Two-goal Pires puts Gunners in driving seat

Robert Pires struck twice before half-time to give FA Cup holders Arsenal a commanding lead against Championship Cardiff at Highbury.

HT: Arsenal 2 Cardiff 0

Robert Pires struck twice before half-time to give FA Cup holders Arsenal a commanding lead against Championship Cardiff at Highbury.

Pires struck first on six minutes after Cameron Jerome had wasted an early half-chance for the visitors, before doubling Arsenal’s lead 12 minutes later.

Despite some uncertainty in defence, the Gunners were always dangerous going forward – even without Thierry Henry, who was rested on the day he pledged to stay at the club.

Gilberto was inches wide with a drive soon afterwards, while Senderos headed Bergkamp’s free-kick narrowly past the post as Arsenal continued to threaten.

Their domination was such that Reyes’ apparent theatrics seemed over the top as he went down dramatically under challenges from Jeff Whitley and Darren Purse.

Mathieu Flamini was still brought crashing down by Glenn Loovens, which earned a booking for the Cardiff defender – a childhood friend of van Persie.

Otherwise, however, Arsenal were coasting as the interval approached, with Cardiff posing little threat as an attacking force.

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