Jan 1, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT
Arsenal’s back atop the Premier League after wearing down Cardiff City on Saturday for a 2-0 win.
The Gunners were nothing less than dominant but needed 88 minutes to notch the match’s first goal.
The constant knocking was rewarded when Nicklas Bendtner easily collected a doorstep rebound and slotted home in the 88th minute, giving Arsenal their late winner. Theo Walcott added insurance moments later to ice the match.
The game began and the clock struck 13 just after Walcott slid onto the end of a cross to the left side of the area, but the speedy Englishman could only put the ball into the outside of the net.
Arsenal found some danger in the 16th minute when Gary Medel found himself out of position and made a poor tackle. The free kick came just outside of the 18 and Bacary Sagna blasted the ball into the wall.
Cries for a Jack Wilshere penalty in the 25th minute went unheeded after another hatchet job from Medel. Moments later, Walcott sent a strong effort just over the bar.
To be fair to the Gunners, they hadn’t converted upon 35 minutes despite absolutely dominating possession. Cardiff seemed content to block shot after shot from distance.
Arsenal maintained their edge for the first 10-12 minutes of the second half before Cardiff began to mount a true challenge, troubling Wojciech Szczesny on a couple occasions.
And then, it was just more for Arsenal. Free headers, corners, open looks from inside the area… nothing would come. Per Mertesacker‘s header glanced off the post in the 69th minute.
Walcott was inches off all match, as his free kick in the 76th minute looked wonderful but went just over the bar.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Flamini (Vermaelen, 65), Wilshere, Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski (Bendtner, 64)
Goals: Bendtner (88), Walcott (90+2)
Cardiff City: Marshall; McNaughton, Caulker, Turner, John; Whittingham, Medel (Gunnarson, 61), Kim, Noone, Mutch (Cowie, 67); Campbell (Maynard, 80)
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