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Goodbye Champions League – Arsenal 0-0 Fulham

The match started with anticipation that today was going to be the day we turned our season around, Wenger had chosen Nasri, Arshavin and Vela to play behind van Persie, whilst Diaby was fit to play.  Everton had just closed the gap on us to one point.  Surely we would put Fulham to the sword.

 

The game started with flowing football and chances created, but then we descended into our normal shot shy Arsenal.  When opportunities presented themselves to shoot, we hesitated, when we were able to cross the ball, we passed it, why should we shoot when that might lead to a goal?

 

As the first half went on, we regressed into our shell, no shots, no pressure and of course no goals.  Wenger spent an eternity on his feet trying to cajole the players into life, but all to no avail.

 

The second half came and as much as we tried, it was the same story.  A failure to take our chances, the few that we created.  Were we really interested in taking three points and trying to qualify for the Champions League?  From the way we played, the players do not seem to care.  No longer do we press the opposition, no longer do we create any chances, we have taken passing football to a new level, and we pass the ball to death.  Nobody takes players on any more, our strikers are totally ineffectual.

 

The game ended with the fans venting their frustration by booing the players off the pitch, they in turn trudged off with their heads hung in shame. 

 

We have now drawn four games 0-0, in a row; many fans are now experiencing what the fag-end of the Graham era was like and they do not like it. 

 

We now trail Aston Villa by 5 points, whilst Everton are breathing down our necks.  We are not even assured of 5th place. 

 

If some players at the end of the season wish to leave, because “Arsenal will not meet their ambitions,” let them!  These are the same players that got us into this mess with displays that are not worthy of Wengerball.

 

We are struggling to qualify for the Champions League, our best hope for any salvation is to win the FA Cup and hope we can progress as far as possible in the Champions League.  Our football at the moment is a disgrace and the fans are being cheated by overpaid prima donnas.     

Fulham 1-0 Arsenal – Match Report

Arsenal’s second game of the season ended in defeat at the hands of Fulham.  A lifeless Arsenal display has left many questioning where the team is heading.

Wenger made two changes to the team brining in Toure and van Persie for Djourou and Bendtner.  Vela did not make the bench as he only arrived back from Mexico late on Thursday, so Gibbs was given a place on the bench.

Arsenal started the game at a ground that has been a happy hunting ground in recent years, they started knowing that a win will propel their season forward.   It was to be a very disappointing and frustrating afternoon for the fans.  Had we woken up at the fag end reign of George Graham, was this really Arsenal and Wengerball?

How poor were Arsenal, well our first shot on target was not until the 85th minute, and that was a 35 yard tame shot from Adebayor.  It could have all been so different had Adebayor’s first half header gone in rather than hit the post. 

Instead Arsenal fell behind after a Fulham corner found Gallas sleeping as he allowed Hangelland to meet the ball and tap in Fulham’s goal from their only meaningful attack in the firs half.

What followed was a complete disaster.  Where can we start?

Clichy had a poor game, too often giving the ball away and not getting forward enough.  The recent signing of Silvestre should have been the inspiration for Clichy to produce his best ever display, but on current form he will end up on the bench.

The midfield was a calamity.  This has not surprised anyone, except Wenger.  You cannot lose Diarra, Flamini, Gilberto and Hleb and expect to survive.  With your two creative players injured, Fabregas and Rosicky, a manager needs to look at the squad in pre-season and acquire players of class.  This has not happened at Arsenal. We have to make do with Eboue making aimless runs and no tackles in midfield.  This is a defender, not good enough to play at right back and given a chance in midfield and found wanting there too.  Alongside we have a youngster in Denilson.  The young Brazilian is too young to be expected to hold the midfield together. Between these two, they rarely made a pass of quality and too often they were out-muscled. 

As the game went on, we looked to the bench to see what we have in reserve, and the answer was nothing.  We had Ramsey and Wilshere as alternatives.  This is purely down to our transfers in the summer.  The summer is the time improve the squad, and we failed to do that, so now two games into the season we are scratching around for a signing. 

Walcott had another poor game, his strength is pace, running at defenders, but everytime, Theo kept on cutting in, where there were many Fulham players to thwart him.

Adebayor and van Persie played like strangers.  Van Persie is not the same player he was last a season, and is desperate for a goal, this was evident in his attempted shots from anywhere.  He had four free kicks and his aim never improved from the first to the last.

What was strange was that Eboue and Denilson were not substituted, and when we needed to attack, Wenger sent on Song to replace Toure.

All is not lost as we are still only two games in and we will recover, but relying upon Fabregas is not correct and is also unfair on the Spaniard.  The reserves are too young and not up to it, Arsene must have realised this by now.  Three games have seen three hopeless performances from the midfield, the strikers cannot  score if they are not given the proper supplies.  

Winning the league or a good run in the Champions League is worth £30M – £50M to the club, yet we are not prepared to offer more than £10M for Alonso to achieve either, where is our ambition? We need not only a central midfielder but also a winger otherwise we will struggle this season to get into the top four.

Fulham v Arsenal – Match Preview

Week two of the Premier League sees the Gunners visit Fulham.  We have a good record against Fulham at the Cottage, having won all bar one of our games.  The season started well for Arsenal with 1-0 win over West Brom, whilst Fulham lost 2-1 to newly promoted Hull City.

Roy Hodgson has been busy over the summer dismantling the team Lawrie Sanchez built and bringing player after player.  His most high profile summer signing was Andy Johnson from Everton for £10M.  Johnson though will be absent on Saturday, leaving Bobby Zamorra to lead the Cottagers attack.

Arsenal’s new signing will be in the squad for the game.  He is not expected to start.  It will be interesting if Wenger decides its time to introduce Toure in the place of Djourou.  The Swiss defender played well against West Brom and will be very unfortunate to miss out.

Midfield still remains a problem for Arsenal.  Diaby and Rosicky are not expected to be back until September, whilst we will have to wait until Wednesday at the earliest to see Cesc make his first appearance. This leaves Theo to continue plying his trade.  We expect an improvement in Walcott, he is too inconsistent and makes his substitution an inevitability week-in, week-out. Nasri remains a doubt for the game,  he pulled out of the France game during the week.  Wenger will not wish to aggravate the injury, but if it is minor he will play and be rested against FC Twente.

This leaves the central midfield where the Alex Song will compete for a place.  Whilst on loan and Charlton and playing for Cameroon, Song performed well and we must hope that he can transfer that form to us this Saturday. Otherwise it will be Denilson and Eboue.  If only Eboue could practice shooting in training, he might stand a chance of hitting the target.

Last week Arsene played Bendtner with Adebayor, despite a good game, I expect van Persie to return to the starting eleven and score his first goal of the season.

With players returning from injury and others leaving on loan, the bench will see Carlos Vela, Aaron Ramsey and Mark Randall take their places alongside Silvestre.  Arsenal fans will be hoping to see the Mexican striker on Saturday, but we will have to wait to Wednesday.

Last Saturday saw a n all too familiar Arsenal, plenty of chances and inability to kill off the opposition.  Until we get midfield re-enforcements and Adebayor rediscovers his scoring touch, we will struggle to kill games.  I expect a victory on Saturday but not without our usual last ten minutes of panic defending.

The game is one of several that kicks-off at 5.30pm for Arsenal over the next couple of weeks and is liveon Setanta Sports.