April 25, 2014
It looks as though Arsenal's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month has ended. In the last two weeks, we have gotten some key players back, advanced to the FA Cup Final, and climbed back into fourth place in the Premier League.
Coming off the midweek win over West Ham, things were definitely looking up. Aaron Ramsey put in an inspired performance off the bench and showed what Arsenal had been missing for nearly four months. And against Hull City, we were able to add another weapon to our – erm – arsenal.
Mesut Ozil made his first start since Bayern away over a month ago. And combined with Ramsey in the midfield, Arsenal looked a completely different team than the one that fell to Everton a few weeks ago. Both were involved in the first goal as Ozil found Santi Cazorla, who picked out Ramsey just after the half-hour mark. The Welshman finished clinically and it was a huge lift for Arsenal.
Ramsey was also involved in the second and third goals. The first of the two was another fantastic team effort in which Rambo chested down an impressive diagonal pass from Olivier Giroud before Lukas Podolski slammed home his third goal in two games. Poldi made it two consecutive braces a few minutes later when he slotted home a rebound off of a shot by – you guessed it – Aaron Ramsey.
It was a comprehensive win and, perhaps more importantly, a fluent performance by a team that finally seem to have gotten all the cylinders firing. Or as Arsène Wenger explained, "We looked like we had problems to score goals away from home recently. [Ramsey] and Ozil give us a cutting edge in the final third that makes us look more dangerous to score."
The boss later added, "We looked in a few games a bit toothless away from home. To have that back is of course a threat for our opponent and it gives us opportunities to score goals."
For Ramsey, the success on the day was down to Arsenal staying focused and organized. "We were professional in the way we went about things but we got the job done," he said. "We stayed quite tight at the back and we got the job done on the break and made them pay."
Now, some critics out there will scoff at the recent results pointing out where teams like Wigan, West Ham and Hull City sit in English football. But considering some recent results around the league like Sunderland's win over Chelsea and Everton's loss to Palace, you really shouldn't discount any win this league.
And it's certainly hard to discount that Arsenal's return to form coincides with Ramsey's return. His goals and assists are easy to spot, but his tackling has also been excellent this season.
Simply put, Ramsey's presence gives Arsenal's more offensive weapons. As Per Mertesacker noted after the game, "In the second half, we got more possession, we were more dangerous and we've got some decent finishers in our team as well."
Speaking of getting players back, in the feel good story of the week, Abou Diaby completed another step in his comeback process by playing 45 minutes for the U-21s against Chelsea. He looked the player of old in the opening 20 minutes, but his time away from the game showed as he faded toward the end of the half. Could we see Diaby in the first team before the end of the season? Wenger says that the Frenchman is physically ready to play for the first team, but it depends on how he responds to being back in action. He won’t play this weekend, but keep the fingers crossed for the young man.
Hi compatriot Bacary Sagna is pulling for him. The right-back has sung Diaby's praises, pointing out all of the hard work he has put into coming back. "To me he is one of the best in the world [when he is fit]," said Sagna. "When he's at his best he can play as well as Patrick Vieira did and as good as many players did."
TV scheduling as it is, there is no game this weekend. Arsenal play next on Monday at home against a Newcastle team that has been seriously struggling of late. The Magpies have lost five straight, scoring only one goal while conceding 14 in that stretch. Part of that may be down to Alan Pardew's suspension. While he still won't be on the touchline he can now be with the team in the training room as well as watch from the stands. Considering how much he has inspired his side in recent years, we probably shouldn’t write off the effect of his presence.
Kickoff is at 3pm ET so if can, get out to the pub and cheer on the Arsenal with fellow Gooners! And if you can’t, you can always listen live through Arsenal Player. It’s the second-to-last home game this season and with only three league games left, all three points are vital for Arsenal to secure Champions League football next season. Let's keep that streak going!
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