Silenced by the Rams

Posted by Mike Morris

Former Cardiff City player Aaron Ramsey returned to Wales to lead Arsenal to a 3-0 victory that took the Gunners seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

Ramsey found himself the darling of both sets of fans as he produced another top quality display for Arsene Wenger's side. He scored the opening goal with a stunning header in the first half and completed the scoring with a thumping finish in injury time.

There was no doubt that that after 90 minutes Arsenal proved themselves to be a classy side and worthy to be the Premier League leaders, but there were a number of factors that made decent talking points.

- Mangan: Ramsey gets goals, but Szczesny huge

The result was harsh on Cardiff City. The Bluebirds were still in with a chance of getting something out of the game until the 86th minute when Arsenal broke away to score their goal through Mathieu Flamini. The third goal in injury-time was a classic breakaway as Arsenal turned defence into attack.

Cardiff had two good chances, one in either half, both from Fraizer Campbell headers. The first saw Campbell rise unmarked to head wide and the second produced a stunning save from Wojciech Szczesny as Campbell looked certain to score.

Cardiff's second-half display was spirited and again they have shown they are worthy of a place in this division. Arsenal didn't take City lightly and after seeing Manchester City and Manchester United drop points at Cardiff City Stadium the Gunners will be very happy to go home with three points.

The officials made some bizarre decisions during this match. They were not influential on the score, but there were plenty of minor incidents that were missed or ignored as the referee and his assistants got basic decisions wrong. Arsenal could have rightly claimed two corners that were given as goal kicks. The most glaring error came when Olivier Giroud received the ball clearly in an offside position.

The linesman kept his flag down and Giroud, thinking he was offside, stopped playing before realising the ball was still in play. His indecision allowed the Cardiff defenders to get back and block the Frenchman from scoring. If he had just hit it into the net first time the goal would have stood.

The day, though, belonged to Aaron Ramsey. When the teams were announced he was cheered by the home fans. In the second minute he played in Jack Wilshere whose excellent curling effort hit the bar and on 29 minutes Ramsey, near the penalty spot, rose to head past David Marshall to open the scoring.

Ramsey didn't celebrate, he stayed solemn as his team mates congratulated him. The Arsenal fans were obviously celebrating but then a surreal moment: the Cardiff City fans started to applaud Ramsey. The boy that made his debut for Cardiff aged 16 was applauded for his muted reaction to his goal and in one of those rare moments a whole stadium was appreciating something that was happening on the field.

There was another incident where both sets of fans showed their mutual respect for each other. It was revealed last week that former Arsenal player Pat Rice was diagnosed with cancer. The Arsenal fans sang "there's only one Pat Rice" to which the home fans clapped to show their appreciation for the Arsenal legend.

Ramsey's reaction to his second goal in stoppage time was also muted and again he was applauded by Cardiff fans who asked him to mimic their signature action of tapping their heads. Ramsey duly obliged and as the final whistle went the man of the match was applauded by the whole stadium as he acknowledged all parts of the ground.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger acknowledged the Cardiff support. He said: "The reaction of the fans was fantastic. I'd like to see that much more. I have a big respect for that."

Mesut Ozil assisted two of the three goals scored by Arsenal and along with Ramsey, Wilshere and Santi Cazorla the attacking midfield quartet produced quality football that at times left Cardiff chasing shadows.

Cardiff were never expected to beat Arsenal. The real battle to stay in the Premier League comes when the club face the teams they can be expected to take points from. The next two matches are away at Stoke, who are level on points with Cardiff and then Crystal Palace.

The day belonged to Ramsey. He was arguably the Premier League player of the season so far before kick off. By the time the final whistle went he had put the argument beyond doubt.


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