CARDIFF CITY 0 ARSENAL 3
Before the game I’m sure our rivals looked at this fixture as one we may drop points in. Man City lost 3-2 earlier in the season, while just last weekend United drew 2-2 (having led twice). But our rivals were left disappointed, as another excellent performance saw The Arsenal come home from Cardiff with three goals and three points.
We looked impressive from the very first whistle and almost had an early lead when Jack Wilshere’s effort cannoned back off the crossbar. But we didn’t have to wait too much longer as the first goal eventually came via an excellent Aaron Ramsey header from a pinpoint Özil cross.
We continued to look comfortable for the remainder of the game, but as long as a game remains only 1-0 there’s always the concern that one moment of opposition brilliance or one mistake by us and you’re all tied at 1-1. Thankfully Szczęsny continued his fine form with an astonishing save from Fraser Campbell, before Flamini sealed the win four minutes from time as he smashed home following a delicious slide-rule pass from Özil.
A cherry was then added to the top of the cake as an Arsenal counter attack, led by Walcott, was finished off with aplomb by Ramsey. Two goals and an outstanding performance from Aaron on his return to his hometown club. Ramsey decided to not celebrate either of his goals, which was a nice touch appreciated by the home crowd who applauded both goals and showed their respect once again the full-time whistle with a standing ovation, to which Ramsey responded by doing the Ayatollah. So everyone went home in good spirits after another great result for The Arsenal.
ARSENAL 2 HULL CITY 0
Arsene made five changes from the side that beat Cardiff, but the performance of the team and the attitude they displayed was of equal quality as Hull City were brushed aside 2-0.
It’s become very noticeable how quickly we’re looking to start games now. Napoli were blown away earlier in the season, whilst recent games have seen Wilshere score after 30 seconds versus Marseille and rattle the woodwork against Cardiff after just a minute. This time it was the turn of Bendtner (in for the rested Giroud) who gave us the lead in the second minute following a lovely pass from Ramsey to Jenkinson, who then whipped in a delightful cross. Bendtner may be a crazy fucking arse, but even he couldn’t miss; it was handed to him on a plate.
The football we played in the opening half an hour was absolutely sumptuous. The one and two touch football was quick and incisive; chances were created with ease as Hull chased our shadows. Incredibly we went in at half time with only Bendtner’s early goal to show for our efforts, but the second half began just as the first did; with an early goal.
Monreal just managed to keep the ball in down our left hand side and following some lovely interchange Ramsey played a quite incredible reverse ball to Özil, who coolly slotted home.
It was a fabulous assist that reminded me of a young Cesc Fabregas teeing up Freddie Ljungberg in the 5-4 victory at Shite Hart Lane in the 2004/05 season. After the game Steve Bruce said he was relieved to have avoided embarrassment, whilst Arsene said:
We had a good night because we had a good control of the game. We had some great technical quality and kept a clean sheet. We rotated quite a bit as well. We couldn’t take all the chances we created but overall it was a very convincing performance.
So the perfect start to a very busy and very tricky December. As mentioned, Arsene made five changes last night and rotation will continue to be important during this festive period. It’s funny because in seasons gone by people kept saying how we had a very good starting eleven, but bemoaned the lack of strength in-depth. Now we have that strength in-depth and people are complaining that they want the best eleven played in every game. That’s just not feasible and I for one was pleased to see some rotation last night and I was even more pleased to see Bendtner, Jenkinson, and Monreal putting in some very good performances. The spirit and togetherness in this squad is fantastic; long may it continue!
Next up is the difficult run of Everton, Napoli, Man City, and Chelsea. We go into it 4 points clear at the top of the league and full of confidence so let’s just focus on one game at a time, starting with Everton on Sunday. Whatever happens results wise, you know this group of players will continue to give it their all. Up The Arsenal.