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Played
January 1, 2014 11:00 PM SGT
Emirates Stadium — London
Referee:‬ J. Moss‎
Attendance:‬ 60004‎
 
 
90+2′ Theo Walcott
 
Top of the Match
Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere
Arsenal FC
Nicklas Bendtner
Nicklas Bendtner
Arsenal FC
Flop of the Match
Mathieu Flamini
Mathieu Flamini
Arsenal FC
Bo-Kyung Kim
Bo-Kyung Kim
Cardiff City

Arsenal 2-0 Cardiff: Bendtner & Walcott keep Gunners top with vital late goals

Late goals from the Dane and the Englishman helped Arsene Wenger's weakened side overcome a wasteful display and gritty Bluebirds defending to claim three points

 Jack Wilshere Gary Medel Arsenal v Cardiff City - Premier League 01012014
Getty Images
Nicklas Bendtner was Arsenal's super sub as they returned to the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought win over Cardiff City.

Having watched Manchester City usurp them at the summit with a 3-2 win in the early kick-off against Swansea City, Arsene Wenger's side looked set to lose their grip on first place as managerless Cardiff frustrated them for long periods.

Watched by prospective new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - who flanked controversial owner Vincent Tan in the Emirates Stadium directors' box - Cardiff held out until Bendtner slammed home in the 89th minute.

VIEW FROM THE EMIRATES STADIUM
By Tom Sweetman

Winning the game at the death when it seems like two points are going to be dropped is a sure sign of eventual title winners, and that is exactly what Arsenal produced here.

After dominating possession all afternoon against Cardiff City and creating chance after chance their pressure was finally rewarded in the dying minutes as first Nicklas Bendtner of all people, and then Theo Walcott got the game’s decisive goals.

Cardiff battled hard and likely incoming manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was watching on, will surely have been impressed, but the day belonged to the Gunners. Could this be their year?
And Theo Walcott added gloss to the scoreline with a chipped finish in stoppage time to hand Wenger’s side a one-point advantage at the top.

Lukas Podolski made his second league start of the season, leading the line for an Arsenal side lacking Olivier Giroud (ankle), Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Mesut Ozil (shoulder) and Kieran Gibbs (calf), although Jack Wilshere and Walcott came through late checks on respective ankle and shoulder problems.

Cardiff forward Craig Bellamy missed out due to his chronic knee problem, while experienced right-back Kevin McNaughton made a first Premier League appearance.

Wilshere and Walcott combined in the 13th minute as the latter prodded a searching cross into the side netting after a lacklustre opening.

England midfielder Wilshere was the standout performer in the opening half hour and was unfortunate not to win a penalty when he was bundled over by Gary Medel.

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made the game's first save of note as Jordon Mutch stormed forward on the counterattack, before Santi Cazorla beat McNaughton and teed up Walcott to ripple the side netting once more in the 31st minute.

Podolski's unease in the lone striker role was underlined in first-half stoppage time, as the Germany international was crowded out when well placed in the Cardiff box.

Wenger's men began the second half with greater intent and former Tottenham centre-back Steven Caulker made a fine last-ditch challenge to thwart Podolski, but it was then Cardiff's turn to have a penalty appeal waved away by referee Jon Moss when Craig Noone's cross struck Nacho Monreal's arm.

Goalkeeper David Marshall was booked for time wasting as Arsenal laid siege to the Cardiff goal and he was grateful to see the ball go behind off his near post after Wilshere had bustled in from the left to blast goalwards in the 64th minute.

Per Mertesacker then hit the same upright as he spurned a second free header in a matter of minutes.

Bendtner, on for the ineffective Podolski, failed to make headed contact with the goal gaping as a frustrating afternoon appeared to be slipping away from Arsenal, but he was on hand to convert after Marshall had saved well from Bacary Sagna's header.

Walcott then completed the win by lifting the ball over Marshall in stoppage time, leaving Cardiff a point above the relegation zone and Solskjaer with much to ponder.


Arsenal FC

1
Wojciech Szczesny
Goalkeeper
2.50
3
Bacary Sagna
Defender
2.50
4
Per Mertesacker
Defender
29′
3.00
6
3.00
17
Monreal
Defender
3.00
8
Mikel Arteta
Midfielder
2.50
10
Jack Wilshere
Midfielder
92′
4.00
19
Santi Cazorla
Midfielder
3.50
20
Mathieu Flamini
Midfielder
65′
2.00
9
2.00
14
Theo Walcott
Striker
92′
 - 

Cardiff City

2.50
1
David Marshall
Goalkeeper
60′
3.50
4
2.00
6
Ben Turner
Defender
55′
2.50
42
2.00
25
2.00
7
2.00
8
Gary Medel
Midfielder
61′
2.00
13
Bo-Kyung Kim
Midfielder
2.50
16
Craig Noone
Midfielder
2.50
18
Jordon Mutch
Midfielder
67′
2.00
10

Substitutes

21
 - 
5
2.50
25
 - 
7
Tomas Rosicky
Midfielder
65′
3.00
31
 - 
23
3.00
44
 - 

Substitutes

 - 
32
Joe Lewis
Goalkeeper
 - 
5
Mark Hudson
Defender
2.50
17
2.50
19
Don Cowie
Midfielder
67′
 - 
29
 - 
14
2.50
-

Coach/Manager

-
 - 

Coach/Manager

 
  • Goal
  • Own Goal
  • Penalty
  • Penalty Missed
  • Yellow Card
  • Assist
  • Penalty Save
  • Penalty Shootout Goal
  • Penalty Shootout Miss
  • Yellow Card / Red Card
  • Red Card
  • Substitution IN
  • Substitution OUT
  • Injury
  • Goal.com Rating
  • Goal.com Man of the Match
  • Goal.com Flop of the Match
  • Top & Flop Global Ranking
  • Fans' Man of the Match
  • Fans' Flop of the Match
Results
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Luis Suárez Luis Suárez
Striker
Liverpool
29 0
Daniel Sturridge Daniel Sturridge
Striker
Liverpool
20 0
Yaya Touré Yaya Touré
Midfielder
Man City
18 6
Wayne Rooney Wayne Rooney
Striker
Man. United
15 2
Sergio Agüero Sergio Agüero
Striker
Man City
15 0