Arsenal 1 - Fulham 1
Posted on November 26th, 2011 at 8:39 PM
Today's Premier League encounter saw Arsenal take on London rivals Fulham at the Emirates.
After a midweek Champions League tie against Borussia Dortmund, Arsene Wenger made a few changes to the starting XI that saw both Gervinho and Koscieleny drop to the bench to be respectively replaced by Arshavin and Djourou.
The game began at a lethargic pace with steady but well placed Arsenal passes to keep possession.
The lead was almost taken on three minutes when Robin Van Persie slipped through Arshavin to finish but the goal was ruled out for a close offside.
Early on you could almost feel it was just going to be one of 'those days', the ground seemed quiet which mimicked well the attacking flare of Arsenal.
The half went on with both teams having chances to create but neither having solid attempts on goal.
A few minutes before half time it was very nearly 1-0 to the Arsenal, Arteta swung a free kick in but Mertesacker couldn't get the ball on target and it went just right of the post.
The second half continued in much the same fashion as the first, quite plain and both teams having somewhat ordinary chances. Most shots on both goals ended up either being blocked, deflected or sailing wide leaving neither keeper with masses of work.
Arsenal got very unlucky on 64 minutes as Danny Murphy floated a pass to John Arne Riise just as Vermaelen slid in to tackle, the ball hit his foot and beat Szczesny into the Arsenal goal, 0-1 to Fulham and it wasn't looking too positive.
The lead was almost doubled minutes on as Bobby Zamora tucked the ball into the very right hand side of the Arsenal goal leaving Szczesny with no chance to save, luckily it was ruled out for offside.
Wenger reacted by bringing on Gervinho and Diaby for Ramsey and Mertesacker, possibly one eye on the Tuesday night Carling Cup quarter final? Either way Gervinho certainly gave some much needed energy to the left hand side where it had been dull to say the least.
The scoreline was almost levelled up by a headed Djourou chance from 6 yards but a miraculous save some how managed to kept it out.
Gervinho continued his attacks down the left wing but the equalising goal came from a Theo Walcott right wing cross that allowed Vermaelen to head home and somewhat make up for his earlier misfortune.
The Arsenal attacks continued late into the game but it was just not meant to be and the referee blew for full time.
Overall today I think the team played okay, without Gervinho on the left we did look quite plain and I'd hope Wenger will analyse that position before January to look at the possibility of strengthening it. In my opinion I think it's pretty clear Arshavin is no longer up to playing in that left winger role, he could still has a year or two left at the club but not so much as a week in week out starter. I'm sure you all know the name of a left winger that would fit well into that position, so I'll leave it to you to create the January rumours.
Another player worth mentioning today was Chamakh, he came on late and didn't get very long on the field yet every single time I see him play I think exactly the same thing ... Chamakh, are you a human 1-2 machine?? If you watch him, when he gets the ball he's always looking for that return pass, very rarely does he go on himself and create something, as an Arsenal forward I don't think that's good enough. Surprisingly though I don't think he was like that before he arrived, I think it's just a confidence thing not helped by the pressure of performing for us and I don't think it's happened or will do in the future for him at Arsenal.
If you put this game in context with our recent Premier League form then you'd see we've gained 16 points out of a possible 18, a considerable improvement over our early season and a result that I don't think damages us too badly.
It's an important week for us because we've had to beat Dortmund in order to qualify for the Champions League knock-out stages and we also have a very tough tie against Manchester City in the Carling Cup quarter finals ahead of us. If I were to rank the three games in order of which I'd be most happy to sacrifice then todays Fulham game would top that. I'd like to think this is how Wenger has also seen it and would explain his reasoning for dropping two first team players to the bench. If it's worked then our players will be fighting fit and energised for the Tuesday night cup tie and we can go into it with a very good chance to field our current strongest XI.
There is no reason for us to be demoralised by this defeat as we've no fresh injuries and are in a positive position going into a tough game against Manchester City this Tuesday night. So let's cross our fingers, sing for the Arsenal and support our team into the Semi Finals, Come on you Gunners!!
Written by Dan