The Away Boys were in good voice and contributed to the intense atmosphere in Ninian park. Arsene Wenger made five changes in his lineup, with Song and Keiran Gibbs and Aaron Ramsey being the most notable. With Bendtner up front and Fabianski in goal, this Gunners side had more than enough experience to compete against a well organised Cardiff team. Cardiff were depleted by Whittingham(Hamstring) but fielded ex Gunner Jay Bothroyd and the much talked about Joe Ledley.
The first 20 minutes were a joke, as we never turned up. Cardiff could easily have been 2 nil up after a succession of glaring silly errors from our defence and the failure to keep possession in midfield. Even the normally assured Nasri squandered a cast iron opportunity from exactly the same scenario that he had taken with ease against Hull City, with Robin van Persie being the provider. The worst offenders were Eboue; who got himself booked for diving and at one point he received the ball from 6 yards out and was so surprised that he fell flat on his face, Ramsay; who looked shell shocked upon his return to Cardiff and Song. The back four were turned inside out repeatedly by Cardiff playing with pace down the flanks and pulling the ball inside, The difference being was that when Arsenal did the same there not enough players in the box. Bendtner missed two chances in the period of overtime when it seemed that with a little more composure he could have at least hit the target with his header from 4 yards out. This was a real cup tie atmosphere and one could only hope that Arsenal would come out for the first half with more purpose.
Half time: Cardiff City 0 Arsenal 0
The second half started a little better, and Arsenal managed to keep the ball better than previously. There was more tempo and passes were not given away quite so easily. On 54 mins Robin van Persie free kick from just the right of centre just missed the bottom of Enckelman’s far post. After 59mins Diaby came on for Aaron Ramsey, shortly afterwards McCormack shot from 27 yards was parried wide by Fabianski. On 63 mins RvP forced a point blank save from a tight angle after Song collected the ball from the bye line and laid it inside to the Dutchman. After 66 minutes Eboue who had been booed by the Cardiff fans was taken off with Adabayor coming on. The changes made were positive and together with Cardiff tiring, Arsenal began to dominate the game in midfield. On 75 minutes Adebayor should have sealed the victory but he missed a bouncing ball from 7 yards out after Robin van Persie had crossed the ball from the far left bye line. Within seconds Samir Nasri had a good shot saved by Enckelman.
Arsenal pressed higher up the field and now it was Cardiff who became sloppy and error prone in their passes. They managed to scare the away fans as a 35 yard thunderbolt free kick from McCormack hit the crossbar. The game petered out to the predictable draw, Bendtner was substituted on 88minutes for Jack Wilshere. Cardiff substituted Jay Bothroyd in the closing minutes and David Jones and Arsene Wenger exchanged pleasantries before the 20,079 fans in anticipation of the replay. Arsenal should have won this game, and the replay should be easier. All in all a less than convincing performance from Arsenal in the bear pit that was Ninian park. At least we kept a clean sheet and go into the draw later this evening. I shall be posting the draw live, so come back later to find out who one of these teams will face in the fifth round. My man of the match? Alex Song for his second half performance.
Full time: Cardiff City 0 Arsenal 0
Peter Enckelman, Kevin McNaughton, Gavin Rae, Gabor Gyepes, Paul Parry, Roger Johnson, Joe Ledley, Mark Kennedy, Chris Burke, Jay Bothroyd, Ross McCormack
Subs: Heaton, Capaldi, Purse, Eddie Johnson, McPhail, Comminges, Blake
Lukasz Fabianski, Bacary Sagna, Johan Djourou, Kolo Toure, Kieran Gibbs, Emmanuel Eboue, Alex Song, Aaron Ramsey, Samir Nasri, Robin Van Persie Nicklas Bendtner.
Subs: Manuel Almunia, Jack Wilshere, William Gallas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Vela, Denilson, Abou Diaby
Yellow cards: Eboue, van Persie
Fabregas the King.