Cardiff City have beaten Manchester City and taken points from Everton and Manchester United at Cardiff City Stadium so far this season, so one would have to forgive a supporter some trepidation upon kickoff today, but in the end, Arsenal's pretty darn good away form continued as they moved past the hosts by a pretty fair final score of 3-0 thanks to Aaron Ramsey, Mathieu Flamini, and pair of flawless Mesut Özil assists.
From kickoff, Arsenal were motoring. It only took about 80 seconds for Jack Wilshere to try to replicate his goal from the Marseille match, coming onto his left foot and curling an effort that crashed back off the upper 90 of David Marshall's goal. Arsenal kept applying pressure from that moment forward, and should probably have been 1-0 up in a pretty weird way about 20 minutes later.
Aaron Ramsey tried to find Olivier Giroud running on the last defender's shoulder, and the Frenchman was onside until Özil faintly flicked the pass onwards. That touch put the Frenchman offside, and Giroud sensed that and gave up on the play until he saw that the linesman was unaware of the extra touch. By then it was too late, though, and Steven Caulker and Ben Turner recovered to block Giroud's attempted reparation. It was the kind of fundamental booboo that everyone will forget with the win, but at the time, Giroud could only look suitably redfaced as Arsene Wenger yelled "Oli! What are you doing!" from the touchline.
It wouldn't take too much longer for the Gunners to find the twine, however. As they once more built from the back, Giroud made a run from deep that pulled the Cardiff defense apart enough for, who else, Ramsey to run into space. It was the kind of run that Özil earns his pay by spotting, and he did, and his pass met Ramsey's head, the Welshman turning it home past a helpless Marshall before calmly turning and walking back towards his own half. His refusal to celebrate in front of the club that raised him was such that, to be honest, I wasn't even sure that he'd scored at first. The home fans sounded their appreciation in return, applauding the Welsh captain.
Rambo didn't slow down much from then on, flashing another shot over the bar before halftime and starting the second frame by cutting in first from one byline and then from the other, trying to set up Giroud for tap-ins. Cardiff, though, were not going away, and Frazier Campbell nearly headed home a Kim Bo-Kyung flick, beasting Kieran Gibbs; Wojciech Szczesny wasn't having that, though.
Subs starting coming in for both sides, Mathieu Flamini and Nacho Monreal joining the fun for Santi Cazorla (who'd blasted a decent chance over the bar) and Jack Wilshere. Arsenal slowly regained control of the match a bit, and when Özil found some time and space to spot a yellow flash out of the corner of his eye, his through ball was unerring. Of all people, Flamini was the streak, and crushed his chance with beaucoup de moutard, pretty much wrapping up the three points for the Gunners.
Theo Walcott came on in injury time for the German playmaker, and made the most of his time; free up the right, he looked to shoot for a bit before squaring for Ramsey, and the deceptively difficult chance flew into the roof of the net, no celebration forthcoming once again, and the match was truly buried. As the teams left the pitch, both sets of fans chanted Ramsey's name, testament to how eminently loveable he is.
Couple of random facts from today:
Ramsey now has more league goals from open play than does Tottenham Hotspur. He has 13 goals in all competitions.
Also, as Aidan pointed out on twitter after the match, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Arteta combined for 9 tackles, 11 interceptions and 25 clearances today. Arteta, in particular, was everywhere, ripping.
Next up for the Arsenal is a rare Wednesday league fixture, home to Hull City.