Hard to believe we have manoeuvred the banana skin that is November with such aplomb. Even more so when you consider the press decide to pick up on Flamini’s sleeves instead of really praising Arsenal for their start to the season. Top of one of the toughest Champions League groups I have ever seen and with a four point gap over teams that many believed would walk away with the Premier League, we can’t really ask for any more.
I suppose we should expect this now though. Despite the limited funds, the development of young players (many of them English now might I add), the manner in which we play football and our persistence in a good manager, the majority of the English press seem desperate for Arsenal to fall at every hurdle. Anyway, while we keep winning they will keep having to write nonsense about the lengths of a player’s sleeves. Eventually people will stop reading. So, that being said, let’s get the views of some spirited Gooners ahead of Cardiff…
After a woeful week of Internationals the Arsenal made sure it was back to business at the Emirates with a steady, if not wholly scintillating, dispatching of the Saints. An on-song Lallana was kept quiet by Szczesny whose superb form has seen just one goal conceded in six games. His maturity since the start on the season has been astounding and welcomed gratefully by all connected with the club – memories of lapses in concentration are now being replaced by focused performances for the full 90, Boruc take note! Partner that with the BFG who hasn’t conceded a goal in all competitions for over a month now and it’s starting to look a formidable task for many teams to score a goal.
It was a strange game on Saturday. A few misplaced passes from the midfield showed some of the tell-tale signs that the players had been away with lesser capable players shall we say, but nitpicking is a luxury we can have at the top of the table and overall it was a solid performance where points may prove more memorable than the game.
It’s also been some time since Arsenal headed into a Champions League game with such short odds, but the Basel double over Chelsea is proof that no game can be taken for granted these days. Luckily SuperJack saw off any home fears of an upset within a minute and the game never looked in doubt after that. BT’s bid for Champions League rights may mean having to pay a little more per month but with ITV out of the picture surely it will be curtains for Townsend and Tyldesley? For whom the job ‘say what you see’ seems a step too much. Awful commentary compounded by piss poor punditry from Roy ‘charisma’ Keane wasn’t however enough to dampen my spirits on what I thought was an excellent performance from the boys. Another strong stand from the defence bolstered by the returning Flamini allowed the midfield to get creative.
So following those two games, Arsenal go into the this off the back of two, 2-0 wins and look a side with many more gears still to explore as we place one frosty foot into December and the busy festive period. As you say Tom, the lads seem to be getting the job done in games right now and not just controlling games possession wise for a full 90 minutes with nothing to show for it. Teams can have the ball (where we want them to have it) but we are far more ruthless in attack and there are far fewer gaps at the back!
The luxury Wenger has right now too is he can shuffle his midfield and still have a very strong team. The bench last night against Marseille possessed the likes of Cazorla, Walcott and Arteta – with Podolski not too far away after returning to training. For the first time in a long while we have had a good run of results in November. And let’s not forget a certain Welsh wizard who returns to his home City and will no doubt want to put in a good performance. He has been mightily unlucky not to have continued his fine goal-scoring form the past few games with a combination of post and legs keeping him out on a number of occasions. Importantly, he is still finding himself in those positions that can hurt teams.
Wilshere has been somewhat overshadowed of late and will rightly take the superlatives from Tuesday night. However Ramsey, Rosicky and an apparently ‘off form’ Ozil all played their part and at times combined beautifully going forward. Before looking to Cardiff I’d like to put in a special mention for Nacho Man. Monreal showed exactly the kind of determination and focus that Wenger would have been looking for and although Gibbs will certainly return to the team sheet, he will do so knowing that an able deputy is waiting in the wings. Pace, passing and positioning have all improved since he joined, despite limited pitch time and he has an attitude that will endear him to fans for as long as he wants to stay.
I tweeted the other day about just how impressive Ramsey has been this season. When you consider his age, just 22 years old, the young Welshman from Caerphilly has so much potential it is scary. To compare him to Fabregas would be wrong as they are both very different types of players. I lost count of the times against Marseille that he was back winning tackles in our half, almost as many times as he was getting on the end of moves in the opposition half! He has really cemented his position in this Arsenal side and bar Wilshere, who is starting to regain some of the composure we normally associate with his play, there are few players in the League who can fulfil the role Ramsey is at the minute.
You can be sure on Saturday when the Cardiff manager begins to warn his players of the threats Arsenal possess, keeping Ramsey at bay will be top of the priority. A telling reflection when you consider the likes of Cazorla, Ozil and Walcott could all feature.
Just a quick word on Cardiff though, who play with a good spirit and have some dangerous players in the likes of Frazer Campbell, Jordon Mutch and Peter Whittingham. Unlike United, I just feel that if Arsenal manage to get into their rhythm early on it will all be a bit too Mutch for Cardiff to handle (here all week boys)! No, in all seriousness, Campbell caused United’s back four real problems and his pace and trickery is something our defenders haven’t faced for a few games. Now is not the time to start dropping points with a tricky run of games over the festive period. With our neighbours unable to stick the ball in the net even during warm up, it is likely that we will need a win to maintain our lead over last season’s Champions.
My prediction for the weekend Boys though is a 3-1 Arsenal win with a Olly Giroud double and an Aaron Ramey screamer! COYG!!
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