Arsenal v Cardiff City
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: January 1, 2014 3:00 PM BST
Two late goals against a very defensive Cardiff side saved top spot for the Gunners. Here are the player ratings from today’s match.
Wojciech Szczesny | 7.0: Saved Mutch’s attempt in the first half and had to deal with a poor Flamini back-pass on one occasion. Another clean sheet under his belt.
Bacary Sagna | 7.5: Did his job well and it was his header that Marshall had managed only to deflect before Bendtner scored.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.5: Kept Campbell at bay and never put a foot wrong. Another excellent performance.
Per Mertesacker | 7.0: Got a yellow card for the first time since the game against Liverpool on 30th January 2013. Should have scored at least once from either of his chances but the most important thing is that his partnership with Koscielny produced another clean sheet.
Nacho Monreal | 7.5: Had a dangerous cross in the first half that wasn’t met by his team-mates. Had one suspicious situation in which we could have conceded a penalty. A good performance, unlike the one against Manchester City.
Mikel Arteta | 7.0: Arteta sat deeper than Flamini and protected our back four against our not-so-demanding opponents. A solid performance from our skipper. It’s interesting to note that we haven’t reached double digits when it comes to goals conceded with Arteta in the starting eleven.
Mathieu Flamini | 6.0: Played in a more advanced role but hadn’t done much before Rosicky replaced him. He nearly got us into trouble with a back-pass to Szczesny but the Pole rescued us.
Jack Wilshere | 8.5 (MoTM): It’s unusual to see a birthday boy handing out presents instead of receiving them, but Wilshere gave us a really nice gift for his birthday. He was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the first half but grabbed himself an assist anyway with a flick for Walcott in the last minutes of the game. Given that Aaron Ramsey is out for three weeks, we’ll need Jack at his best for the forthcoming fixtures.
Theo Walcott | 7.5: Tried from the very start to make things happen and eventually picked his fifth goal in the Premiership with a lovely chip. He was a bit selfish in the first half – he should have passed the ball to Podolski who was in a much better position but instead opted for a shot from an awkward angle.
Santi Cazorla | 7.25: He was in the game and showed some of his passing skills. In Özil’s absence Santi has to show his best football.
Lukas Podolski | 5.0: I wasn’t too excited when I saw that Lukas would replace Giroud in the starting line-up. Most people might have noticed during Giroud’s three-match-ban last term when Podolski wasn’t able to replace Frenchman convincingly. Podolski’s qualities are more suitable for some sort of central striker who operates more on the left. However, now that we lost Bendtner to injury, Podolski might get another chance to prove otherwise.
Nicklas Bendtner | 7.75: Scored the game-winner which might force a blogger Armchair Gooner to fulfill his brave promise. He should have had a run as the central striker in Giroud’s absence but the injury he suffered while scoring will keep him off the pitch for weeks.
Tomas Rosicky | 7.5: His introduction gave us a stronger passing game.
Thomas Vermaelen | N/A: Replaced injured Bendtner late on.