Arsenal draw with Cardiff in FA Cup

Arsenal 0 Cardiff 0
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The Independent Football

Arsenal had to settle for a 0-0 draw with Cardiff after a battling performance by the League Championship side in the fourth round of the FA Cup Sunday.

Cardiff, last season's runner-up, had several chances in the early stages and nearly snatched a late victory when Ross McCormack clipped the crossbar from 25 meters (yards) in the last three minutes.

"They had two or three good chances and it was uncomfortable because they had some good crosses and in the box they were always present," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

"In the second half they defended deeper, we were more dominant, but I felt the quality of their defending, and a little bit the pitch as well, stopped us from finding a hole in their defense and that explains the 0-0."

The draw forced a replay at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on Feb. 3.

"We are very short at the moment and cannot rotate very much," Wenger said. "I could rest a few players today but not as many as I had wanted."

Cardiff, which is pushing for promotion, gets another chance to test its credentials against Premier League opposition and to earn extra revenue.

"Wenger is fighting on three fronts at the moment so if he wants to give me the game, we won't go down to the Emirates," said Cardiff manager Dave Jones. "Although the chairman wouldn't be happy — it's a massive payday."

Returning to the city where they beat Manchester United in the 2005 final, the Gunners were fortunate that their hosts were so wasteful in front of goal — particularly in the opening 20 minutes.

"The Championship team was highly committed, came out sharper and tried to put us under pressure," Wenger said.

New Cardiff signing Chris Burke's shot was blocked by Arsenal captain Kolo Toure and fellow Scot McCormack headed wide for Cardiff, which lost to Portsmouth in the final last May.

When Arsenal's former Cardiff midfielder Aaron Ramsey lost possession, Jay Bothroyd, who switched teams in the opposite direction, picked up the ball and unleashed a fierce strike from 30 meters (yards) that flew over.

The Welsh supremacy continued as Cardiff threatened to repeat the 1927 FA Cup final victory over Arsenal. McCormack and Joe Ledley volleyed clear of the target, while Paul Parry slipped past Toure in the box but shot over from close range.

"We had a couple of chances in the first half to win the game but Arsenal kept their shape," Ledley said. "It will be great for us to go to the Emirates — it's a great stadium to play at."

Arsenal — trophyless since the 2005 triumph — took 21 minutes to mount its first serious attack with Robin van Persie releasing Samir Nasri in space, but the onrushing Cardiff goalkeeper Peter Enckelman blocked the shot.

As the pace of the game slowed down, Arsenal's threat gathered momentum. Alexandre Song and Kieron Gibbs struck wide from the edge of the penalty area, and the visitors did no better from more advanced positions.

Van Persie's strike lacked the power to trouble Enckelman, and Nicklas Bendtner headed over from four meters (yards).

After the break, van Persie burst past three defenders only to fire over and Gibbs lofted the ball high into the stand when trying his luck from distance.

Cardiff pressed for an upset victory at Ninian Park before leaving the old stadium at the end of the season and Parry headed Bothroyd's cross at goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who also tipped over McCormack's speculative long-ranger.

Emmanuel Adebayor replaced Emmanuel Eboue in the 66th and mis-hit a volley wide at the back post.

Premier League sides Chelsea, Fulham, Hull, Manchester United, Middlesbrough and West Ham reached the fifth round on Saturday. Portsmouth's reign as FA Cup holders was ended by Swansea.