Cardiff 0 Arsenal 3
Wojciech Szczesny has little doubt that if Arsenal continue to perform as they did at Cardiff on Saturday, the club’s 10-year wait for silverware will come to an end in May.
His post-match revelation, after goals from Aaron Ramsey and substitute Mathieu Flamini had seen off Cardiff, would certainly not have gone down well with Arsene Wenger.
After all, the manager has spent the best part of the last month suggesting the subject of titles and trophies has no place in the dressing room prior to Christmas.
Even Szczesny himself was unwilling, at the outset, to enter into any such discussion. “You can talk about the title challenge, but I don’t want to talk about it. I want to talk about Hull City. If we get three points on Wednesday, then we’ll be in a very comfortable position for you guys to talk about the title challenge.”
However, buoyed by a 10th victory in 13 games this season, the Pole went on to say: “We’re in a position that we’d like to be in for as long as possible.
“It really doesn’t matter where we are now. It matters where we are in May and if we carry on like we are now then I’m certain we’ll be top in May.”
Ramsey was once again the Gunners’ stand-out performer. The Welshman helped himself to another two goals, against his former club, to make it 13 in 22 games of league and cup football this season.
Szczesny said: “I’m as amazed as everyone else. We always knew he was a good player, but to score as many goals as he has, is amazing.”
Ramsey broke the deadlock in the 29th minute with a firm header from Mesut Ozil’s measured cross. Substitute Flamini, whose 76th-minute introduction said more about Wenger’s bid to hold onto his side’s slender lead, popped up to double Arsenal’s advantage four minutes from time. Then, in stoppage time, and with Cardiff seeking a consolation goal, Ramsey exchanged passes with Theo Walcott before beating David Marshall.
A product of Cardiff City’s academy and whose parents still live less than 10 miles from the City ground, Ramsey chose not to celebrate either goal in respect to his former club.
He even got a standing ovation from the home fans for that reaction. For Szczesny, it was no surprise.
“It was obvious that if anyone was going to score then it would be Aaron.
“He’s been through a lot and has come back so well. I just hope he continues. ‘Is he the best in the league?’ I don’t care as long as he does a job for the team.”
He certainly did that as Arsenal took all three points against a Cardiff side who played their best football after the interval. Fraizer Campbell brought the best out of Szczesny before Peter Whittingham was twice denied by the Pole.
“We knew that Man United and Man City dropped points here recently and that it would send a very strong message to our rivals if we won,” said Szczesny.
“I thought we did a very professional job. We did really well for 90 minutes and took every chance we created.”
Wenger said of Ramsey: “I have to treat him like the other players and give him a breather when he needs it. I want him to continue to develop, but he’s so young, you think why should he stop his development now? Let’s not forget that a year ago everyone questioned him. That shows he deserves credit for that — he has turned a corner and he can continue to improve.”
Cardiff boss Malky Mackay was happy with his side’s effort but must now turn his attention to this week’s games against Stoke and Crystal Palace.
He said; “It will be about fresh legs and making sure people are right and ready. They’re two tough away games and getting anything away in this league is not easy. However, we go into them, fresh on the back of playing the champions and probably the best team in Britain, within seven days.”
CARDIFF (4-1-4-1): Marshall 6; Theophile-Catherine 6, Caulker 6, Turner 6, Taylor 6 (Cornelius 86,5); Medel 6; Cowie 6, Mutch 6, Whittingham 6, Bo-Kyung 6 (Noone 75,5); Campbell 6 (Odewingie 64,5)
ARSENAL (4-1-3-1-1): Szczesny 7; Sagna 7, Mertesacker 7, Koscielny 7, Gibbs 7; Arteta 7, Wilshere 7 (Monreal 80,5), Ramsey 8, Cazorla 7 (Flamini 76,6); Ozil 7 (Walcott 90,5); Giroud 6
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).
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