Vela became ill in the warm up so wasn't on our bench today and Arsene made five changes - with Fabianski, Gibbs, Ramsey, Song and Bendtner all starting.
Ninian Park is a ground with old style tin sheds, supporting posts to inhibit the viewing and still has some terraces to stand on. That together with some old style moronic supporters who booed Ramsey throughout ensured a decent old style cup-tie atmosphere for the most part.
Cardiff are a top half Championship team with nothing to loose and as expected gave it there all. Especially during the first quarter of an hour when we could, and maybe should, have been 2 goals down. Cardiff made the most of Arsenal's tendency to watch the play in midfield with Ramsey having a shocker by his high standards. Maybe the disappointment of Cardiff's moronic supporters booing played its part and got to him, whatever the reason his passing wasn't on song. And speaking of Song, he started so slowly he was almost going backwards, although he did become progressively better as the game progressed and ended the match bossing midfield. As for the rest of the boys in yellow, well they were misplacing passes before the break as if they were Tottenham in disguise, especially up until the twenty-minute mark.
Early doors Bothroyd was very much up for it and winning everything in the air. McCormack was here there and everywhere and looking dangerous. Gibbs couldn't get to grips with Burke while Cardiff's left flank was also giving Sagna a tough time. Still at least our centre backs were talking to one another today. Arsenal played a high line at the back and on at least one occasion, when McCormack headed wide, the offside flag was not raised and an offside decision wasn't given as it should have been. McCormack again shot just wide, Ledley missed a sitter, Parry fired over. Cardiff were well on top. At the other end Nic was working hard to close but he and Robin were not seeing too much of the ball.
With twenty minutes gone we had a spell where we showed that we could, if we made the effort, take control. But although this was a decent spell we didn't really dominate the rest of the half although we did begin to create some chances. Nasri had a good chance but it was saved, perhaps he had too much time on this occasion. Song shot wide before Gibbs began to get a handle on Burke and found time to get forward, as he did when winning good ball, getting involved in the move and finishing it by shooting just wide. Bendtner with a good cross to Nasri beyond the far post, he found Robin in the middle but his shot was not as he'd have wanted it to be.
Eboue went down in their box, there had been some contact, it wasn't a penalty and it wasn't a dive. But his reputation preceded him and he got a yellow for simulation. An absolute bollocks decision from referee Martin Atkinson. Eboue later missed a golden chance to score, as is his norm. In the two minutes added time Arsenal won a corner that Bendtner headed over. A goal less first half then, in what had been quite a decent match thus far.
Arsenal started the second half the brighter, winning a corner as early as the first minute. We maintained our dominance throughout the half. Robin ploughed through but toe-poked his attempt on goal over. Parry had a header straight at Fabianski. Song was fouled in a good position for a van Persie free kick, which he fired just wide with the keeper firmly rooted to the spot. Fab was out fast to clear well. The Adebayor chant could be heard from the Gooners behind Fab's goal. A fine cross from Gibbs just cleared Bendtner's head before Cardiff came reasonably close to an own goal. The unfortunate Ramsey, whose performance had been very sub-par was substituted on 58 minutes and Diaby replaced him.
McCormack had a shot very well saved for a corner and Johnson headed one over the bar. Diaby was whacked in the face and stayed down. Atkinson failed to see McCormack's elbow make the contact. Enckelman saved with his feet from Robin. Nic with a rather woeful overhead shot. Adebayor replaced Eboooue. Ade was immediately heading the ball on for Robin who again saw his shot blocked. A miss kick by Song in our box. 'Oo to, oo to be, oo to be a Gooner'. Robin still looked the most likely to break the deadlock as Arsenal grew stronger and bossed midfield almost totally.
Adebayor had the miss of the game with an attempt that seemed to come off his shin. I'll swear that even 'Harry the Twitch's' missus could have scored that one! Nasri with a shot well stopped. Song looking strong, winning the ball well and setting up another attack. Capaldi came on for Burke. It was all Arsenal now but we still lacked the killer ball or killer shot. Cardiff were hanging on as Arsenal's two full backs were in the Cardiff half for most of the time now. Rae stumbled and was awarded a free kick which McCormack fired in, it grazed the top of the bar although Fabianski did in fact have it covered had it dipped a tad more.
Wilshere was given a three-minute run out when he replaced of Nic. Adebayor was nearly in but it was slashed clear for another Arsenal corner. In the three minutes added time Robin pulled out of a tackle, there was no contact made but Atkinson felt compelled to award Cardiff a free kick and give Robin a very undeserved yellow card. For this and other dubious calls Atkinson now joins my ever growing crap refs list.
Nil-nil final score and a replay that probably neither side wanted.