Arsenal 2 Cardiff City 0 match report: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take Cardiff City job despite advice of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Former United striker watched from the stands at the Emirates

emirates stadium

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was on the verge of becoming Cardiff City’s new manager on Wednesday night, despite the advice of his mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson.

Solskjaer watched Cardiff’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal from the directors’ box, sitting between Cardiff’s controversial owner, Vincent Tan, and chairman Mehmet Dalman. The 40-year-old Norwegian former Manchester United player is due to be announced today as the replacement for Malky Mackay, dismissed by Tan last month.

The decision to take the Cardiff job goes against specific advice Solskjaer received last week from Ferguson, who managed him throughout his 11-year United career before working with him during his two and a half years as reserve team manager at Old Trafford. Ferguson is said to have told Solskjaer to choose the right chairman to work under.

Tan is unpopular with Cardiff fans, for changing the club’s colours from blue to red and then his public undermining and eventual dismissal of Mackay, who won Cardiff’s promotion into the Premier League last year.

Solskjaer flew into London on Tan’s private jet yesterday morning and arrived at the Emirates with the club’s owner in a Rolls-Royce. He met Arsène Wenger before the game but, according to Cardiff’s caretaker manager David Kerslake, did not go into the dressing room to speak to the players. “Cardiff played like they knew he was in the stands,” Wenger said afterwards.

Solskjaer was very successful with Molde during his three years there, winning the Norwegian Premier League with them twice, the first titles in the club’s history, as well as the Norwegian Cup.

In the summer of 2012, he spoke to Aston Villa about their managerial vacancy after the departure of Alex McLeish; that job went to Paul Lambert instead.

“He has already an experience as a manager in Norway,” said Wenger. “So he has learned his job. He was an intelligent player and an intelligent boy as well and that will help him to be successful. He will do well.”

On the pitch, Arsenal looked to have slipped up with two minutes left, and the score still 0-0. That result would have seen them fall behind Manchester City in the table and leave them level with Chelsea. It would have felt like a betrayal of those hard-fought away wins at West Ham and Newcastle and a sign that Arsenal did not have the squad depth of their title rivals.

It had certainly not been an inspiring performance from Arsenal, as, in their fourth game in 10 days, without their best striker and two best midfielders, they struggled to break down a typically resolute Cardiff side. But then, in the penultimate minute of normal time, Nacho Monreal swung over a cross from the left. Bacary Sagna headed it at the far post, David Marshall saved well only for Nicklas Bendtner, on as a substitute for Lukas Podolski, to lash the ball into the net.

The celebrations were raucous, as 88 minutes of pressure and tension were relieved, and only once all his team-mates peeled away from Bendtner did it become clear that he had twisted his ankle in the process of scoring the goal, colliding with Marshall. This was Bendtner’s most important intervention in an Arsenal shirt since April 2010 – an injury-time winner at home against Wolves – but now he will be out for a few weeks.

Nicklas Bendtner thrashes in Arsenal's opener Nicklas Bendtner thrashes in Arsenal's opener  

“I am very sad for us but for him as well,” said Wenger, who has kept more faith in Bendtner than most. “I never give up on people, because you always have to give them credit. I told him already today that he is back to the level I want him to be, and if he can continue to develop like that, he can continue in the team.” Bendtner is out of contract in the summer but Wenger said that he was still focused on Arsenal.

After the Dane’s goal, the pressure was off and Arsenal scored a second in added time. Tomas Rosicky, who was impressive after coming on, passed forward to Jack Wilshere, who played a delightful flick through for Theo Walcott to chip Marshall.

There was relief at the end, but also a sense that this was a more impressive win than it first looked. As Wenger acknowledged after the match, winning contributions from the bench, especially from fringe players, characterise successful teams.

“We have a good togetherness in the side, the players come on with the right attitude and that makes the difference,” Wenger said. “You know that if you do not have that in the championship [race], then you have no chance to do it. We have that in the squad, we have to take care of that spirit and show it in every game.”

It did not look, during the first half, that Arsenal had those resources within them. Their hectic festive schedule – exacerbated by playing Chelsea on Monday 23 December rather than the 21st or 22nd – had deprived them yesterday of Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.

Nicklas Bendtner goes down holding his ankle after scoring Nicklas Bendtner goes down holding his ankle after scoring  

Podolski was chosen ahead of Bendtner, but looked like a man who had not started up front all season. Wenger admitting afterwards that he “lacked sharpness”. With no real presence in the box, and lack of imagination from midfield, Arsenal struggled to create much of any note. “We had a slow start,” said Wenger, “as can happen sometimes when you play so many games.”

This was Kerslake’s last game in temporary charge of Cardiff, and he said he was “immensely proud” of his team’s performance, and understandably so. Steven Caulker and Ben Turner were excellent at centre-back, Kerslake saying afterwards that Caulker “can go on and be absolutely anything”. Not many 22-year-olds captain and organise top-flight teams like Caulker does, and he will be a rock on which Solskjaer builds his Cardiff team.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Szczesny 6; Sagna 7, Mertesacker 6, Koscielny 6, Monreal 7; Flamini 5 (Rosicky, 64, 7), Arteta 6; Walcott 6, Wilshere 7, Cazorla 6; Podolski 4 (Bendtner, 64, 7)

Cardiff (4-4-1-1) Marshall 7; McNaughton, 6, Caulker 7, Taylor 7, John 6; Noone 7, Medel 6 (Cowie 67, 6), Whittingham 6, Kim 6; Mutch 7 (Cowie, 67, 5); Campbell 6 (Maynard 79)

Man of the match: Wilshere

Match Rating: 5/10

Suggested Topics
Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit