The New Year started sluggish for the Gunners who seemed to miss their attacking trio of Mezut Ozil, Olivier Giroud & Aaron Ramsey pretty badly. The trio who are all out injured have contributed to most of the attacking force this season and their absence was felt both on & off the pitch. Cardiff were playing their last match with interim / caretaker manager David Kerslake as the expectation is that former Manchester United striker & Norwegian international Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to take over as manager. The 40 year old, sitting alongside Bluebirds’ owner Vincent Tan in the Emirates Stadium directors’ box after holding talks to take over as manager, would be pleased with the consistency, organization and solid performance by the Cardiff players as they thwarted all of Arsenal’s efforts for 88 minutes of the match.
For a long time it looked as though Arsene Wenger’s men, who started the day top before briefly being displaced when Manchester City won the early kick-off game, would be left frustrated as they enjoyed plenty of the ball without being able to break Cardiff down. The hosts were restricted to half chances for the majority of the first half, with Theo Walcott side-footing the best chance over the bar. Arsenal have not been prolific at home so far this season, going into the match with only 16 league goals from nine matches. And the Gunners’ lack of striking options will inevitably lead to more questions being directed at Wenger about potential targets this transfer window, with the first half display doing little to convince they have a suitable replacement for Giroud, out with an ankle injury.
Per Mertesacker then headed wide twice when unmarked before the deadlock was broken as Nicklas Bendtner was quickest to react when David Marshall saved Bacary Sagna’s header, the Dane firing home with just two minutes remaining before immediately going off injured. The victory was sealed as Walcott calmly chipped over Marshall after latching on to Wilshere’s flicked through ball. Arsenal went back on top of the league with 45 points from 20 games. It remains to be seen if Wenger will make a move for a top class striker, which we need, during the transfer window this month.