Arsenal end awayday struggles with victory at Cardiff
Arsenal lifted their awayday blues with a 3-2 Premier League victory at Cardiff.
Shkodran Mustafi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – with his 150th goal in the top five leagues of European football – twice gave the Gunners the lead before Alexandre Lacazette settled matters nine minutes from time.
Victor Camarasa and Danny Ward grabbed equalisers as Cardiff scored their first goals since returning to the Premier League – but Arsenal held on for only their second away league win in 2018.
Mesut Ozil was restored to the Arsenal line-up after missing the first win of the Unai Emery reign.
Ozil sat out the West Ham success amid reports of a training ground bust-up with his manager, who insisted the Germany midfielder had simply missed the game through illness.
Lacazette started his first game under Emery with Aubameyang deployed on the left of the attack and supported by Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, the Welshman back at his first club.
Emery’s determination to play from the back saw goalkeeper Petr Cech put under huge pressure in the opening minutes.
Cech was closed down on two occasions before presenting Harry Arter with a clear opportunity that the on-loan Bournemouth midfielder was unable to take.
There was similar confusion at the other end when Ramsey’s effort was pushed out by Neil Etheridge and Mustafi poked the rebound over.
But Arsenal were almost immediately ahead as Mustafi lost his marker, Sol Bamba, at Granit Xhaka’s corner to head home powerfully for his first goal since March.
Bruno Ecuele Manga’s mistake almost allowed Nacho Monreal to double the advantage but Cardiff were full of endeavour and there were plenty of moments to provide encouragement for that elusive goal.
Ward just failed to connect with Bobby Reid’s cross in front of goal and Reid also sent an acrobatic overhead kick over before Lacazette served warning of his threat by striking the Cardiff post from 20 yards.
The goal Cardiff craved came in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half.
Xhaka needlessly gave away possession and Camarasa, the Spanish midfielder on loan from Real Betis, ended Cardiff’s 315-minute wait for a league goal by reacting quicker than Monreal to Joe Bennett’s cross.
Arsenal attempted to reassert their earlier authority after the break as Cardiff were penned back.
Lacazette shot over with his back to goal and Mustafi almost profited from another set-piece.
The pressure told after 62 minutes when Lacazette touched Ozil’s pass onto Aubameyang and the Gabon forward found the bottom corner of Etheridge’s net from 20 yards.
But Cardiff were level eight minutes later when Sean Morrison beat Ramsey in an aerial mismatch from Joe Ralls’ free-kick.
Morrison intelligently directed the ball towards Ward and his header beat the desparing Cech and went in off the far post.
Cardiff were sensing a famous win at that point – but substitute Lucas Torreira soon set up for Lacazette to score his first goal of the season with a thumping near-post finish.