 2'
Goal Theo Walcott
GOOAAALLLL!!! WALCOTT WRAPS IT UP!!! A sublime finish from the winger as he clips the ball over the advancing Marshall to send the Emirates loopy. A lovely ball through from Wilshere too. Things are suddenly looking bright again for the Gunners.
Bendtner actually injured himself in scoring that goal. He's had to go off and Vermaelen is on in his place.
Goal Nicklas Bendtner
GOOOAAALLL!!!! BENDTNER SMASHES HOME!!! The Bluebirds resolve is finally broken and it's the substitute Bendtner who has snatched the victory. Marshall pulled off a great stop to deny Sagna but couldn't hold it and the Dane stole in to rifle the ball into the roof of the net.
Cardiff then just moments away from one of the most unlikely points they'll pick up this season. Bear in mind though, they were moments away from a big result on Saturday too before Sunderland scored in stoppage time. Will late heartbreak strike twice for the Bluebirds?
The home crowd are roaring on their side, willing them to find that all important winner. Walcott doesn't help his side's cause with a wild effort that sails high and wide when a cross would have probably been the better option.
Arsenal respond to that period of pressure with some of their best chances. Sagna's header at the back post has to be cleared by Caulker from under his own crossbar. Moments later Bendtner somehow fails to meet Walcott's cross from just yards out.
A few promising minutes for Cardiff. First Kim has a little bit of space but sends his ambitious effort into the away fans behind the goal. Maynard then gets the chance to run at the Arsenal backline and wins his side a corner, from which Caulker eventually pokes over the bar.
It's been a backs to the wall job for the Bluebirds all second half and Campbell is finally relieved of his duties in isolation up top as Nicky Maynard comes on in his place.
Walcott receives the ball into feet inside the box and goes down under the attentions of Ben Turner. The only man appealing on the whole park is the Arsenal winger but replays suggest he may have had a strong case. Definite contact from the defender there.
Noone brings down Wilshere on the edge of the area. Bacary Sagna is nowhere to be seen on this occasion but Walcott's effort doesn't find the target either, the ball nestling on the roof of the goal.
Another lovely move from Arsenal but still no end product as Cazorla sees his curling effort held by Marshall in the Cardiff goal. Time is just beginning to run away from the hosts now.
Walcott finds Wilshere on the edge of the area, a place where the England man has been able to pick up possession all afternoon. He goes for the first-time effort on this occasion but he fizzes his shot wide.
Deja vu as Mertesacker misses another glorious chance! He rises unmarked to meet Walcott's corner but can only steer his effort onto the post. Maybe it just isn't going to be Arsenal's day.
What a chance for Mertesacker!!! The German has a free header as he meets Walcott's cross but he puts it wide. He was just about to wheel away celebrating too! Meanwhile Don Cowie is on for Mutch.
Double substitution for the hosts as they search for that opening goal. Bendtner is on alongside Rosicky. Flamini and Podolski have made way.
POST!!! Jack Wilshere has been the best thing about Arsenal today and he almost breaks the deadlock with a moment of individual brilliance, skipping past McNaughton before crashing a swirling effort against the outside of the post. That's the closest either side have come so far.
Aron Einar Gunnarsson
First substitute of the game as Gary Medel, must to the bemusement of the Chilean, is removed from the field of play. Gunnarsson is on in his place.
Yellow Card David Marshall
Another booking, this time for David Marshall as referee Moss reckons he has taken his time with one goal kick too many. Eventually, his clearance downfield actually sets up Cardiff's first corner of the game as Mertesacker fails to deal properly with the high ball.
Arsenal have turned the pressure up a couple of notches in this half but they still haven't really tested Marshall. It's almost like a training session for them at the moment as Cardiff have everyone bar Campbell back in their own area.
Yellow Card Ben Turner
Walcott races down the right and is cleared out by Ben Turner. The defender looks to get the ball but it's really the manner of the challenge for which he is booked. diving in on the winger.
Big claim for a penalty for Cardiff! Craig Noone gets down the right side and swings in a cross. Monreal is in close proximity but his hand is awfully far away from his body as the ball smacks his arm. Moss, for the second time this afternoon, turns down appeals for a spot kick to be given.
Some good movement from Podolski creates some space in the box. Again though the Gunners feel the absence of a second striker as his inviting ball across the box isn't followed in by anyone in a red shirt.
Bacary Sagna picks up a loose ball on the edge of the area after Cardiff fail to clear, but he fires his effort high and wide. Vincent Tan applauds encouragement from his seat. Beside him, Solskjaer doesn't look quite as convinced by that piece of defending.
Immediately the visitors are organised into their two stiff lines of four at the back and five in the middle. Wilshere tries to pass through them early on but there is no way past.
A short blast on the whistle from our man in the middle and we are back up and running.
The teams are back out already at the Emirates. Can Cardiff continue to shut out the Gunners? We are about to find out.
No goals at the moment then at a sodden, blustery Emirates but it's by no means job done for the visitors. In fact, the storm is probably only just brewing. Arsenal have scored more goals in the first half an hour of the second half than any other team in the Premier League. Brace yourself Bluebirds fans.
HALF-TIME: ARSENAL 0-0 CARDIFF. A big chance for the hosts just before the break but Podolski cannot get his shot away, nor can he tee up Wilshere who arrives on the scene to help the German out. It's so far so good for the Bluebirds though, as their game plan is currently holding up, as they keep the Gunners out.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has vacated his seat next to the Cardiff dictator Vincent Tan. The owner cuts a lonely figure, looking on in a forlorn 'money can't buy you happiness' pose. But where has the Norwegian gone? To the the changing room perhaps?
Cazorla has another chance as he is set up by Wilshere (again!). The blue shirts are flying all over the place now though and his shot is blocked behind for a corner.
Just five minutes to go until the break and Cardiff threaten to counter again here. Kim spins away from a tackle in the middle but can't quite find Campbell with the pass to bring him into the attack.
The Arsenal pressure that looked to be growing has somewhat subsided as the half has worn on here. Cardiff look settled and David Kerslake has done a great job of organising the team to frustrate the hosts this afternoon.
Campbell is down on the turf after an awkward landing. The striker tangled with Mertesacker and his currently hobbling on his ankle. He hasn't needed treatment so far but he's limping heavily.
Cardiff are having to put bodies on the line at the moment to keep the Gunners out. Wilshere is causing problems on the edge of the Bluebirds' area and Caulker has to dive in to block the midfielder's shot after a neat one-two with Walcott.
Another chance for Walcott, who is getting into the right positions for Arsenal at the moment. He is picked out by Wilshere on the edge of the area. He takes a touch instead of shooting first time and ends up sending his effort over the bar.
Yellow Card Per Mertesacker
Mertesacker is booked after that chance for Mutch as he prevented Campbell from joining the wide man in the Cardiff attack. Good refereeing from Moss there though to play the advantage.
Chances at either end now as the game threatens to open up. Walcott sidefoots over the crossbar despite begin well placed and moments later Mutch creates himself a shooting opportunity and is only denied by a smart stop from Szczesny.
A big call for John Moss to make, and Jack Wilshere certainly thinks he's got it wrong. The Arsenal midfielder tussles with Gary Medel in the box and appears to be brought down by the Chilean. The referee waves away protests instantly though, much to the Englishman's dismay.
One poor Cardiff fan has clearly left his jacket on the coach as he stand shivering in only his shirt in the away end. The conditions aren't pleasant in North London and the rain is continuing to fall.
Cardiff enjoy their first spell of possession in the opening 20 minutes but it's of no threat as they pass the ball around the back four in their own half. When they do try and go long it's a poor ball from Caulker and it goes straight through to Szczesny.
Wilshere tees up Cazorla on the edge of the area but the Spaniard fizzes his shot wide. Pressure growing on David Marshall's goal at the moment.
Arsenal are just beginning to stretch their opponents now. Santi Cazorla and Monreal link up down the right and the full-back finds enough space to send a delicious ball across the six-yard-box. Unfortunately for the hosts there's no one to get on the end of it on this occasion.
A combination of McNaughton and Medel brings down Flamini on the edge of the Cardiff box. Of all the people to stand behind the ball, Bacary Sagna is probably not your usual suspect. I don't think he'll be lining up another free kick soon either, as he blasts his effort straight into the wall.
First big chance and it's for the hosts. Cardiff are dispossessed in their own half and Wilshere has time to pick out the run of Walcott at the back post. The winger slides in and connects with it but can only find the side-netting.
For a second there you'd have been forgiven for thinking the hosts were in blue as Cardiff launch an Arsenal-esque counterattack. Kim and Medel link up beautifully in the middle before finding Noone, but the midfielder's cross is blocked.
Mutch nicks the ball off Cazorla inside the Arsenal half and is brought down by the Spaniard. It provides Whittingham with another chance to deliver a ball into the area but any threat is stopped as the linesman raises his flag for offside.
It is pretty soggy in London and there is a touch of water on the surface. All players will need to be careful with their passing as we've seen the ball holding up on the turf a little bit already.
Arteta is back in the midfield for the hosts today and he sprays a couple of early long balls for Carzola and Walcott. Neither can get on the end of them but some early warning signs there for Cardiff.
We know Peter Whittingham can deliver a dangerous ball from a set piece and early on here he is doing just that. His quick free kick is met by Caulker at the back post but he goes for goal instead of trying to head it back across the six-yard-box.
We are underway. Football, welcome to 2014!
The sides are out at the Emirates, while one spectator of note takes his seat. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is alongside Vincent Tan this afternoon in London. The next Cardiff boss there then.
Three changes for Arsenal after their 1-0 win over Newcastle on Sunday. Lukas Podolski comes in to lead the line as Giroud drops out the squad after picking up a few knocks in that game, while Mikel Arteta and Nacho Monreal also come in. Cardiff make just the one change as McNaughton comes in at the back.
CARDIFF: (4-5-1) Marshall; McNaughton, Caulker, Turner, John; Whittingham, Medel, Kim, Noone, Mutch; Campbell.
ARSENAL: (4-2-3-1) Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta, Flamini; Walcott, Wilshere, Cazorla; Podolski.
Not long until kick off at the Emirates so we'll quickly fire into the team news.
As far as New Year's resolutions for these pair go, Arsene Wenger will be looking to finally pick up that elusive silverware, and they've got themselves into a great position for the second half of the season as they lead the league. Vincent Tan's resolution is anyone's guess, but Cardiff do need a new manager, and they need to start picking up points too. You have to feel that anything from today's game though is unlikely for the Welsh outfit.
I'm Harry Slavin and I'll be here to take you through all the action from North London as Arsene Wenger's side look to consolidate their place at the top of the Premier League after a cracking 2013. They take on managerless Cardiff, a team that will be hoping for better times in 2014 after a barmy end to last year.
It's the first of January which means new, diet plans, new fitness regimes and new year resolutions,well, for the first few weeks anyway. But some things never change and the Premier League is already flinging itself into the new year with a full set of fixtures, including this one - Arsenal against Cardiff from the Emirates.
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