Arsenal v. Fulham, Liveblogging the 0-0 draw

Chavs are known for their homing ability and are often used as couriers.

6:30: Morning all, I’m still sick, I couldn’t sleep, and I haven’t eaten so I’m in a rotten mood, plus Everton are beating WBA handily in the early game, which would leave us just 1 point off 6th place ahead of the match. Scoring goals is absolutely imperative here: another 0-0 draw would really put pressure on the team.

Fortunately, it looks like the boss is aware of that and has included some surprises in the starting lineup:

Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Arshavin, Denilson, Diaby, Nasri, Van Persie, Vela. Subs: Fabianski, Ramsey, Song Billong, Djourou, Bendtner, Eboue, Gibbs.

Lessee, we got Arshavin, Diaby, Nasri, van Persie, and Vela gets a start… I LIKE IT! That’s an attacking lineup if I ever saw one.

6:40: Allright, this isn’t fair. I want to hate Martin O’Neill but when the man offers to have the team eat dinner with the fans who traveled to Moscow to watch the Villa crap-fest, it’s very hard to dislike him.

6:45 Wenger big ups Future England #1. I hadn’t really thought about it but he is in top form right now. It was only, what, a month ago that people were calling for Wenger to sign a “real keeper” and now he’s at the top of the heap really. Strange season.

7:03 Kickoff, UP THE ARSE!

7:04 Clichy plays AJ onside and the diminutive striker nearly puts a shot on goal.  GET IN THE GAME GAEL — the last thing we need is to go down 1-0 against this team.

7:07 Nasri shows some graft and gets a foul for his trouble. If that’s a foul, I expect Arsenal to get 100 free kicks in this match.

7:11 Very troubling start as in the first 8 minutes Fulham really could have scored three goals. The back four look very shaky. Credit to Fulham, they are attacking.

7:13 Make that 4 goals. Looks like Fulham has found a new wrinkle on the Arsenal high line and intend to make us pay for our ball-holdery, high line, attacking wing-back football. I’m officially worried.

7:22 Ref is letting Fulham get away with all kinds of fouls in the middle.

7:28 Etuhu is dominating the midfield. Combined with Danny Murphy and Fulham are getting the ball forward at nearly every opportunity and taking the ball away when we do get sight of posession. Funny, but this Fulham reminds me a lot of the invicibles.

7:33 Would anyone be surprised to see a 55-45 possession split in favor of Fulham? Arsenal can’t seem to win the ball back.

7:37 Clichy’s nightmare game continues — he seems totally out of the game as he lumbers back on defense allowing the dreadful Zamora to get in a cross that should have been a goal. The only bright spot right now is the play of Arshaviour who has created some really good opportunities that van Persie has squandered.

7:44 Hey, I have those exact boots. They are really nice and I got a great deal on them via Amazon.

7:48 Fulham have settled back down and are playing to their level again. I expect the second half to start and finish a lot like the first: Fulham will come out looking to steal a goal and play solid defense. What’s Wenger going to do on the 60th minute to break this?

8:08 Second half kicks off and the only changes are for Fulham who change their beard for a stool.

8:12 Free kick in a dangerous spot. Come on Robin, if you want to play for a Champions League team, don’t just bitch about it, make it happen.

8:13 WEAR A CONDOM, MATT! Christ, Arsenal are crap from set plays. Maybe Jet Pinoy Gooner is right, since we suck ass at set plays maybe Arsenal should start taking long range shots?

8:17 Brief spell of attack from Arsenal, but our wing-backs service is pathetic, as Sagna and Clichy ping-pong the ball back and forth between them.

8:20 Corner. Wasted.

8:25 Breakfast. Done. Bendtner. On. Vela. Sucked.

8:30 Take off Clichy and bring on Rambo, Arsenal’s season depends on a goal and right now Clichy is a liability offensively and defensively.

8:32 The boss brings on the Pass Master instead. 6th place here we come!

8:37 Ok, I know I’m being overly negative. The team is playing their hearts out but they just lack that last little bit of quality to put teams like this away and that’s insanely frustrating.

8:42 Arshavin is clearly unfit. Wenger needs to pull him off but the team is so bereft of options that we’re forced to play a guy who is walking on the pitch. As I write that, he gets a shot off…

8:48 5 minutes until the season is over.

8:53 This Arsenal team have given up, they can’t win the ball back. Hell, Arshavin can’t even run anymore.  Which is irrelevant because even off set plays we suck.

8:56 Fulltime — Take a good look at those empty seats. That’s what’s waiting for us the rest of this season and into next. This team is not good enough and that’s all there is to it. I better not see any articles quoting van Persie as demanding Champions League football because he had multiple chances to put us on our way to securing that spot and failed miserably.

Arsenal v. Fulham match preview, plus I get all wonkish on Arsenal's financials.

Blatter does his Carnack the Magnificent routine.

Good morning lads and ladies… wait… do any women read this blog? I mean, beside my partner who religiously reads the blog because she loves me. Anyone?

Anyway, big match weekend here on the blog. First, the match is being played on Fox Soccer Channel which means that I get to watch the match live here at home, in my skivvy’s. That, in turn, means that you all get to enjoy me liveblogging the match, in my skivvy’s. Then we’ll end the weekend on Sunday with an orgiastic Good, Bad, and Ugly. It will be the Full American this weekend, folks, indulge yourselves!

Ahead of the match our boy Diaby is injured again. I hate to say it, but Arsenal need him healthy, the contrast between Diaby and Song as far as attacking is concerned is very stark indeed and with Fulham pulling in to Emirates and backing the bus in front of goal this evening we need all the attack we can muster.

The good news on the attack front is that Walcott will start full training on Monday, Eduardo is expected to be back for the Burnley match next weekend and perhaps Adebayor the next week for Roma. None of which helps against Fulham.

I do expect Arsaviour to start tomorrow which should give the team a lot more creativity and flair going forward. Quite where he will start is still up in the air, but if I had to guess I’d say on the right, Nasri on the left, and the Song and Denilson pairing in the middle. Personally, I’d rather Arsenal play with the 4-2-3-1 that they worked to great effect against Roma which would mean van Persie up top, Bendtner out right, Arsaviour in the middle, and Nasri on the left. Then at 60 minutes, take off Arsaviour, bring on Vela out left, move Nasri to the middle, and if we’re up a goal, put The Pass Master in on the right.

Now that I’ve said it, Wenger will do none of the above and probably put The Pass Master in from the start and bring Bishcoff off the bench or something. Who knows…

All I know is that I don’t want to sit here and liveblog the same kind of stultifying event I saw last weekend at the Emirates.

Speaking of stultifying, for Fulham’s part, a 0-0 draw is exactly what they are looking for, after all, they have only scored three (3, tres, troi, 三) away goals this season.

THREE AWAY GOALS ALL SEASON.

That little nugget makes Fulham the absolute most defensive away team I can ever remember — even Derby scored 8 away goals last year and that wasn’t because they were playing defensively it’s because they sucked eggs.

So, if you all thought we had a hard time breaking down Sunderland, you’re in for a real “treat” as you get to watch the most anti-football of all anti-football squads.

Maybe it’s the cold medicine but my head hurts just thinking about how 4th place rests on overcoming this mountain of a team, with their mountain of a center half (Brede Hangelaand), and here we are relying on our little tiny corpulent Ruskie. Ohhh…. 1-0 to the Arsenal would be a great result.

While I’m on the topic of fourth place and really the importance of this match, yesterday my Antipodean reader asked how I think the team might not be profitable when Gazidis is assuring fans that Arsenal don’t need Champions League football.

There are several things that lead me to this conclusion. First, if you look at the 2008 full season financials, the amount of profits that Arsenal socked away for that year is just a little over £6m more than their earnings from the Champions League campaign.  Granted, that number is after tax, of which they will no doubt pay less since they earned less and whatnot, but the point remains: Champions League qualification is worth a lot of money, roughly £15m

Now, take a look at this table. Each team’s earnings from live broadcasts, Europe, and their cup runs is detailed. If you remember, last year Everton finished 5th and Villa finished 6th. Notice that difference between Arsenal’s earnings and those two teams: £19m between 4th and 5th place and £22m between 4th and 6th place. The higher you finish in the Premier League, the more exciting your team, the more money you make from television, Europe, and cup runs.

Then there’s gate receipts. With turnover for home games at over £3m per match and Arsenal playing 6 home matches in last year’s CL run, plus some match revenue sharing for some away matches, we could conservatively put that number at £18m for the Champions League run.

Thus, in the worst case scenario, a 6th place finish (we are closer to 6th place than 4th), just in match day, prize money, and television revenues Arsenal will lose nearly  £40m. Which is exactly what Arsenal’s before tax profitability was last year.

If you subtract an inevitable decline in shirt sales, ticket sales, and other concessions that would follow a 6th place finish and the concomitant decline in supporters I think you can see that losing out on 4th place would be a dire situation. That means that either Gazidis is bat-shit nuts, has some special knowledge that the club hasn’t released, or is bullshitting the supporters. I don’t know which, but if I had to guess it would be the last option.

I’ll admit that my numbers might be a bit off, I’m just going by the data that I’m given. But the importance of 4th place cannot be emphasized enough. The captain is gunning for it, van Persie is supposedly holding out on a new deal because we might not make 4th place, and Martin O’Neil is willing to shit on Villa supporters who paid nearly £1000 each to travel to Moscow to secure it. It’s worth a lot of money, Villa are desperate (to the tune of £90m in debt) to secure it, and this is the week that Arsenal need to dig in and secure it.

In little over a fortnight, we’ll know if Arsenal have the goods. Teams are going to play “anti-football” and no team will do that better than Fulham tomorrow. So, while every match is crucial, this match is crucial-er and they need a positive start, or all of the work that Wenger has done over the last ten years might be undone in this one.

With that said, I’ll see you all here tomorrow at 7am for the liveblog. Personally, I’m hoping for a miracle from Arsaviour.

UPDATE

Diaby is fit for the match. See how all my negativity paid off?

Arsenal v. Fulham match preview, plus I get all wonkish on Arsenal’s financials.

Blatter does his Carnack the Magnificent routine.

Good morning lads and ladies… wait… do any women read this blog? I mean, beside my partner who religiously reads the blog because she loves me. Anyone?

Anyway, big match weekend here on the blog. First, the match is being played on Fox Soccer Channel which means that I get to watch the match live here at home, in my skivvy’s. That, in turn, means that you all get to enjoy me liveblogging the match, in my skivvy’s. Then we’ll end the weekend on Sunday with an orgiastic Good, Bad, and Ugly. It will be the Full American this weekend, folks, indulge yourselves!

Ahead of the match our boy Diaby is injured again. I hate to say it, but Arsenal need him healthy, the contrast between Diaby and Song as far as attacking is concerned is very stark indeed and with Fulham pulling in to Emirates and backing the bus in front of goal this evening we need all the attack we can muster.

The good news on the attack front is that Walcott will start full training on Monday, Eduardo is expected to be back for the Burnley match next weekend and perhaps Adebayor the next week for Roma. None of which helps against Fulham.

I do expect Arsaviour to start tomorrow which should give the team a lot more creativity and flair going forward. Quite where he will start is still up in the air, but if I had to guess I’d say on the right, Nasri on the left, and the Song and Denilson pairing in the middle. Personally, I’d rather Arsenal play with the 4-2-3-1 that they worked to great effect against Roma which would mean van Persie up top, Bendtner out right, Arsaviour in the middle, and Nasri on the left. Then at 60 minutes, take off Arsaviour, bring on Vela out left, move Nasri to the middle, and if we’re up a goal, put The Pass Master in on the right.

Now that I’ve said it, Wenger will do none of the above and probably put The Pass Master in from the start and bring Bishcoff off the bench or something. Who knows…

All I know is that I don’t want to sit here and liveblog the same kind of stultifying event I saw last weekend at the Emirates.

Speaking of stultifying, for Fulham’s part, a 0-0 draw is exactly what they are looking for, after all, they have only scored three (3, tres, troi, 三) away goals this season.

THREE AWAY GOALS ALL SEASON.

That little nugget makes Fulham the absolute most defensive away team I can ever remember — even Derby scored 8 away goals last year and that wasn’t because they were playing defensively it’s because they sucked eggs.

So, if you all thought we had a hard time breaking down Sunderland, you’re in for a real “treat” as you get to watch the most anti-football of all anti-football squads.

Maybe it’s the cold medicine but my head hurts just thinking about how 4th place rests on overcoming this mountain of a team, with their mountain of a center half (Brede Hangelaand), and here we are relying on our little tiny corpulent Ruskie. Ohhh…. 1-0 to the Arsenal would be a great result.

While I’m on the topic of fourth place and really the importance of this match, yesterday my Antipodean reader asked how I think the team might not be profitable when Gazidis is assuring fans that Arsenal don’t need Champions League football.

There are several things that lead me to this conclusion. First, if you look at the 2008 full season financials, the amount of profits that Arsenal socked away for that year is just a little over £6m more than their earnings from the Champions League campaign.  Granted, that number is after tax, of which they will no doubt pay less since they earned less and whatnot, but the point remains: Champions League qualification is worth a lot of money, roughly £15m

Now, take a look at this table. Each team’s earnings from live broadcasts, Europe, and their cup runs is detailed. If you remember, last year Everton finished 5th and Villa finished 6th. Notice that difference between Arsenal’s earnings and those two teams: £19m between 4th and 5th place and £22m between 4th and 6th place. The higher you finish in the Premier League, the more exciting your team, the more money you make from television, Europe, and cup runs.

Then there’s gate receipts. With turnover for home games at over £3m per match and Arsenal playing 6 home matches in last year’s CL run, plus some match revenue sharing for some away matches, we could conservatively put that number at £18m for the Champions League run.

Thus, in the worst case scenario, a 6th place finish (we are closer to 6th place than 4th), just in match day, prize money, and television revenues Arsenal will lose nearly  £40m. Which is exactly what Arsenal’s before tax profitability was last year.

If you subtract an inevitable decline in shirt sales, ticket sales, and other concessions that would follow a 6th place finish and the concomitant decline in supporters I think you can see that losing out on 4th place would be a dire situation. That means that either Gazidis is bat-shit nuts, has some special knowledge that the club hasn’t released, or is bullshitting the supporters. I don’t know which, but if I had to guess it would be the last option.

I’ll admit that my numbers might be a bit off, I’m just going by the data that I’m given. But the importance of 4th place cannot be emphasized enough. The captain is gunning for it, van Persie is supposedly holding out on a new deal because we might not make 4th place, and Martin O’Neil is willing to shit on Villa supporters who paid nearly £1000 each to travel to Moscow to secure it. It’s worth a lot of money, Villa are desperate (to the tune of £90m in debt) to secure it, and this is the week that Arsenal need to dig in and secure it.

In little over a fortnight, we’ll know if Arsenal have the goods. Teams are going to play “anti-football” and no team will do that better than Fulham tomorrow. So, while every match is crucial, this match is crucial-er and they need a positive start, or all of the work that Wenger has done over the last ten years might be undone in this one.

With that said, I’ll see you all here tomorrow at 7am for the liveblog. Personally, I’m hoping for a miracle from Arsaviour.

UPDATE

Diaby is fit for the match. See how all my negativity paid off?