'This is the one, this is the one, this is the one, this is the one, this is the one we waited for......'
-The Stone Roses
Le Professeur Wenger amene ses eleves a visiter le stade de la ville Cardiff. Mon dieu! Sacre bleubirds! Everyone, I suspect even the most diehard, died-in-the wool, blue in tooth and claw Bluebird has a second favourite team, a sneaking admiration for opponents that represent the finer points of the beautiful game, le beu jeu. That team for me is Arsenal.
I've actually stood on the North Bank at Highbury. It was 1975. I was supporting their opponents that day Leeds Utd (the shame of it!). Back then in a catastrophic failure of teenage insight I was seduced by the aesthetic ballectic poise and guile of Billy Bremmner, Norman 'Bites Yer Legs' Hunter and Joe Jordan. Players who if they were playing today might reasonably expect to be picking up 50 quid a game in the Evo-Stik First Division North.
Back then players such as Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil and Cozorla would have been dismissed as luxury players, 'fancy Dans'. Or worse still, foreigners. Not to be trusted.
Today we witnessed a master class from the most creative, inspired, committed, complete midfield quartet it's been my pleasure to witness. An engine room that out-ran and out-thought our boys in a way that no other team visiting the CCS has managed. That it was led by a local boy who we saw grace the Ninian Park turf as a skinny shapeless sixteen year old is a source of pride.
The prodigal son returned and we duly prepared the fatted calf which, shame-faced and apologetic, he thrust back down our sorry necks. And we forgave him.
As the teams were announced, the predictable raucous cheers that met the name of each home player were transformed into typically mocking Pavlovian contempt as the opposition glory boys (aka League Leaders) made their entrance: Szczesny 'Boooh!', Mertesacker 'Boooooh', Wilshere 'Boooooooh' (pause] Ramsey - polite applause - Ozil 'Booooooooooooh'.
With one minute and twenty seconds on the clock Ramsey set up Wilshere who beat Marshall with a delightfully placed shot that hit the underside of the bar and bounced away. The writing was on the wall, the calligraphy perfectly crafted.
It was a busy start from both sides with the home team closing down the opposition and forcing hurried mistakes. A long delay following the nutting of Mertesacker by his own player Sagna gave the Canton Choir the opportunity to taunt the travelling fans with 'You're just a bus stop in Tottenham' before a classy move involving Whitts and T-C saw the livewire Campbell head just past the post.
On 15 minutes we witnessed a bizarre moment when Giroud, clearly offside, waited with the ball at his feet for the linesman to flag. The defence stood like statues waiting in vain for the referee's whistle and with the goal at his mercy Giroud delayed just long enough for Caulker to clear. On the touchline Le Professeur etait apoplectic en rage.
The relief was temporary as Arsenal made the breakthrough on the half hour. Some nifty interplay in midfield saw Ozil deliver a ball into the box for the advancing Ramsey to place a perfectly weighted glancing header past Marshall. 0-1.
Now I've been an occasional critic of my fellow Bluebirds for their frequent lapses into narrow-minded folly but after the initial shock of going behind, a respectful nod gave way to a ripple of applause as the crowd acknowledged the quality of the strike, exacting a bashful 'Ayatollah' from the home-comer as he declined to celebrate.
The travelling Gooners must have been baffled by the tender display of affection from a normally partisan crowd with a fearsome reputation. It was as if in the Battle of Rorke's Drift the South Wales Borderers had looked up and spotted Dai from Hirwaun leading the Zulu charge against the garrison and lowered their rifles in appreciation of some quality spear work.
If we thought that the half time break was going to present an opportunity for the troops to regroup, it took less than a minute of the second half to be disabused of this fancy notion as only a last ditch goal line clearance from Turner prevented the marauding visitors from doubling their lead.
We responded well to the initial onslaught and had something of a purple patch following Campbell's outstanding leap in the box placing a header low to Szczesny's right which the Pole managed to keep out with a save of Banksian brilliance.
However, the battle continued to be won in midfield where Arsenal maintained an easy superiority. Whereas we were short of creativity and lacking in options, retaining sideways possession, they moved with a beguiling pace and flair playing neat one-touch triangles with impudent training ground certainty.
A spate of substitutions from both teams saw Odemwingie and Noone take to the field as Malky tried to freshen things up in attack. Wenger countered by deploying Flamini to provide stability in the centre and close the game down. The Frenchman in a clear breach of Le Gaffer's instructions found himself in an advanced position on 85 minutes, linking with Ozil to lash the ball past Marshall.
With only minutes remaining and following an embarrassingly unconvincing penalty box dive by Odemwingie the ball was cleared downfield where a rampaging Ramsey delivered the final coup de gras to take the applause of cheery Gooners and the respectful Bluebirds. Juste assez. Chwarae Teg.
A 0-3 scoreline may have been a tad unfair on the home team but it was a fair reflection of the superiority of a side still inconceivably written off as serious title contenders by some. It's barely December but I think we've already seen the champions, but (gallic shrug) 'que sais-je?'