Arsenal 4 – 0 Cardiff City
van Persie (89)
The football fairytellers had their script and rather obliginly, Cardiff decided to let it come true. Eduardo, almost a year to the day, returns to the pitch to score a brace. In fact, it was Arsene who was the spoilsport, substituting the Croat before he could add his hat-trick.
Having said that he would not be playing his Carling Cup team, Wenger did more or less that and was rewarded with the vibrancy in the performance that marked those against Sheffield United and Wigan earlier in the season. Some sort of revenge can no doubt be sought when Burnley pitch up at The Emirates for the fifth round. The way the draw has panned out, it will be criminal if the club are not in the Semi Finals come April.
The goals themselves were little more than one comes to expect from an Arsenal side which is clicking into gear, “typical Arsenal goals“. There could have been more; if Bendtner is serious about ousting current incumbents from the first team, he will need to convert chances rather than hitting the ‘keeper or woodwork from two yards. Maybe that is churlish but another goal would have helped repair his fragile confidence.
Eduardo’s first was the sort of incisive move that has been missing whilst results have been ground out. Freeing Vela on the left he moved into the area to apply the finish from twelve or so yards. The relief spread through the crowd – as well as happiness for the player, rightly so. From the depths of despair when the injury first occurred, he has been a model professional, not whinging in the press, simply getting back to full fitness. It is a credit not just to him but for the staff, family and friends who have supported him on his journey. The weight of scoring his first goal on his return has gone too. As Yazz was wont to say, “The Only Way Is Up“.
It is hard to single out any player as being outstanding; they were all on form. Why it clicked last night is a mystery that Scooby and the Gang would do well to investigate. Yes, Cardiff let them play but others have done so in recent times as well. It was one of those football things; a hammering that had been threatened was finally handed out. Passing was crisp and even, movement swift and meaningful. All that Arsene would have wanted was achieved; goals and a clean sheet.
Post match, Wenger commented of Eduardo:
Of course it is nearly 12 months out and he has been extremely strong mentally during that time, I could never see one minute of doubt in his mind or one minute where he said ‘no, I don’t want to do it’. He always wanted more and this guy is small but has the mental strength of a mountain.
It is also putting Wenger into the sort of position he has wanted to be in for a while; a surfeit of riches in the forward line. All he needs to do now is get his midfielders fit and indeed, he will be a happy man from the selection point of view. News that Cesc is expecting to return to training within ten days is very welcome, as is the possible conclusion of Walcott’s contract negotiations. Happy players off the pitch lead to happy players on it.
Yep, there will be some hyperbole around today. Cardiff are indeed “only” a Championship side. So what? The team can only beat the opposition in front of them. A good day to be a Gooner, indeed.