We were made to work hard by Cardiff City for our first away win of the Unai Emery era.
Shkodran Mustafi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette all scored to give us an entertaining 3-2 win - but what did we learn from the game? Read on for some of the key points.
- Read our match report from an entertaining game
- Emery's press conference: every single word
- 'I love coming back here... it's emotional'
- 'Friendship with Auba helps us on the pitch'
Alex Lacazette has had to wait patiently for his chance - and he did not waste it. Even before his venomously-struck winner at Cardiff he had been our standout player. Laca relished the battle, leading our pressing game from the front while taking a buffeting from two bulky centre backs. He linked up play well, showing a deft touch to set up chances for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Aaron Ramsey - one was taken, one was not. He even hit the post before scoring his fifth goal in his last five starts. The inclusion of Laca means Auba moves to the left, but it worked. Their blossoming partnership will be hard to split up.
GUENDOUZI LEARNS FAST
Matteo Guendouzi was the subject of one of Sunday’s most eye-catching stats: he’s only the fourth teenager to start the first four Premier League games of an Arsenal season. The other three? Nicolas Anelka, Cesc Fabregas… and Johan Djourou. Well done if you knew the last one without checking. As for Guendouzi, he clearly learns fast. His top-flight debut against Manchester City was promising, but it was punctuated with moments of hesitation that saw him get caught on the ball. Not everything Guendouzi tried in Cardiff came off either - that’s asking rather too much of a 19-year-old in his fourth game - but he is much more savvy when he’s in possession.
Shkodran Mustafi isn’t the tallest centre back at Arsenal, let alone in the Premier League. But although the likes of Sol Bamba towered over him on Sunday, Mustafi was the one who hit the heights when it mattered. He makes intelligent runs inside the box, he has a powerful leap, and anyone who saw his goal against Spurs last season knows about his accuracy. Mustafi’s goal at Cardiff was the result of a darting run to lose his man at the near post, and he got away from Bamba in the second half too to threaten again. Five of Mustafi’s six Premier League goals have been headers and, on this evidence, he’ll add to that tally soon.
Four wins on the road in the Premier League last season tested everyone’s patience - not least those who follow us away from home. Another large Arsenal contingent made their way to the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday and they made themselves heard in the away end. Responding positively when our players rolled up their sleeves to deal with Cardiff’s physical threat, our fans are willing to be patient while Unai Emery instils his philosophy. At the end of the game our players went over to show their appreciation - Lucas Torreira even gave away his shirt - and the mutual respect at the start of this new era is good to see.
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