Cesc on Trains, RvP, Fulham On An Action Packed Saturday

Fulham this afternoon in the late kick-off. Gee, thanks Disney. The visit to Craven Cottage follows last season’s debacle and is in a sense, a litmus test for progress this season. All of the players have acknowledged that the title is to be won in games such as these with the mini-league between the top four clubs of lesser significance. That may be so but points earned against close rivals count when closing or extending gaps.

Robin van Persie re-iterated that when he observed the impact in previous seasons:

If you look last year, the way Manchester United became champions was against the smaller teams. They won against all the teams from 19 to 10. That is why they became champions. So it is very important to win these games.

At which point van Persie picked himself up off the floor have slightly exaggerated his final sentence. Hopefully neither that injury or his real one will preclude a full and goalscoring involvement at Craven Cottage.

The forward line was the subject of some observations yesterday, the follow-on from the Triad’s outburst. Arsene, it seems, is not willing to waste a cent on Marouane Chamakh. You wonder if Chamakh is going the same way of those such as Cana before him. Cana is constantly linked with the club but that has never been seriously followed up since he was turned away by UK Immigration at 16 en route to a two-week trial at Arsenal, his background from a war torn nation counting against him at the time.

He is content with van Persie, Eduardo and Bendtner leading the line. A serious injury might change that opinion. Wenger‘s rationale for not spending his money was re-emphasised – he believes he has enough quality in the squad already. With only one long-term injury to deal with, he is content that Nasri, Walcott and Fabianski will give the depth he needs over the coming months. Or in Wenger’s own words, “We have an unbelievable squad“. Time will tell on that one.

As Cesc observed in an interview with Don Balon, the only time a season can be assessed is when the last ball has been kicked. The tone of the interview is set in the opening paragraph which indicates that the coming summer will be the one when he leaves London. In the opinion of the magazine, the Spanish equivalent of FourFourTwo. Cesc talks about his own future, of course:

For now I see it, I have a contract and contracts are to try to meet them. The truth is that right now I do not think beyond what may be this year.

He was not going to be let off that quickly or easily. Questioned about whether he had missed the ‘train’ – joining Barca or Madrid in this instance – the captain displayed a media-savvy instinct:

No, I have missed trains and have always taken those that I thought were better for me

The issue of media speculation is given short shrift:

I attempt to isolate myself from this speculation, surround myself with my family, my friends and my girlfriend, and the end of the day try to keep a low profile. Suffice to say I’m the boss and the only one who really knows what is happening.

Just to be clear on that issue, he is (a) focussed on the current season, (b) hoping to be playing the Bernabeu next May in the Champions League final and (c) on the subject of returning to Spain,We’ll see what happens in the future, which right now is to win something with Arsenal“. So expect a slew of how Cesc has refused to commit himself stories appearing over coming weeks.

Today’s fixture sees the return of Andrei Arshavin following his injury at Old Trafford, exacerbated on international duty. It strengthens the attacking prowess in what you would expect to be a pretty much unchanged team from the encounter with Wigan last Saturday.

Despite the clean sheet in midweek, it would be a tough decision on Mannone to be replaced in goal by Szczeny. At the moment, it is a matter of Arsene’s personal judgement on the two but to make that change would fly in the face of his previous policy of having his first team goalkeeper entirely separate from the custodian in both domestic cups. Roy Hodgson was effusive in his praise for Arsene, a manner of delivery missing in the media:

Arsene’s career has been second to none. It has been quite incredible the job he has done at Arsenal, at Monaco and at Nagoya Grampus Eight. He’s a first-class manager and coach and all the praise that has been showered his way is praise that, for me, has been fully deserved.

Whilst Hodgson has not achieved as many honours in the English game, it is interesting to see the change in the media’s perception. Unsuccessful in his spell at Blackburn, he is rightly praised for moving Fulham up the table last season and into Europe. Given the work he has carried out abroad, it is surprising that Hodgson does not get more recognition for this. However, Fulham appear to be suffering a little through European exertions and Arsenal must be ready to take advantage of this.

The team I would expect Arsene to put out today is:

Mannone; Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy; Song, Fabregas, Diaby; Arshavin, van Persie, Eboue

That assumes everyone is fit. If Arshavin or van Persie is not quite ready, Eduardo will probably be the one to slot in with Bendtner remaining on the bench. Arsene will look for a solid start to the game perhaps before unleashing Rosicky on the tiring hosts. Which means the Czech will probably start in place of Diaby!

Three points is the required result, not least because it is hard to see any of the teams above us dropping any points this afternoon. Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.

271 thoughts on “Cesc on Trains, RvP, Fulham On An Action Packed Saturday

  1. Poliziano says:

    I’ve never seen any evidence that Wenger has invented an injury or illness for one of his players.

  2. Arsenal the great says:

    Arsene knows better than all of you and until Almunia recovers from his now permanent chest virus, he’s toast.

  3. Arsenal the great says:

    Next game, CL at home against Olympiacos, Manonne in goal once more. Watch this space.

    Arsene knows better what is good for the club. Next summer, frustrated Almunia will be off.

    Manonne won us 3 points; Almunia would have lost us this game. Fact.

  4. Joe says:

    Ole,

    Your buddy that said the victory was papering over the cracks has a point. This is only the 2nd clean sheet we’ve kept so far – and from my viewpoint – we got out of jail big time today and can count ourselves lucky thanks to Mannone. If Zamore was any good we’d have been beaten.

    Our discipline is lacking and the balance in the team is still not right.

    Still though – we’re only 6 points adrift with a game in hand – so there’s time to gel yet. We’re a vast improvement from last season.

    Shotta –

    Admitting Eboue cannot finnish is pretty big of you. You could also mention his diving at UTD during the whole Eduardo incident, or his booking during the Celtic match for advertising his Jesus T-Shirt and then of course there was the attempted Maradona impersonation in his hand-ball against Wigan. Yeah – I’d much prefer to keep Eboue especially when we have players like Walcott / Vela / Wiltshire on the bench. Y’know players who can actually deliver an end product while not making utter phucking cocks of themselves in the process. If he’s so valuable – how come he was up for sale during the summer? Why didn’t anyone buy him? And most importantly – how come he hasn’t been offered a new contract? I don’t in any way condone the abuse the poor lad shipped last season – but in many cases he brings it on himself – albeit in an unintentional type of way most of the time. While I do acknowledge that he is versatile and puts himself in key positions – to suggest that he’s one of our best players is just not true and his presence in this team prevents other, more talented players – who have yet to get a chance from coming through. But maybe Im just another one of those “self righteous pricks” like Goodplaya – who can provide a substantiated opinion eh?

    I think if he’s not sold in January – he’ll be released with Sendy during the summer on a freebe as a kinda thank you for services rendered.

  5. Gunner From Nigeria says:

    A difficult win. I pray we continue our good run at least it could help my recovery health wise.
    Those complaining about the match look no further than what happened at the DW Stadium.

  6. Arsenal the great says:

    Arsene just spoke and said that Almunia will not be fit for Tuesday and that he gives Manonne 10 out of 10.

    Almunia will not be fit for Tuesday due to persistent ‘chest virus’ a la Jens Lehmann’s ‘wrist injury’?

    History is repeating itself.

  7. Poliziano says:

    Tell me, Howard, did you find a couple of stud-muffins at the cottage to pack your words back whence they came?

  8. Finsburyparker says:

    Erm, Joe ever heard of the term ‘Squad Player’.

    Did you ever see a guy called Grimandi play for AFC?
    Did you ever notice what he did for the team/squad over the course of a season?
    No?

    Didn’t think so.

    Sold in January?

    Fuck me, between you, the Great One, & Nostradamus…well, it’s a close call.

  9. Finsburyparker says:

    A good victory.
    A great team effort.

    Have a good wknd all.

  10. Ben says:

    Fuck the others, come on boys, if we get behind the team the rewards are obvious, too often slating the team is the easy way out, get behind the team and the benefits are there

  11. team spirit says:

    @ Joe

    Eboue is ine of our best players and you must be the only one no aware that florentina were in for him but negotioations did not come good… much the same way we were in for charmakh bit the deald didnt go through does not imply hi is a bad player!

    He will not be sold in january if only because he will be in the nations cup among other reasons

  12. Arse Baggins says:

    I have to say that Vito was awesome today. His two reflex saves to deny Fulham were awesome and a sign of a very good goalkeeper.

    Saying that, I also like Almunia and he has served us well. On form, he is also a good keeper. He doesn’t suddenly become a bad one because of a few games.

    We should really be celebrating the fact that we have 4 excellent keepers and the competition that it brings.

    Nearly home now! I was at Craven Cottage in the ‘neutral’ end (it was full of Arsenal fans!) and it was a cracking atmosphere.

    On the coach, so goodnight!

  13. shotta-gunna says:

    Slating Eboue…eh Joe. Nothing new from you…you have been doing it here and Le Grove forever.
    Poor feller….would play 4 defenders and 6 small, diddly forwards if you could, and then complain that we can’t defend.
    Eboue can’t respond to you but I will on his behalf; you are a total football dunce.

  14. Bragging Rights Ltd says:

    My team has just broken the ACLF top 10, which clearly makes me a superior armchair manager. The league doesn’t lie.

    I say Eboue’s going to be massive for us this season, and will start against Olympiacos this week. He will also sign a new contract very soon, even though he still has two years to run on his current “long-term” deal, signed in 07.

    “Poor feller….would play 4 defenders and 6 small, diddly forwards if you could, and then complain that we can’t defend.”

    Exactly!

  15. team spirit says:

    Arse B… well done to the away fans… good to hear from one that was actually at the game

  16. Arsenal the great says:

    Arse Baggins

    We started conceding lot of goals when Almunia became the No.1. We did very well during the CL games in 2006 when Jens was in the sticks.

    Jens Lehmann performed badly in two games in 2007/8 season but we never lost those games. Ever since we have been conceding lots of goals every season mainly because of average Almunia.

    I forsee him being kept out because of his current ‘chest virus’ a la Lehmann’s wrist injury.

  17. tony says:

    When was the last time you heard Wenger say Almunia had a 10/10 game? Dont be surprised if Almunia is out of the club in the january window.Chest infection yeah right

  18. shotta-gunna says:

    Delayed broadcast of Wigan vs Chelsea is now on Setanta – USA. Can’t believe this is the same Wigan of last week. They match up very well with Chelsea.

  19. Dupsffokcuf says:

    Arsenal the great, change the record ffs.

  20. shotta-gunna says:

    One thing about the doomers this year – exposed and harried, they have changed their identity and post under different aliases. Their problem is even if you dress up a pig with lipstick you can’t hide their snout.
    Oh Howard and your ilk, you are still whingeing , moaning pigs.

  21. shotta-gunna says:

    Ole Gunner – your prediction that Chelsea will have a bright start, like last year, before the wheels come off this ageing team may be coming true. Wigan played them off the park, the 1st half at least.

  22. Dupsffokcuf says:

    It always amazes me how some fans can watch a player in a couple of games and decide whether the player is great or crap.

    Mannone was very good today but he is a young keeper and they have good and bad games.

    We won a very hard fought game 1-0. OK we did not play at our best but we got the result. Credit must go to Fulham for a good game.

  23. Gunner4Ever says:

    LOL Shotta…you’re exactly right 🙂

  24. Dupsffokcuf says:

    Shotta; it is not difficult to pick out the normal idiots even with their changed ID.

  25. Gunner4Ever says:

    Seeing Clichy & Vermaelen congratulating Vito on his performance at the end of the game was great.

  26. Passenal says:

    Looks like Chelsea’s old legs cannot take a tough CC game followed by a tough away game in the PL.

  27. shotta-gunna says:

    Passenal – and they can’t sign any young legs. They are a disaster w3aiting to happen.

  28. shotta-gunna says:

    Plus their academy is in shambles. (Tony Attwood of Untold Arsenal has done a piece recently exposing the rot at KGB-Fulham.)

  29. Arsenal the great says:

    Chavski can’t win the league. The old legs can’t withstand the pressure of 38 games. The problem with Chavski is that they play the same set up match after match in all competitions.

    Shitto, G4E

    Whether you like it or not, Almunia is off Arsene’s radar now. To Arsene, he’s still left months away from fully recovering from his chest infection. Next summer, I suspect in Spain.

    He’s one of the reasons we’ve suffered, seeing two young keepers make a claim only rejuvenate the Arsenal and keeps the average performers outside the door.

  30. Passenal says:

    When Liverpool beat a crap Hull team 6 – 1 they are the best thing since sliced bread, but when we beat Everton by the same scoreline MOTD couldn’t find enough excuses for why we were entitled to no credit!

  31. DukeGoonem says:

    Last i heard Howard got beaten up at that demo in Bradford.

  32. Poliziano says:

    DENILSON DENEEEEEEEEEEELSON
    I want Denilson and I want him now!

  33. Dupsffokcuf says:

    Passenal; Liverpool were at home as well so we had the better scoreline.

  34. DukeGoonem says:

    Put that in a letter and send it to him then Poliziano.

  35. Passenal says:

    Poliziano, are you dropping Barazite?

  36. Dupsffokcuf says:

    Denilson’s injury is not real. Arsene will never play Denilson again, he will be off to Spain soon.

    I know this because Arsenal The Great says so.

  37. perrygroves says:

    Dropping something, judging by the ‘stud-muffins’ earlier.

  38. Arsenal the great says:

    Our next nine games are winnable and once we do that we’ll be in contention. The title is still open.

    Arsene should drop Almunia when we play the Spuds. Almunia’s record against the yids is also another bad one.

  39. DukeGoonem says:

    Did anyone notice Arshavins barnet. Apparantly his misses was the guilty party, she got her own back for the sexist comments he made a little while ago, quite how she managed to lure him into the kitchen god only knows.

  40. Dupsffokcuf says:

    Another record must have been broken today.
    We committed 11 fouls and got zero yellow cards.

  41. shotta-gunna says:

    G4E….did you notice the pig-speak?

  42. Dupsffokcuf says:

    Duke; I think she must have lured VP in as well. Either than or he fell under the mower.

  43. raymondo says:

    If Almunia was in great form before his er, chest infection!!!! i maybe could understand recalling him but he wasnt his form this season has been awful.And if he didnt have a er,chest infection he deserved to be dropped.Now Vito has stepped up to the plate.I want him to keep his place.Dont bring back Almunia

    Also if it hadnt been Vito performing miracles the MOTM would have been Gallas who was brilliant

    Well done the fans as well what a great day down by the river

  44. shotta-gunna says:

    Actually Howard and piglets speaking.

  45. Poliziano says:

    I want Denilson to be able to play.

    I want Barazite to be chosen to play. After Barazite’s appearance in the Carling Cup, I took him out for an espresso. Well, I had an espresso, he had a mocha. It was great to go out with him in public, even though we went to a quiet place.

  46. Poliziano says:

    When I say a quiet place, I don’t mean a cottage. I’ll leave that to Howard. I guess they’re not particularly quiet anyway, with all that packing going on.

  47. Mean Lean says:

    FFS! Perhaps Fulham are a better side than Stoke!

    Anyone that is watching MOTD will know what I am ranting about.

  48. Passenal says:

    I know ML – they can’t bring themselves to give us any credit and just cannot comment on our game without some dig. I’m amazed they can say anything at all with their tongues wedged so firmly up SAF’s A-hole.

  49. Poliziano says:

    That’s the benefit of not talking with one’s mouth.

  50. Passenal says:

    True dat Poliziano – given the crap that comes out, it can’t possibly come from that end of their bodies!

  51. Mean Lean says:

    It is only a matter of time before they start slowly changing the way the speak about us because they will not be able to avoid it. wan*ers!

    There are so many reasons why I want us to win the league this year.

  52. Dupsffokcuf says:

    MOTD is garbage now (has been for a long time) and not even worth watching.

  53. DukeGoonem says:

    Does anyone know if any of our CL games will be on ITV1 this season??? unlike last season when we reached two semi’s yet somebloodyhow we were only on ShITV1 once! and we bloody turned off after 10 mins.

  54. Poliziano says:

    The real miracle is that SAF manages to speak.

  55. Ole Gunner says:

    “The title is still open”

    Are you real?

    Of course the title is still open. Don’t forget we have a game in hand.

    Doomers are very creatibe. you have to hand it to them. They can turn the fact that our third/fourth choice keeper played a blinder into proof our squad is weak instead of the obvious conclusion that we have a very strong squad.

    It’s time for fuckers to stop disrespecting this Arsenal squad. They’re young but they’re not crap.

    And when Danny murphy comes to the Emirates he’ll get kicked off the park.

  56. Dupsffokcuf says:

    Duke; maybe the only reason we were on ITV 1 was because we were playing the mancs.

  57. Passenal says:

    Judging by the way ITV1 created that unnecessary crap around Eduardo, I would rather we are never featured on that channel again.

  58. Dupsffokcuf says:

    All TV channels seem as bad to me.

  59. DukeGoonem says:

    True Dups,

    But i cant get to the grove at the mo, so ITV hd is as close as i will get for now.

  60. K-ran says:

    We won by playing badly.Thats how titles are won.That the Manure blueprint.
    At the end of the day football is all about winning not playing well and losing like in Manchester x2 .I am fed up with people praising up for the football we play.I want them to praise us for the titles we win

    Where was Eduardo today? not injured i hope

  61. Ole Gunner says:

    I prefer for us to play well and win. Next best, play badly and win. However, most times you play badly, you lose so that’s not a good choice.

    I want us to play well, and more times than not we’ll win.

    When we dont manage to play well, winning is a fantastic compensation.

  62. Arshenal says:

    good selection by wenger resting eduardo. he will be fresh to crush in the CL. Today was not his kind of game. fulham are a great side and battled 100%/

    thought bendtner was excellent, really fought high up the pitch. Although almunia must come back (he hasn’t really put a foot wrong) i think mannone has gone above fabianski who has been terrible really when he has played. vermaelaen and gallas were incredible today.

  63. abid says:

    I don’t know if today was all down to playing badly. Fulham were brilliant. In all honesty, I haven’t seen many of their games but I never knew that they could play the way they did yesterday.

    I missed the first half but we had some really neat chances to finish off the game in the second. It’s a pity that Nicklas and Eboue couldn’t finish. We failed to really get into our game for the 3rd time running and while this isn’t necessarily bad, we need to start doing better with our possession and finishing. Fulham was a great test and we passed it. That’s what we asked for and thats what our boys gave us.

    Mannone was a brilliant surprise. The celebrations with everyone running up to him were really cute, especially the bit where RvP tried to lift him up but couldnt! haha.

    I really can’t wait for Nasri, Walcott and Vela to come back. It would be fantastic to have some extra options.

  64. abid says:

    @ Joe – that was pretty silly. Eboue has worked so hard for us this season. He’s also brilliant in that he gives Arsene many more tactical options. If Eboue learnt how to finish consistently, he’d be even better for us. He just needs that bit of confidence in front of goal and I really hope he gets it.

    I wouldn’t bother usually, but I don’t understand why we slag off players after a victory. After a defeat, its annoying as well but I can understand with the emotions and excitment and all that. But we won today. Eboue had a good match. So, what’s the problem?

  65. Dave says:

    Arshenal@3.16

    “Almunia must come back he hasnt really put a foot wrong”

    So tell me who was at fault for Pompey’s goal?Who gave away the stupid penalty at OT?Who gave away he first goal at City?Hasnt put a foot wrong.You having a laugh?

    Almunia has been poor this season forget last season we are talking here and now.not history
    Vito deserves to be number one on merit.End of.

  66. 4th place is ours City says:

    The spirit of GG returned at the cottage yesterday.

    1-0 to the Arsenal 1-0 to the Arsenal

    Vito the family is proud of you:(

  67. Passenal says:

    People have very short memories it seems. Fabianski made a few errors of judgement in the FA cup game against Chelsea, but he has also given many solid and a few outstanding performances when called upon. Almunia may not have started the season in the best of form, but he has a good track record and he will be back as soon as he regains his fiitness and form because the same people praising Mannone for a great display today, will be slaughtering him at the first sign of weakness. I’m happy that we have such depth in the GK position so that the deputies can do a job when called upon, but let’s not get carried away here.

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