Of all the tedious things footballers can do to kill the joy in a sport that’s not as spontaneous and fun as it used to be comes the non celebration after scoring against former clubs. Aaron Ramsey is playing as well as anyone in the Premier League right now, adding two more goals in the fantastic title run Arsenal are having, but he sullied a wonderful afternoon by choosing to do the “classy” thing instead of letting out his true emotions.
On a more serious note, the 3-0 win in Cardiff, a team that’s taken points from Manchester City and Manchester United upon their visits to Wales, might be the biggest of the season for Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey scored twice and was by far the best player on the pitch for an Arsenal team that dominated possession and was also the more dangerous of sides against a very tough to beat team, but he needed some big help from Wojciech Szczesny in his true coming of age season.
The 23-year old Polish goalkeeper has never been a sign of consistency until this season, in which Arsenal have conceded only 10 goals in 13 matches, resulting in a seven point lead at the top of the table, missing out on only 8 points so far. Szczesny doesn’t make mistakes or crazy, difficult to explain decisions. Simply a rock behind a solid defensive unit, which might be the best example of everything coming together for Wenger this season.
Not all was great and good for the league leaders in Cardiff, despite the impressive win. The scoreline doesn’t tell the true story, as Mathieu Flamini and Ramsey’s second came within the final six minutes of the match, including injury time. Cardiff weren’t as dangerous as they were in the draw with Manchester United, but it was a tricky affair as expected, with Arsenal having a moment or two to be worried about.
Mesut Ozil continues to be someone that’s not put in a decent performance in over a month. Everyone knew about his knack to pull of disappearing acts while playing for Real Madrid, and that he’s never going to be the world’s greatest goalscorer. However, there comes a point when Wenger must be thinking about giving him a match or two to rest and recharge, because right now Arsenal are getting nothing from their most expensive, and on paper, best player.
Olivier Giroud is another player who might use a rest but Wenger has no one to use instead of him. It’s hard to blame fatigue on the comical moment Giroud provided, not realizing he was onside after a through ball put him in a one on one situation until it was too late and he had a defender marking him, but Arsenal are bringing back Theo Walcott slowly. Maybe, it should be by giving Giroud some minutes on the bench, instead of coming in for midfielders, something Wenger has plenty of.
Champions team? In this Premier League, there’s no doubt. Unlike previous years, Arsenal are picking up the points we expect them to miss – on tough away matches against “small” teams. With his kind of focus and commitment, losses to Manchester United or similar teams won’t mean much in the end.