Sorry about the late blog today, I had some kind of problem with my router this morning and I spent the last hour repairing that. Since that took me an hour, my daughter woke up and well… no need to explain further, let’s just get on with it…
Arsenalist has both the goal and match of the day highlights for free, but if you’re an ATVO subscriber, they have the whole match available for download.
ESPNSoccernet: Robin van Persie let his football do the talking with a well-executed second-half winner as Arsenal beat Fulham 1-0 at Craven Cottage – where young Gunners goalkeeper Vito Mannone had an inspired match.
Telegraph: He has the name and the looks of someone more at home in The Sopranos and Fulham will certainly feel there was something criminal about how the 21 year-old from Lombardy, the third-choice Arsenal goalkeeper who has, until now, been a bit flaky, pulled off the kind of display that can shape a career.
Blogger at the Match
Goonerholic: Fulham remains a real football day out, I am delighted to report. Where else can you park your backside at a pub table overlooking the Thames (morning Tim!) for a refreshing pint? A bit of food and a stroll through the park down the towpath. There is no ‘atmosphere’ or ‘edge’ here. This is the place to bring kids, and quite a few have.
Mouth before the Match
Danny Murphy is a former Spud, a man who since he was replaced at Liverpool has spent the remainder of his entire career being beaten by his big brother just up the road. So, it’s no surprise that he felt the need to shoot his mouth off before the match. Speaking to the World’s Least Reliable News Source he needed to remind everyone that Arsenal don’t have Patrick Vieira anymore and that means that Arsenal are no longer feared.
We’ve all heard that before and… it’s true. You gather fear from your opponents by winning things: winning games, winning trophies, etc. And how do you win trophies? You win trophies when you get 3 points on off days. So, for me, the quote of the day from Danny Murphy isn’t about how we aren’t feared but rather this:
I do respect them now and they can turn us over if they play well and we don’t. But they were simply better quality in years gone by. I can’t remember a weak link in that team. They were solid at back, big, strong lads, all good athletes in that team.
Hmmm… what about when you play well and we don’t? Can we turn you over then, Danny?
It seems like we can, because we have quality at every position on this club. Supporters tend to look at Bendtner and complain about his wastefulness, but it could be worse, we could have Bobby Zamora!
That’s just it, on a night when Bendtner misses chances, when Cesc has an off night, when Diaby has a nightmare, when Arshavin looked jaded, and when Rosicky is still gaining match fitness, Arsenal needed just one moment of brilliance and for Mannone to have a great night to secure three points.
Man of the Match
Alex So… just kidding, this is a unanimous choice and for good reason. I think Wenger sums up the performance best:
I believe we will give him 10 out of 10 because everything he did was right. For a goalkeeper that is most important. He stopped everything he had to stop, didn’t make any wrong decisions and overall he has shown he has the potential to be a very good goalkeeper.
During the liveblog I made mention of David Seaman’s famous save (and match) against Sheffield United in the 2003 FA Cup Semi-Final and how I thought Mannone’s performance last night was equal if not better than Seaman’s. I’m not trying to jump the gun on this kid, because I agree with Wenger that consistency is key to greatness, but I think it’s OK to celebrate a magnificent performance and the comparison stands. I’m not saying that he’s the next Seaman, he’ll need at least a year to grow a proper pony tail, just that last night was the best I’ve seen from an Arsenal keeper since Seaman made this save:
After the match, the boss said that for the next match Mannone is Arsenal’s #1. Too bad for Almunia, but Vito earned it on the back of yesterday’s performance.
“Chocolate leg” my ass. I can’t remember the last time Robin scored with his left leg, can you? Anyway, it was a moment of magic from one of the few players on this team who have it in them to produce magic.
As I have already mentioned, Arshavin had a bit of an off night but more concerning than a single off night is that there’s obviously some kind of problem with him and Clichy. In the attacking third Clichy doesn’t seem to be able to ready Arshavin and defensively, Arshavin, well, to be frank, Arshavin doesn’t do defense. Especially in a 4-3-3, everyone needs to defend and work hard, even the Czar of Anfield. In the pre-match interview he seemed full of energy and ready to go but yesterday he looked just a bit listless, so maybe we can put his lack of defense down to that.
Cesc too had a poor game, but I’m putting that down to the fact that Arshavin and Diaby’s poor matches (more on that in a second) allowed the Fulham midfield to overrun and harass Cesc all match. Plus, you can’t really say a man had a bad match when he set up the game winning goal, can you?
I bet there wasn’t a single Arsenal fan who didn’t wish that Denilson was healthy, unfortunately, he isn’t. In fact, Denilson won’t be back until at least the 17th when Arsenal play Birmingham.
That means that for the time being, Diaby is what we got. As much as I wish it wasn’t true Rosicky is not ready, crusted as he is with a thick scale of rust. Rambo is not ready, crusted as he is with a thick layer of inexperience. So, we got Diaby and I’m going to support him as long as we have him.
Here’s my only complaint(s)/suggestions:
- Track back, EVERY PLAY.
- I don’t mean jog, I mean run back with as much intensity as you run forward
- Now that you’ve tracked back remember, when you have the ball in your defensive 3rd don’t fuck around with the ball. GET IT OUT. Cesc can fuck around with the ball, you? No. Stop it.
That’s it, three simple rules. I don’t care if every pass you make is wrong, if you do those three simple things, then you’ll be aces in my book.
Win pretty, lose pretty, win ugly, lose ugly, what order would you put those? I think a win is a win and we should always be happy with a win. Some folks won’t be happy until we win every match 6-1. Sorry but this isn’t playstation. Fulham are a damn good team, well organized, and they will fight for all 100 minutes so a 1-0 win is a damn good result.
It’s an even better result when you take into account the fact that Diaby had a nightmare, that Arshavin looked rusty, and that Cesc had to carry the midfield load.
Yesterday’s result proved that this team just needs one or two stellar performances and we can win. Hopefully they can carry that belief forward and grind out more wins, because we’ll need that belief when we go to play those famous “committed Northern teams.”