Cardiff 0 Arsenal 3: The Homecoming Hero Haunts his Old Team
Cardiff City Stadium (Premier League)
Cardiff (0); Arsenal – Ramsey (29′, 90′), Flamini (86′)
With the games coming thick and fast, the Gunners had dispatched Olympique Marseille in the Champions League and had the threat of Cardiff City to contend with in the Premier League. The hosts had taken points off both Manchester clubs at home and Arsenal’s fierce rivals, Tottenham, had to dig really deep to get a victory in Wales so it was going to be a tough tie.
Arsene Wenger, rightfully, fielded the same side that was victorious against L ‘OM with the exception of Kieran Gibbs returning to the side after an illness suffered in midweek. Right from the onset, Arsenal launched an attack with Aaron Ramsey teeing up Jack Wilshere at the edge of the box. The Englishman left his marker for dead, picked his spot and slammed the cross bar with a sweetly curled shot.
The next noteworthy highlight came when Bacary Sagna and Per Mertesacker collided when the Big Friendly German coming second best before falling on the turf like a sack of potatoes. With his jersey stained with blood, he had to get a new pair from Vik Akers and there was no scissors available to cut it like some people we know.
Cardiff had a rare foray forward through Theophile-Catherine and he lofted a cross that was headed wide by Frazier Campbell. Arsenal’s next wave of attack had a comical twist as Olivier Giroud received a pass from Wilshere that had a minute nudge of Mesut Ozil. With Giroud believing that he was offside, he inexplicably came to a halt as did the opposition defenders but when he realized that the linesman’s flag was down, he attacked the ball but the defenders blocked it.
Ozil broke away from his marker and located Santi Cazorla. The Spaniard sighted an onrushing Gibbs and supplied a pin-point pass but the English fullback miscued his effort in front of goal. Ozil was in the thick of things yet again and he darted with the ball and had a plethora of options in front of him.
With Giroud running across, he took a defender with him which cleared the path for Ramsey to lurk into the area and superbly guide Ozil’s peach of a pass to the net, leaving Marshall no chance in Hell. As you would expect from a player like Ramsey that exudes class, he was delighted for getting his first goal in four games (he hasn’t scored since Liverpool) but he chose to have a muted celebration, much to the delight of the Cardiff fans that cheered him on.
Peter Whittingham was targeted as a danger man for the hosts due to his dead ball prowess and it was on show yet again as he swung in several dangerous crosses into Arsenal’s box but when Kim failed to connect with the ball, Mutch attempted a bicycle kick that went wide off the mark.
Gibbs moved with the ball on the left before dinking it to a tightly marked Giroud that manage to break away from the defender before blasting a shot that was blocked for a corner kick. Arsenal launched a counter attack and Giroud did well to chip the ball for Ramsey who controlled the ball superbly but his shot went over the bar. Arteta showed some brilliant movement to evade a couple of markers before sending a diagonal pass to Ozil. The German schemer dallied on the ball before carefully threading it to Wilshere but the English maestro failed to connect well with the ball and it fell kindly for the goalie.
At the start of the second half, Arsenal exchanged some neat passes before the ball fell into Ramsey’s path. The Welsh man on fire somehow managed to squeeze through Kim and Whittingham before feeding Giroud in the six yard box but the French striker’s shot was blocked off by a defender on the line.
With the Gunners failing to capitalize on their chances, Cardiff pressed on and grew in confidence. With the home side on the ascendancy, Taylor lofted a cross that was headed goalwards by Frazier Campbell. Up stepped Szczesny to make another fantastic save to keep Cardiff at bay.
Shortly after the save, Mutch swung a cross that was nodded straight to Whittingham’s path by Gibbs but the midfielder missed his effort by a wild margin, much to the amazement of the away fans. Theophile-Catherine surged forward and fired a shot but Szczesny dived low to smother the ball.
Cazorla was having a bad day in the office and Wenger put him out of his misery by summoning Mathieu Flamini to add steel to the midfield. With the Flamster joining the fray, Wenger showed his tactical genius by drafting Ozil to the right flank while Aaron Ramsey played in the hole behind the attack. Shortly afterwards, Nacho Monreal came in for Jack Wilshere to protect Gibbs on the left.
Cardiff attacked with Whittingham whose ball located substitute Noone and the winger’s cross was headed goalwards by Cowie but Szczesny was on hand to make a good save. Arsenal turned the screw by launching a counter attack through Ozil. The German playmaker saw Flamini on the clear and sent a sweet pass to the Frenchman and he was no time blasting the ball to the roof of the net to put the game beyond doubt.
At the dying minutes, Theo Walcott replaced a clearly jaded Ozil and it took the speedster just 48 seconds to create an assist for Ramsey that latched unto his pass and fired a sumptuous shot past Marshall to put the icing on a well baked cake.
Arsenal’s man on fire, Aaron Ramsey, has scored 14 Premier League goals for Arsenal; he has equalled John Hartson’s record for most Premier League goals for the club from a Welsh player. Hartson scored 14 between 1995 and 1997. In this form, he’s the forerunner for the Player of the Year awards, alongside Sergio Aguero.
The victory puts the Gunners seven points clear of Liverpool and Chelsea that play today.
Better days are here again and it got even sweeter for me as I predicted the exact scoreline in the Canon Crested Prediction League, where there are awesome prices up for grabs if you predict Arsenal’s scores right.
An article on the performances in November comes up tomorrow, get ready to place your votes.
Gooner Daily has been nominated for the Best Sports blog category in the 2013 Nigerian Blog Awards. Please vote!
You can download the Gooner Daily BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.
You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back
Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page and click on the like button.
You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button