Aaron Ramsey returned to Cardiff to help league leaders, Arsenal, defeat the Welsh outfit, 51 years after both teams met in the Premier League.
Frenchman Mathieu Flamini, who complemented Ramsey’s brace, paid the price for cutting the sleeves of his shirt in midweek’s win over Marseille by starting from the bench while Kieran Gibbs and Mikel Arteta both returned.
Arsene Wenger’s ‘Gunners’ ensured they go seven points clear at the summit of the league table with Chelsea, Liverpool and Southampton all in action tomorrow.
Cardiff coach Malky Mackay made a change from the team that started against Manchester United last week as Kim Bo-Kyung, who sneaked in a late equaliser, was preferred to Peter Odemwingie.
It took the inform Jack Wilshere 30 seconds to open scoring against Marseille last time out and he nearly repeated such feat after two minutes, when he smacked a wonderful curler against the post from the edge of the area following a Ramsey assist.
Soon after, Per Mertesacker, who has been impressive for Arsenal so far in the season, was involved in a clash of heads with teammate Bacary Sagna. The hosts tried taking advantage of the one-man deficit while the German was out receiving treatment, Kevin Theophile-Catherine’s cross from the right met Fraizer Campbell, but the striker’s header crept side of the far post.
Lo and behold, Olivier Giroud refused to play to the whistle in the 15th minute, the Frenchman thought he was offside and stopped- only to see the flag down- at which point his right-footed shot from the centre of the box was blocked.
Arsenal continued to press for the opener with a large contingent of Wenger’s men prowling in and around the Cardiff penalty area.
Ramsey opened scoring against his former club a minute to the half-hour mark to the delight of the whole stadium. An inch perfect Mesut Ozil cross from the left met the Welshman, who then thundered home a header.
Cardiff got close to leveling scores five minutes later, but Jordon Mutch’s hooked effort from a free-kick missed to the right of goal.
Wenger’s men were a-goal up at half-time as Cardiff’s fighting spirit seem to have just begun.
Having watched the ‘Bluebirds’ score a late leveler against United last time out, Arsenal almost doubled their lead at the start of the second-half, when Ramsey crossed for Giroud, whose goalbound effort was cleared off the line by Ben Turner.
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny pulled off a superb save in the 51st minute as Campbell rose highest to power in a low header from a flick-on from the left which was heading into the corner before the Pole turned it away.
Cardiff began pushing for an equalizer with a dogged determination, getting into Arsenal’s half and winning set-pieces.
And with just a one-goal lead, the Gunners knew they needed a second to ensure safety. Santi Carzola’s left-footed shot from inside of the box eight minutes after the hour mark was saved by goalkeeper David Marshall.
The Spaniard was replaced by Flamini on 77 minutes and the Frenchman waited for 9 minutes to increase the tally. Again, Ozil was the provider. He picked out Flamini, who fired from the centre of the box to the top right corner.
Relative safety for the Gunners, who were itching for more, and Ramsey completed scoring on the nick of full-time to increase his league strikes this season to eight in 13 games.