LET’S END NOVEMBER ON A HIGH

November has been good to the gooners; wins over Southampton, Marseille, Dortmund have been fantastic. Apart from the loss to Manchester United, everyone has been superb. We began November top of the table and even a loss to Cardiff won’t take us down from our exalted position.

I was impressed with the attitude of the Cardiff players in their last game against Manchester United especially the fact that they refused to lose. Not too many teams would be down against United and rally back like the men from South Wales did. It was impressive.

 

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One feature that was seen on the day was their determination, hard work and grit peculiar with British sides and you would not argue that Cardiff are a pure British side. In the side that started against United, only three of them (Theophile Catherine, Gary Medel and Peter Odemwingie) were not British so I am not surprised in the manner in which they play.

CARDIFF’S STRENGTHS

THREAT FROM SET PIECES

In the game against the Champions, the Welsh team were always looking for set pieces around their opponent’s box; reminded me of the Stoke team some seasons back that played to have a throw in because they had a certain Rory Delap. They have scored lots of goals from set crosses into the box this season. Mertesacker, Koscienly and Szczesny must be very careful. Sagna and Gibbs must also try and block the source of the crosses. Theophile-Catherine, Whittingham, Andrew Taylor must not be left free to put those crosses into the box.

THE NEVER GIVE UP ATTITUDE

This attitude was evident in their games against the Manchester Twins. Against City, they were not awed by their super star opponents, same with United. Their second half performance this season has been quite good; of all the 11 goals they have scored, 8 of them have been in the second half. What must the gooners do to stop this attitude? Finish them off early. Arsenal must quench every spirit or belief that might have and show them that where the Manchester twins failed, the gooners would shine.

KEY PLAYERS

Gooner of Steel took a look at the Key players in the side and two players stand out for me

PETER WHITTINGHAM

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Once touted for great things, the English man has been a constant feature for Mackay’s men and he has been there for a reason, he has been one of their best players this season. Capable of playing anywhere across the midfield four in their 4-1-4-1 formation, the 29 year old must be looked at. In the United game, he had 95% pass completion, 3 out of 6 successful crosses, and 9 out of 9 successful long balls into the box, made 55 complete passes, 3 key passes and 2 interceptions. A player with this kind of impressive stat in a single game must be dangerous.

GARY MEDEL

The Chilean was brought from Sevilla for a Club record fee and has not disappointed. He plays that pivot role between the defence and the 4 midfielders in the 4-1-4-1 formation and he does it well. He doesn’t go forward often, but gives a lot of long balls into the box. In the game against United, he gave 6 out of 10 successful long balls into the box, he also does a lot of running, bullies opponents on the pitch and reminds me a lot of AC Milan legend, Gennaro Gattuso. After facing the strength of David Wanyama last week, we are back with another excellent defensive midfielder in Gary Medel. Ozil, Ramsey, Wilshere and co have to play at their best.

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HOW THE GOONERS WOULD CAPITALIZE

Best Midfield in the land: not to many teams in Europe can boost of so much strength in midfield as the gooners. With Flamini or Arteta acting as anchor men, the other midfielders have the freedom to roam about and do the damage. Gary Medel and his friends are in for a rough ride.

At least we are not facing a rugby team: on countless occasions the gooners have had to deal with teams that bully, very physical and commit a lot of fouls. Luckily for Arsenal, Cardiff is not like those teams. The Welsh team has made the fewest fouls this season in the league; they are not a rough side but are disciplined and don’t give away so much space. Good for the gooners that we would not play a team that don’t kick the leg but the ball, a team that also wants to play good football. Arsenal could capitalize on that.

THE RETURN OF RAMSEY

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Aaron Ramsey would be returning to the club he took his first steps as a footballer. There is no doubt that it would be emotional for him. Even though he played against them in the FA cup of 2009, it would be the first in the premier league. He left them as a teenager with huge potential but is returning as a star that is even destined for greater things.

Arsene has an almost full squad and would have Flamini, Arteta, Carzola, Wilshere, Ramsey, Rosicky, Ozil, Walcott and Gnabry competing for five midfield places. A good headache for Wenger.

If we are to be champions come next May, these are the kind of games that Arsene and his boys should not take for granted. I am in the opinion that the league is not won in Stamford Bridge or Old Traofford or Anfield but in the stadia of the so- called lesser teams.

This would be the first away game since Arsenal’s 15 games unbeaten away run was ended.so maybe, this could be the start of another record setting run #COYG

Please remember to say your prayers for Pat Rice wherever you are

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