Fulham Preview: 2019 Needs To Start With A Bang

Or Thus Spake Ornstein. There was some evidence that eternal recurrence isn’t as far-fetched a notion as its’ critics would have you believe. Take the case of Ornstein. Another transfer window, another message that we’ve got no money. I’m certain we’ve heard that one before. It’s lunacy to expect the club to announce that we’re loaded; that just begs for the sharks to circle that much more aggressively.

However, it’s not much of a motif for a club which claims to be pushing for a return to the Champions League. The squad needs more than rejuvenating and we don’t have the Champions League income to invest. The longer we are absent from the top table, the harder it will be to return. If Enos doesn’t want to see the value of his investment fall, he needs to rethink his philosophy.

That’s to admit defeat before we’ve begun. The defeat at Anfield was a chastening experience, more so than in previous years. To see experienced defenders play so amateurishly – and that’s harsh on amateurs – shook an optimism about a top four finish from before our eyes. It’s one match against probably the best team in the country so should we be overly concerned?

This afternoon gives us some answers. It’s trite to say the players ‘owe us a performance’ but they need one for themselves, for their own self-belief. It’s been a month – nine matches – since we put in a good, strong performance: Tottenham. Across a range of competitions, we’ve stumbled until falling flat on our faces – or arses, whichever you prefer – at Anfield. If we’re going to progress in any of the competitions, we need to improve dramatically our performance levels and on a consistent basis.

Make no mistake, it’s a tall order for Unai Emery with this squad.

Welcome to the Bus Depot

Fulham are a different proposition to Liverpool. They won’t overwhelm or swarm around the ball; it’s very much a home match where we’ll see a lot of the ball and need to be inventive in our possession. It’s a game which is made for Mesut Ozil and I’m sure his knee will hold up to the rigours of it.

He is just one of a few changes I’d expect. Monreal, Bellerin and probably Koscielny into the starting line-up with Ramsey into midfield? Arsenal are not minded to sell him this winter, preferring to keep the player on the books. No reconciliation, however; he is leaving and Juventus reportedly offered him a deal worth £150k per week. Ivan’s was more generous by all accounts and those numbers certainly support the notion it was unrealistic.

The decision on financial grounds makes sense but less so in a footballing sense. As we transition from Wengerball to Emeryball, we’re crying out for a box-to-box midfielder. Ozil is unreliable and certainly from the outside looking in, being eased out of the club if we can. He, it’s claimed, isn’t leaving in January; next summer is a different story.

I’ve steered the conversation away from the defence quite deliberately because every time you come back to it, you see a back three formation which doesn’t work, principally because Mustafi is in it. His was a calamitous signing and if Anne Robinson were in charge, we’d have no argument declaring “You are the weakest link! Goodbye!”

The uncertainty he transmits is as big a problem as the rash penalty-area tackle. What triggers these panic stations in his mind? I wouldn’t mind if his response was to put the ball in row Z every time. That’s safety first, no-nonsense and not conceding goals kind of defending.

He Flies Through The Air With…

It’s ‘fight or flight’ with Mustafi. Sadly, we get the flight element, usually into an unnecessary challenge in the area. Or onto his arse.

There’s only so many times you can look at a player and think he isn’t good enough for this level. Sadly, we’ve done than that on 94 occasions. Which is 95 too many.

Which begs the question of whether we continue with a back three. If you don’t trust Mustafi, the answer is not with Lichtsteiner. Monreal adapts comfortably to the wide central defender role but the Swiss hates it more than biting too hard into Toblerone and getting the top of the triangle stuck in the roof of your mouth.

The photo of he and Mustafi berating each other at Anfield sums up their relationship on the pitch: one disaster followed by another.

So, Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis, it seems you are the answer. Hopefully the pair of you can calm Mustafi’s lunatic tendency and make a back three work. I say that because I don’t think we’re strong enough for a back four which leaves the line-up:

Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny; Bellerin, Torreira, Xhaka, Monreal; Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette

The reality is we need three points. United solved their crisis for the most part when they sacked Mourinho. Now, we can’t rely on them cocking it up to stay in fifth.

I hope Anfield was the wake-up call and that there’s been no marking it down as a ‘one-off’. It wasn’t; it had been coming. Now is the chance to make sure the message has been “it won’t happen again”.

Finally, thanks to you all for dropping in during 2018. I hope 2019 is as good a year as we want it to be.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

24 thoughts on “Fulham Preview: 2019 Needs To Start With A Bang

  1. Dalm says:

    thanks for all the write ups YW – heres to a great 2019

  2. andy1886 says:

    ” I don’t think we’re strong enough for a back four”

    Against Fulham at home FFS. Tells you all you need to know about the mess we’re in defensively, and this is a club that was famed for it’s defensive solidity prior to AW’s brain fart last decade.

    That we have a turnover of over £400 million and can only afford loan deals in January tells you something else. I’ll be off to see that new Laurel & Hardy biopic later this month and wouldn’t be surprised to see Arsene and Ivan in the title roles. Clowns.

  3. lari03 says:

    Wishing everyone a splendid New Year and Unai, try not to mess this one up.

  4. Jonnygunner says:

    A happy new one to all of the posters,but especially to you YW…….we are all very grateful for the daily serving of all things Arsenal (I’m sure I speak for everyone with that sentiment).
    Up the Gunners ⚽️⚽️⚽️

  5. consolsbob says:

    There probably was something in that rant late yesterday but I couldn’t quite get a handle on it, much as our friend in SA.

    Hunter? Maybe but he was a lttle more literate, I thought.

    Have a good day lsg, if you don’t we won’t!

    I’ve done that by the way, caught the top of the toblerone in the roof of my mouth, I mean. Bloody painful.

  6. andy1886 says:

    Leno, Papastathopoulos, Koscielny, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

    Substitutes
    Cech, Elneny, Ramsey, Torreira, Lichtsteiner, Nketiah, Saka

  7. andy1886 says:

    No sign of Ozil, wonder what the ‘injury’ is this time?

  8. JD Gooner says:

    Best live stream for the game anyone?

  9. Bill says:

    Great preview Yogi. Happy New year to you and your family and everyone from ACLF

  10. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Happy New Year.

    I don’t think anyone watching us week in week out can have been that surprised about us getting torn apart by a team in Liverpool’s attacking form. The alarm probably stemmed from the feeling there was a psychological element to the collapse and that the tactical awareness had not improved sufficiently to minimize damage. Today, you could see we give everyone chances. Therefore, teams like Liverpool are likely to beat us, The Fulhams of this world, only on their day. At least we’re trying different things if the original plan is failing and at least we’re getting goals and wins from it. However, still too easy to run through the midfield and that’ll make defenders look worse than they are. One Torreira does not a shield make?

  11. Bill says:

    Much better game today.

    This would have been a good game for Ozil to pad his stats so he would look better to any team that might actually be interested in taking him.

  12. MikeSA says:

    We had guests for tea so unfortunately I missed the game.

    Not a good start to the year, I end up watching the game we get mullered in and miss the game we seem to have won comfortably.

  13. andy1886 says:

    Bill,

    (Emery) On whether Mesut Ozil is close to a return from his latest injury: I don’t know.

  14. Arsetralian says:

    Thanks YW for your blog all year
    Great writing, insight, opinion and always enough to get the posters revved up.

    I look forward to next year’s C and Bill show.
    Youth v high leverage games!
    And all the other views.
    I am sometimes saddened by those who still wish to mock our previous manager who brought such joy, trophies and worldwide admiration but hey you can’t have everything…

  15. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    I’ll be adding this to today’s post. It was Fulham bottom of the league stragglers and even they had their chances and managed to score. That’s all you need to know about our defence. We do have a very good attack and a passable midfield however. As for “OGSforArsenal” rant in Yogi’s post – https://www.aclfarsenal.co.uk/2018/12/31/28777/ he does make one or two valid points. The debt is being saddled onto the club, whether you care to believe it or not. Hence why we have no money for new signings in January. Secondly, Emery was naive to say the least to approach the Liverpool game with those tactics and personnel. I’ll let him off just this once as it’s his first season in the EPL. But if he tries to do that sh!t away to WH on the 12th, at home to Chelsea on the 19th and away to City on the 3rd Feb then I’ll chuck my toys out of the pram and call for his head. And you know why…!? NES and Wolves. If he can make Ryan Bennett perform away at Tottenham, then there is no excuse for Emery and Mustafi. In fact there is no excuse for any of that shambolic defending we saw at Liverpool. Because we should have setup to contain and defend for the first half of the match and frustrate. Game management. Non-existent. So I’m not buying all of this Emery our saviour crap. He needs to look at himself as well at that squad.

  16. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Oh and Happy 2019 everyone and thank you Yogi for all the great work. Keep it up mate.

  17. Damon says:

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that our team defensive fragility appeared as it has again at the same time that Holding went down lame.

    I know he’s young and learning his trade, but I think you can’t underestimate his impact on the team already

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