Arsenal v. Fulham: Craving Consistency

Quote of the day: “A society that does not honor the people who lived before, is not one that will survive.” Arsene Wenger talking about the Poppy Appeal.

Fulham

Arsenal host Fulham on Saturday and there is only one thing that you can count on for this game, nothing.

Statistically, Arsenal have the best defense in the League having conceded just 8 goals in 10 games this season. This is a significant improvement over the 21 goals conceded in the same period last season. And not only that but Arsenal have played three of the top teams in the League and they had played just United and Chelsea last term.

The problem is that the goals Arsenal are conceding are coming off player errors. That is the main reason why so many Arsenal supporters feel nervous about this Arsenal defense in spite of the stingy goals allowed number.

In attack in that same period last season, Arsenal scored 20 goals. Five against Chelsea. And this year they have just 15. Which isn’t terrible, but it’s a bit strange for an Arsene Wenger lead team to look like they are having difficulty scoring.

But worse than just profligacy in front of goal, this Arsenal team is having a hell of a time even generating shots over their last few games. Going large stretches of games passing the ball around in defense before a scramble at the end of the game to try to get a result.

I used to describe the Arsenal defense as 88 minutes of boredom and 2 minutes of panic. I think it’s fair to say that describes Arsenal both offensively and defensively at the moment.

Some of this difficulty scoring and with defensive lapses is down to injury. Last season Arsenal went through a difficult period where all four of the Arsenal fullbacks were out injured and the critical importance of fullbacks in the Arsenal system was laid bare. Vermaelen and Djourou deputized in their place for several very difficult games but ultimately did ok considering the demands of the position at Arsenal and their unfamiliarity with the role.

This season started with Jenkinson at right back and Gibbs at left back, with Sagna just a few weeks away from a return and Santos lauded as a capable backup. There was cause for optimism after the first few weeks as Jenkinson did outstanding and Gibbs played at a very high level. But now, Gibbs is out injured and Santos should have taken the reigns but instead he’s been such a bust that Vermaelen played left back in his stead against Schalke in the Champions League. Somewhat predictably, I suppose, Vermaelen scored an own goal. Gunners can’t wait for Gibbs to return from injury.

It’s not just Gibbs who is out. Szczesny’s been injured, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain went out a few weeks ago, Ramsey had a hamstring pull against United, Rosicky still hasn’t recovered from injury this summer, Diaby…, and Gervinho is out. And of the players who are playing, some look completely knackered, particularly Cazorla who has played 25 games since May.

Podolski is another player who looks like he might do well with a rest. He started the season well but hasn’t finished a single Arsenal match and is struggling to adjust to the demands of a left wing player in the English Premier League. Poldi can’t even get any shots at the moment, which has to be infuriating for a striker. Doubly so when he is being asked to do so much defensive work as Arsenal have adopted a 4-4-1-1 in defense this season. And tripply so as teams are targeting the left side of Arsenal’s defense because they perceive Santos as a weakness.

Again, that 2nd Schalke goal is illustrative. Vermaelen gets a lot of blame for not dealing with the aerial threat and for sticking his foot out to score but if you watch the buildup again, the whole team is out of position.

It’s a 7 on 8, Arsenal have numbers, but the Arsenal players all drift toward the ball, leaving the two players unmarked in the left back position. As an aside, if you don’t believe me that Arsenal play a 4-4-1-1 in defense, here’s your proof. As you can see from his position it’s Podolski’s job to cover left back.

And yet, here he is, at the top of the D, ready to spring the counter attack, not defending #12.

My original point was that injury and fatigue have caused problems with Arsenal’s defense and offense. I should amend that to add, players also not playing their positions properly. It’s not a position that he’s unfamiliar with as he’s got 100 German caps playing on the left. But it could be a case that he’s just a bit lazy. His former coach, Berti Vogts, warned that could be the case.

So, on both ends of the pitch Arsenal are dealing with “issues” at the moment but they are issues which I think can be dealt with.

Fulham, meanwhile, have the third best offense in the League with… drum roll… 21 goals! Fulham lost leading goal-scorer Clint Dempsey this summer and you wouldn’t be blamed to expect them to struggle scoring but they have replaced Dempsey with goals from midfield: Duff and Sidwell have scored 3 each, which ties forwards Berbatov and Petric. This is a team that can be an offensive threat.

That said, the threat mainly comes at Craven Cottage where they have scored 12 and allowed just 4. Away from home Fulham have scored 9 goals and have allowed 12 — second worst record in the League.

But that’s the thing, right? With this Arsenal team, I’m having a real hard time trusting my instincts about these games. Who knows what could happen tomorrow?

Will Fulham attack down their right? Perhaps. If Santos plays, probably.

Will Wenger pull another surprise out of his hat and play Arshavin? Maybe, Cazorla does need a rest and with a Spain trip to the Americas slated for mid-week and the Spurs game at the end of the week, now would be a good time to rest him. But if Podolski is a bit of a defensive liability, Arshavin is a complete defensive nightmare.

And really, which Arsenal team will show up? The one that gives maximum effort for 90 minutes or the one that is content to pass the ball around in defense for 50 minutes, allow the opposition to have the ball for 40 minutes, and try to steal the game at the end?

I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to watch to find out.

Qq

34 thoughts on “Arsenal v. Fulham: Craving Consistency

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Jop

      Comparing the purchase of Henry to being “not dissimilar to Liverpool spending 70 per cent of their £50m Fernando Torres money on Andy Carroll last year” is absolutely asinine. Henry was in the youth team at Monaco when Wenger was there, so he was well aware of his potential and talent. Two things, along with ball control and a general footballing ability that Carroll obviously lacks.

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1skyranger

    A fair analysis.85 % boredom, 5% panic at both ends! Had to chuckle at that. Spot on. Still love em though.

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    At HT, you’d have to say both Arsenal teams showed up. The comfortable swag Arsenal of the first 20 minutes, and then the absolute shit Arsenal of the next 25.

    It’s like catching falling dog shit with chopsticks, to pick up on some of the quality metaphors on 7am this week.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

      Jekyll and Hyde as I’ve been saying for a while now. I’m actually getting past the embarrassment and starting to enjoy never quite knowing which side of the scoreboard we’ll end up on until the very end.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    If only we could be like Everton now.

    We’re in Liverpool territory now. This is a mid-table team.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

      Yeah, one thing I would be like them is to have our first choice left back. I wonder what happen if they constantly lose Baines to injuries.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Giroud was fantastic. Really worked hard for the team from start to finish.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the rest of the performances. Kind of like having sick in my mouth? Not sure.

    I suppose credit is due to Koscielny’s last-ditch tackles, but why are we relying on them?

    Baaaaaaaarrrrrfffffff…

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

      The interesting part is I’m pretty sure that our 3 conceded goals and last ditch tackles of Koscielny (Two I think), came from the left side. The side which Vermaelen and Podolski were. You know, if we can’t have Baines, I don’t know who we could potentially have that is excel at defends or so good at offense that he constantly push the defender back. I remember there’s Tremoulinas from Toulouse (I think) but I don’t have any other names in mind. Maybe the Dortmund left back, but I think he sign a new contract not so long ago.

  5. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

    I have to say that we attack with purpose and there’s more bite at the match. From an attacking point of view, I was disappointed with Ramsey, he did not contribute to our attacking or even on our defending play. He did what best with him, that is dwelling on the ball.
    On penalty, I just had the feeling we would miss. I wish it had been Giroud to take the penalty, but it wasn’t. For Arteta, this would be one of the game that he was the deciding factor in the negative way.

  6. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

    Had to make a choice between drinking Red Stripe beer, eating Jerk pork while laying on 7 miles of white sand beach in Negril, Jamaica or watching the game.

    Glad I chose the former. First time as an Arsenal fan of 9 years that I have made that type of choice. My eternal optimism has soured and replaced by the cold hard facts of life. With the combination of AW, Gazidis and Kroenke we are destined to live life without a meaningful trophy and beautiful football.

    Well, off again to reclaim the beautiful, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean and Appleton rum chased with ginger wine. Oh, I forgot, and a bevy of beautiful young ladies with impeccable complexions and fantastic bodies.

    As they say in Jamaica, Mi gawn (bye bye).

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

      I envy you, I had to choose between watching the match and going to work on Saturday, and it wasn’t much of a choice really.
      Wish I had your choice, so I could turn down that beer and young ladies.
      Of course not.

      1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

        My annual pilgrimage to the land of my birth for rejuvenation of the mind.

        Still pissed though with what is being done to my beloved team.

    2. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

      that’s been the most depressing thing about this season for me. all the hope, the expectation, the enjoyment is waned now, i think the shock of us selling Song really hammered home to me how the next several years are going to be. we don’t just sell our best players anymore, we sell all our players. Kroenke will not allow Usmanov to take over and flood us with money, no advertiser is going to pay egregiously to be associated with the bland football we now play, and we are due for, well I don’t know.

    3. Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

      I wish I’d had the strength to go on a ride this morning. Apparently, my addiction got the better of me.

  7. Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    Well, I envy Caribkid his availability of choice, but I don’t envy us supporters enduring more of this utter mediocrity.

    We have 1 win in our last 4 matches. In those last 4 we’ve allowed 12 goals. We’ve yet again snatched a draw from the jaws of victory while Manchester United (damn them) still show everyone how it’s done, spotting Vila two goals before cooling dispatching them.

  8. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    Because I miss it, my good, bad, and ugly.

    Good–Welcome Olivier Giroud, the one that Arsene saw when he scouted you. A very well taken brace, hit the post, forced a very good save, and generally caused havoc to Fulham’s backline all game.

    Bad–Arteta, a player that I think of as a lynchpin to the side, finally had a bad game. It’s understandable, you can’t play well all the time and given a long consistent run of good to excellent games, it’s forgivable. What is less forgivable is that teams have targeted Mikel quite a bit lately and it doesn’t seems as if Arsene quite knows what to do about it. And that’s actually the real bad thing about Arteta’s game.

    Ugly–The forceful resetting of my expectations. For this season and until something drastic occurs, we’re in a dogfight for fourth. Our peers and true rivals are Tottenham, Everton, Fulham, and on current form, WBA. Given the run of games we have this month, Liverpool could soon be be coming up in our rear view mirror.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    It’s a funny thing how last season’s team was doomed to fail, but managed to finish third, and this year’s team had such high hopes and will not even finish 4th.
    You could say this maybe has something to do with the club selling their top scorer, and that would be probably right. I mean, just look at United. They sold Cristiano Ronaldo and haven’t won a single title in the next season, nor have won the League since then.
    Oh, wait.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      I agree that we won’t finish 3rd or 4th this season. We look very, very average in almost every area of the pitch, and, unlike last year, we don’t have van Persie to carry us.

      A shame about Arteta today. Really felt for him. He’s given a lot for this team since he joined, and he looks knackered. Sadly, there is no alternative but to keep playing him, keep wearing him down. Why? Because Arsene Wenger thought Diaby and Ramsey were like new signings this summer.

      Foolish.

  10. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Londoncalling12

    Hello everyone.

    It’s been a few hours since the end of the game and I’m finally home from the Emirates after experiencing a 3-3 draw when my team was 2- 0 up against Fulham.

    Last year this fixtures was also a draw with TV5 scoring both goals and I remembered thinking at the time, it was a game ideally suited for Carl Jenkinson and his crosses. Yes even then I saw something in the boy. He will be an Arsenal legend, as long as he is not sold to our competitor.

    This year from an elevated position (posh seats) I’ve concluded that Arsenal needs a 6ft giant midfield tackler with creativity going forward. Yes! We need a Goalie and a Striker but in my little world that one vital individual (Giant and strong please Arsene) will make the difference to whether Arsenal end the season in the top 4 or mid table.

    Today as a project I watched/focused on 3 Arsenal players throughout the full 90 minutes and I can say this without prejudice that our Captain has a problem (it’s not a physical one but a mental issue). Thomas Vaemalen looks very ordinary on the pitch and really need to get his Mojo back or else his confidence will falter even further and HE may be relieved of his Captainship. He is not a great leader at present.

    I watched Santi Cazorla and can confirm what Arsene Wenger said in Press Conference that his team is JADED. Santi was never in the game today (he made up the numbers) and it may be a good idea if he calls in SICK for the National Team because he will not get better without a full 7 days rest.

    I’ve ignored the fact he was well marshalled by Fulham’s midfield, but Santi on having the ball spent a lot of time passing it sideways and backwards, which made me think he is very tired.

    The final player I focused on was Giroud. The man is magnificent in both his physical strength and his ability to leap and head the ball. He caught every header sent by Vito Mannone towards Fulham goal and the annoying part was; not one knockdown was captured by either Podolski or Theo. Both these players need to look at their positioning in terms of this gift Giroud has. The guy is an excellent player and yes I going to say it….he loves playing for Arsenal.

    In terms of the other players…everyone with the exception of Theo was average today…. and to be honest Arshavin did more to help the team in the final 6 minutes than Ramsay did in the whole second half. Ramsay looked lost and uncoordinated and I felt sad for him today.

    Another name I should mention is Per Mertesacker. Our midfield was so afraid of losing the ball, they kept on passing it back to him throughout the game and by the end he who looked totally shattered…. another one near the red zone.

    All in all, we were 2 nil up and we draw 3-3. Giroud should have scored a hat trick and in my final analysis HE WAS the shining light in the team today.

    Going forward: I’m making some special catholic Hail Marys that Rosicky and Gibbs are both back on Saturday; as I see Spurs winning that game at the Emirates. We need to accept that we are an mid table team and this year may be the last time for a few years our team LIGHTS UP the Champions League… and in that case we should ALL enjoy every moment we participate in that competition this season.

    P.S. we will not win the League or the Champions League… but we should try very hard to win the Capital Cup and the FA Cup.

    PLEASE PLEASE PRETTY PLEASE ARSENE: We need a clone of Patrick Vieira in our team PLEASE Arsene find him wherever he may be in the world.

    I love my team and I love football

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

      Wenger rather deludely thought he had that physical, ball winning midfielder with creativity going forward in the form of one Abou Diaby. He willfully disregarded Diaby’s injury record, sold Song, failed to get an adequate backup because he didn’t want to kill Coquelin, and gambled the season on Abou staying fit.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        That’s absolutely right, Tee Song, and it’s why I’m more and more sympathetic to the idea of a managerial change. What manager with any wit would put their faith in Diaby, Ramsey, and/or Coquelin to help the team get into the top four? We were crying out for a solid central midfielder this summer, and a loan deal for someone like Sahin would have taken all the pressure off Wilshere, who is very slowly finding his way back to form (and we’re already in mid-November).

        We will not make the top four this season, and it’s a shame, because when you lose it, it could take many years if not decades to regain it.

        Wenger’s refusal to strengthen key positions has to be put down as a major factor in this decline.

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1Michigangunner

    Mid table prowess!! It’s been coming for a while. Wenger’s policies are taking effect. He is destroying his legacy because of greed. I hope he, Hill-Wood and Gazidis enjoy their bounty. I can’t wait for them to get out!!

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      It’s been coming for a while.

      ===

      So true. No coincidence that the penny finally dropped when we sold the last player of the kind of quality that saw him join during the Invicibles era.

      I completely understand van Persie’s decision. Completely. I honestly don’t give a fuck whether the “RVP-is-a-cunt” crowd hates on that.

  12. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    You can really tell how we all feel deflated even by the lack of +1′s or -1′s that usually accompany good comments like the ones we have today.

  13. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1dano328

    Last week I commented about Giroud spending too much time fretting over his missed chances. His play today was the silver lining (if there is one). He hit the post after a great ball from Cazorla but then scored 1.5 seconds later. The pretty French boy can score and he works his socks off.

  14. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

    Regarding Arteta giving the ball away for the penalty, some blame has to also be apportioned to the player who passed it to him in that position (I think it was Cazorla). If there was no easy pass, he should have just cleared it. We are overly addicted to short passes and it cost us, as it has in the past.

    I’m in two minds whether it was a good idea for Arteta to take the final penalty kick. I too would have thought Giroud should take it, but had he missed it or had it saved, perhaps it would have harmed his confidence which has been in need of a boost. In taking responsibility, Arteta is also taking on the burden of what happens if he misses it. So in one sense, he was brave.

  15. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    I missed the match yesterday. I’ll be watching it soon on Arsenal Player. But I can’t believe people are giving up on the top 4 already. I can only conclude that believing we won’t get there in the end offers some sort of relief, rather than being on the edge all the time like this Arsenal team is rather inclined to make you be.

    I do agree with not relying on Diaby. It shouldn’t have happened. The only way that gamble could be justified is if it worked, and it didn’t. He’s still injured, and sad as it is, his Arsenal career must be re-evaluated. (Or put him on a pay as you play deal for the cup competitions)

    We’ll still finish top 4. We’ve had close shaves in the past, and this one will be close too. But we’ll need to buy at least a couple of players in January.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

      Of course, I also understand the concerns about the club. With Theo and Bacary both being sold, adequate replacements (or improvements) not bought, and the likes of Cazorla and Wilshere being whisked away by big money moves, mid table would seem like the most we can expect.

      I guess I just don’t believe Wenger would allow it to go that far. I genuinely don’t. Maybe that’s blind faith and I don’t see what I should, but I am not going to go all out cynical about Arsenal just yet. Otherwise, what’s the point?

      Results notwithstanding (as in, even if they improve) January will be a big month for the club, and I think next summer will be the defining one in terms of knowing where the club is, and intends to be.

  16. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Le Samourai was magnificent today. He ‘s getting the hang of this EPL thing it would seem when he is given the ball.

    We’re up 2-0 and I can’t get excited about it because I know when Fulham start to really play (Schalke 04 anyone) that once again we’ll be in big doo-doo. Once again by the number it was Arsenal 10 forward passes and 600 square and back. Cluck, cluck cluck, said Chicken Litttle. The only shock for me was that we managed to get a draw. Fulham were happy as pig in shite to come away with a draw. Down a man and facing a PK, I’d take a draw as well. Many a time you’ll hear a losing manager say we deserved something from the game. Well we didn’t lose but we sure as hell didn’t deserve anything from this game.

    We didn’t deserve a PK in the first place but Phil Dowd must have had a moment of madness to forget the the no Arsenal PK edict from the FA.

    What is about Arsenal that we have so called ‘good players’ self destruct before our very eyes? Gallas, Eboue (I know but his moment was painful to watch as was his response but the supporters reaction was heartless), Santos and now Ramsey and Arteta in the same game. Self-destruct maybe a tad harsh be I’m warming to the task. How many times can you dwell on the ball, lose it and not still not have a f**king clue that what ever you’re trying to do ain’t working. (SAF, we’ll trade you Cleverly straight up :( ) Then like some typhoid Mary, Ramsey spreads his incompetence to Arteta. I had hope that 2 years removed from the Shawcross assault, he would get back on track, not. These jokers have just made Arshavin by default our next great hope because he’s done no wrong this season. You of course know that a one-legged Diaby would start over Ramsey any day and all day. To be fair, we’ve seen Arshavin lose the ball in a similar circumstance as Arteta but he didn’t give up a PK for the go ahead goal.

    Is there some Maginot Line that is keeping Cazorla from crossing the top of the 18 yd box in open play?

    If Inter want Sagna, they can come in anytime for him. Did that broken leg cause him to forget how to drive to the baseline and cross the ball accurately? Let an ‘old man’ let Evra show how it done son.

    Coquelin, nice player but what have you done for me lately? Nada.

    No OG from Vermaelen this week and that ends the best thing I can say about his game.

    Mannone may wish he was still the no. 1 at East Bum F**K FC before this all over.

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