Fulham Preview: Three Points, Nothing Less

Fulham arrive at The Emirates today level on points with their hosts and with a marginally inferior goal difference, which having conceded sixteen goals underlines the transformation in Arsenal this season. To underline that point, the club from the banks of The Thames have scored more goals on their travels than Arsenal have at home and that despite a six-goal feast against Southampton. Add into the mix the traditional wretched Autumnal form and Fulham probably fancy their chances of repeating their point from the corresponding fixture last season.

For Arsenal, a win is imperative. That transcends any need for a good performance, indeed a win by a big enough margin will be reported as a good outing even if overall it isn’t. And into this scenario enters a manager openly admitting that his players are not fresh or confident. The latter is hardly surprising with a run of one win in five games – we’ll ignore the Reading victory since it contained few of the usual XI – the players have not established an aura of invincibility. Arguably they are there for the taking should any team so decide. Which is why the point in Gelsenkirchen was welcomed, not just because it was a good result but it could have been more. Perhaps that will help imbue more confidence than the dropping of a two-goal lead.

Arsène identified two of the players suffering the most; Lukas Podolski and Thomas Vermaelen. According to a German journalist earlier this week, Podolski is unhappy with his role in the side. No-one could provide any such claims regarding the national team which is surprising given he plays in the same position there thus you have to put this down to journalistic licence being taken. Wenger is more concerned with his overall contribution, comparing the German to Robert Pires as if to underline the role he will use Podolski in,

Perhaps culture shock is the reason for a level of stagnation in performance but surely it will be as much to do with the overall drop in form. Those two may be locked into the same cycle, one where the two drag each other down in a spiral which is hard to break free from. Certainly if reports of playing with an ankle injury are true, this will not have helped. Overall though, I think Podolski has lived up to expectations and with the suggestion of more to come, will be a great personal success at the club.

Vermaelen though is deeper quandary. The Belgian was sparkling in his first season, prone to the odd mistake but consistent in his performance. Since his return from injury, not quite so to the extent where he has been culpable in the conceding of goals. Against Schalke, the equaliser came from an area of the penalty area that you would expect your full back to be aware of, for example. Equally though, he might have been expecting more cover from midfield as well; the left back position has become something of a poisoned chalice in Kieran Gibbs absence.

Wenger noted that his captain is intensifying expectations of himself with wearing the armband. If that continues, you would question his appointment to the role. Leadership brings responsibility and you want someone in that role who feels that, but not to the extent that the captaincy becomes a burden, a denigrating factor in their own form. Of course, if Arsenal were winning such matters would be overlooked but everything at the club is subjected to microscopic examination as the team are falling short once more.

They will miss Jack Wilshere this afternoon and we’ll see more from him next week as his premature encapsulation in the England squad brings back into the spotlight the weight of expectation. He trod a path dangerously close to calling this crop of youngsters at international level a Golden Generation when he noted that they were all natural ball players. That was ruined when he drew Tom Cleverley into the conversation. He’ll learn.

As it is, his absence may result in a return to the starting line-up for either Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Aaron Ramsey. I think the Welsh international is the more likely of the two, returning to his favoured – and more effective – role in the side. Other than that, I do not see any particular justification for changing the team for today’s clash. Szczesny played yesterday against West Ham but that might see him win a place on the bench, an inspiration for Vito Mannone to play the game of his life and keep the Pole waiting a little longer for his return to action. That would not do either any harm, to be honest.

I would expect the line-up to be:

Mannone; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Ramsey, Cazorla, Arteta; Walcott, Giroud, Podolski

The end product for today has to be a win. The performance, those will improve as results take an upward turn and personally, I would rather the team played badly and won than the reverse.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.

544 thoughts on “Fulham Preview: Three Points, Nothing Less

  1. your assuming..
    i dont hate wenger..
    i just think he can be stubborn..but everyone knows that..

    great managers are usually stubborn..

  2. @JonJon at 9:39 pm

    This just a hunch, only an opinion. I think Mr. Arsenal is a rather bitter man. I think the alcohol abuse has taken it’s toll on his neurones.

  3. dups.
    i didnt read it from robson..
    whenever i see anything with robsons name on it i tend not to read it, the only reason i know robson said something is because everyone keeps banging on about it on here

    apparently though nobody saw the adams interview..

  4. a bitter man?
    wtf’s he got to be bitter about
    a statue outside the stadium?
    yeah he must be well peeved..

  5. I don’t know, the everlasting moaning has made me take things in stride even more. I have a funny feeling that this team is going to shut people up, in the near future. I don’t know but I saw some really positive signs today.

    take it away, JJ…

  6. Well no one looks forward to your comments let’s be honest georgyaki what with them being so fukin boring.

  7. Dearie me, it is coming to something when people turn up to football matches looking for ‘evidence’. First and foremost that was a fantastic game of football today, exactly why I go to games. Wins will come. This season is very strange. Certain teams are having it all their own way at the moment, but top to bottom every team is shipping shed loads of goals.

    Arsenal

  8. @JonJon at 9:47 pm

    Again my humble opinion. I think he wants some kind of role, perhaps like Bould’s. Perhaps to be seen a saviour. He has increasingly been referring to Wenger a ‘physiologist’. I think he is taking a disguised swipe at Wenger by not acknowledging is track record as a manger…Remember, I’m speculating on the basis of ‘weak’ evidence..

  9. paul
    it may shut us up..
    it may finish forth, but thats not enough anymore
    it may finish 4th and win a cup..brilliant, everyone ssshhhhh..

    but it dont matter, because we’ll sell em at the end of it

    and then were back to saying, this team will gell and come good..
    and we’ll find a new hero..

    and we’ll sell him..

  10. hes been bitter for years though dups, apparently..
    so it couldnt have been the assistants job because that only became available recently..

  11. I like Georgaki and his posts.
    He is bitter because he want Arsene’s job .But him being a shit manager rather rules that out.

  12. 27 games to go…plus cup games. That to me is a such a great prospect. This season will see the making of some great players at Arsenal.

  13. @disillusioned dukey at 9:50 pm

    You remember my comment about the Schalke game? I’m impressed. Yes. It’s the first time since the George Graham days that I found watching my team boring. I was disappointed but not ‘dissillusioned’.

  14. JJ, this season will not go down as you see it now. Some strange things are going to happen.
    As for our team, the players are much better than they are showing now. There was some really good stuff today, once we put it all together (soon, I think), the league is going to be in for a surprise

    Lotto numbers?

  15. anyway,
    at least we are all clearing the cobwebs,
    better than sat around feeling sorry for ourselves..
    and lets be honest, if anyone was going to say it, it was likely to be me.. so dont all stand there like ive walked into your house on xmas day and pissed on your xmas tree..

  16. now i could agree to that, george
    about him being bitter for wanting arsenes job, theres probably more truth in that..

  17. @pedantic george aka Blackburngeorge at 9:57 pm

    Many thanks my friend. I was going to mention his poor managerial record but I was distracted by Giroud’s excellent second goal…

  18. Certainly not boring today. Pal of mine commented during the game on Errol’s great ability in the air and his lack of ability with his feet. Just then our swashbuckling hero launched into a fantastic run with the ball at his feet, beating three players and pulled off a stunning shot just wide of the post.

    Oh and I must say, Theo must learn to pass to players in the box. Perhaps look up before he shoots. Just a minor point and not a complaint, you understand.

    Kos pulled off some fantastic tackles today. Good man. As did Aaron Ramsey. Good man. The latter all the better because Billy Bunter the referee carded him because he had pulled out a card for Siddy and then realised he had already carded him and would have to send him off. So rather than waste the card he did Aaron instead because he was the nearest player.

  19. @Frank at 10:08 pm

    ‘And I hope you’re feeling better’ (Santana, Abraxas 1972). So you do seem rather optimistic. Good. I think I saw enough to spend the rest of the weekend less miserable….

  20. Stats posted by orbinho

    FT Stats Arsenal v Fulham Shots 14-11, On target 6-5, Fouls 11-12, Duels Won 58%-42%, Pass Accuracy 89%-85%, Possession 56%-44%

    The result may not have been what we wanted but the game (for entertainment value) was really good

  21. truth be told, it was a great game of open football,

    we just needed the 3 points and its abit shitty we didnt get em..

  22. truth be told, it was a great game of open football,

    we just needed the 3 points and its abit shitty we didnt get em..

  23. With Giroud getting up to speed and looking dominant in the air, I think AW will settle on something that doesn’t resemble the Arsenal we necessarily know, but will get results over the next few months. A bit like in ’06, ’09 and maybe last season too. We’ll be functional before we’re fun again.

    Would love to see AOC involved in some way – he hasn’t really hit form this season, but I feel we’ve missed someone who can receive the ball in tight spaces AND take players on these past few weeks.

    Gotta say, Bryan Ruiz is a classy player. I remember when he used to stroll through defences in the Dutch league (a bit like Dembele actually) and wondered how he’d do in England. Seems like all he had to do was settle a little deeper here – just like Dembele.

  24. Left back is still a problem position, TV is not much of an improvement. Tentative and sat back too much; there were so many passes back and forth between TV, LK and PM. Could BS do a job there with CJ reinstated at RB? Worth pondering?

  25. A pretty unfortunate result, but signs of improvement compared to previous games.

    It does seem very strange that we’ve gone from very few goals against but few goals for either, to scoring but also conceding.

    Giroux looks to be finding his feet, and the others seem to be starting to find him.

    A balance has to be found, we’ve been through this before the season where we went on a 12 game unbeaten run after losing a few, but there were several more draws in that run than we would have liked.

    Wenger made a comment a few weeks back that gave a hint that something like this was on the way. I don’t recall his exact words, but after quite a few games with few goals he said that we like to attack more than we had been doing, and are therefore also likely to concede, and we should be prepared for a few games like that.

    I think Wenger is busy tinkering. We went from close to not even having a go at goal in the entire match in a few games recently, to scoring 3, and very nearly 4. I’d say that’s a pretty major change?

    There were definitely patches where we looked like our old selves, but there were still signs of the lack of movement and backward passing of recent frustration.

    There were some players who had periods where they struggled (especially some of the bizarre slipping we’re seeing in dangerous places recently), but this game was not the same as the previous disapointments.

    I think there is still a problem at the club. I think people are right to question Wenger, he’s human, he can make mistakes like anyone else, but to lump this game on the same bucket as some of the rubbish we’ve seen recently is wrong IMO.

  26. Apologies George,
    In my defence, theo’s bank account could well be a strawman, I never read his comments.

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