Cardiff 0 Arsenal 0: Dragons breathing fire again and glad Gunners escape the den

26 January 2009 02:03
Hard fought: Cardiff's Gabor Gyepes (left) and Kevin McNaughton (right) of tackle Arsenal's Robin Van Persie   More. MARTIN SAMUEL: Sheffield United's cosy deal to cut out Spring is all wrong Cardiff deserved a replay, admits relieved Wenger as Arsenal close in on Arshavin Cardiff 0 Arsenal 0: The action as it happened Hill-Wood slams 'laughable' Perez over Wenger's Real Madrid link Young Brazilian Denilson is Arsenal's unsung hero, claims manager Wenger ARSENAL FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB The underdogs at Wembley last year, Cardiff were in the hat for the fifth-round draw, which is more than can be said for the holders, Portsmouth, eliminated by Swansea City on Saturday. The reward for such Welsh resistance was thoroughly merited, too, for although it was not one of those matches in which the favourites were clinging on, Cardiff had good early chances and skimmed the bar with three minutes remaining. This fact somewhat undermined the perception of Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, that his side were in control of the second half. On points, Cardiff would have won and David Jones, the manager, was understandably bullish about his chances in the replay, even if the odds have lurched sharply in Arsenal's favour. Crestfallen: Emmanuel Eboue feels the strain 'We have players that aspire to playing at Arsenal's level,' Jones said, 'and they showed with their application that they can match the best. We kept their chances to a minimum and were the equal of them in every department. 'Man for man, every person did his job and our work-rate was phenomenal. To keep a clean sheet against Arsenal is just fantastic. 'I have been asked whether this weekend has put Welsh football on the map, but I thought we did that by reaching the FA Cup Final as a Championship side last year. We are not just trying to take one club forward here, we are trying to lift a nation.' Not so jolly for Roger: Johnson (R) and his Cardiff team-mates rue a missed chance to finish off Arsenal at Ninian Park Jones can be a sensitive soul at times and he seemed genuinely wounded that in injury-time a handful of home fans booed when Joe Ledley elected to take the ball into a corner and wind the clock down rather than attack again. Fixture pile-up: Wenger and Arsenal will have to face Cardiff at the Emirates 'Give us a break, we are playing Arsenal,' he sniffed, but he should take it as a compliment that the supporters were praying, not for the final whistle, but another crack at goal. Wenger did not play his full-strength team, but the understudy that was given greatest chance to shine was Lukasz Fabianski, the reserve goalkeeper. He looked to have got fingertips to Ledley's late shot from 35 yards, even if referee Martin Atkinson gave a goal-kick, but there was no doubt about his involvement in keeping out an effort from Ross McCormack in the 60th minute, tipping round another effort from range that could have set up the shock of the weekend. It was not to be. If the return runs according to form, Cardiff will live to regret their wasted opportunities here. They made an early start, Ledley crossing for McCormack after 11 minutes, only for the striker to head wide unmarked at the far post. Ledley put a shot over the bar after 19 minutes and, from the next attack, Paul Parry cut inside Kolo Toure, the Arsenal defender, but turned in a similarly wild finish. In the final minute of the first half, Chris Burke met a Mark Kennedy cross, but his header was blocked on its way to goal. Shouts for handball seemed as over-egged as Atkinson's decision to book Emmanuel Eboue for diving minutes earlier, when it looked simply that he had gone to ground under the weight of a perfectly fair challenge. No penalty, no dive, the game should just have continued. FA Cup pedigree: Cardiff boss Dave Jones will be proud of the endeavours of his side Maybe it is the referees who need to borrow a slogan from the Football Association and get on with the game. Arsenal sent Emmanuel Adebayor into the fray late on but it made little difference in what was essentially a rather toothless display. They had the odd chance, but nothing special, and their best player was Kieran Gibbs, a 19-year-old filling in at left-back. There was no happy return to Cardiff for Aaron Ramsey, the best prospect to come from these parts for some time and regarded as something of a coup when acquired by Wenger last year. Given a key job in central midfield his passing was off and he was replaced by Abou Diaby with 31 minutes remaining; Arsenal became tighter after that. Peter Enckelman in the Cardiff goal did not get the work-out many expected. He waited until the 22nd minute before dealing with a side-footed shot by Samir Nasri, and it was not until the 63rd that he was tested again by a Robin van Persie shot on the turn. Another curler from Nasri, put in by Adebayor after 76 minutes, concluded Enckelman's significant involvement in the game. In between, Arsenal missed a few. The worst mistake was made by Adebayor at the far post from a cross by Van Persie, but Gibbs went close when he collected a loose ball and struck a low shot after 34 minutes, and Van Persie had a fine free-kick after 55 minutes travel narrowly wide. No breakthrough: Samir Nasri, denied superbly by Cardiff goalkeeper Peter Enckelman, goes close for Arsenal late on The message from the terraces at the end was 'Arsenal, here we come' and, while it is hard to imagine that being much of a threat, the fact that it can be made at all shows how much has changed for both clubs. 'A few years ago we went there and played five in midfield,' added Jones. 'This time we will play our own game and have a go.' Arsenal are not out of this particular valley yet. MATCH FACTS CARDIFF CITY (4-4-2): Enckelman 7; McNaughton 7, R Johnson 8, Gyepes 7, Kennedy 7; Burke 7 (Capaldi 79min, 6), Rae 7, Ledley 8, Parry 7; McCormack 7, Bothroyd 7 (E Johnson 90). ARSENAL (4-4-2): Fabianski 7; Sagna 6, Toure 6, Djourou 6, Gibbs 8; Eboue 6 (Adebayor 66, 5), Song 7, Ramsey 5 (Diaby 59, 5), Nasri 6; Van Persie 6, Bentner 5 (Wilshere 87). Booked: Eboue, Van Persie. Man of the match: Joe Ledley Referee: Martin Atkinson.   More. MARTIN SAMUEL: Sheffield United's cosy deal to cut out Spring is all wrong Cardiff deserved a replay, admits relieved Wenger as Arsenal close in on Arshavin Cardiff 0 Arsenal 0: The action as it happened Hill-Wood slams 'laughable' Perez over Wenger's Real Madrid link Young Brazilian Denilson is Arsenal's unsung hero, claims manager Wenger ARSENAL FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB  

Source: Daily_Mail