Fulham 0-1 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Good to see Cesc Fabregas excited about a goal!

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…

Match Video

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.

Match Reports

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.

The Good

“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.

The Bad

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?

The Ugly

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:

  1. Track back, EVERY PLAY.
  2. I don’t mean jog, I mean run back with as much intensity as you run forward
  3. 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.

Conclusions

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.”

21 Comments on Fulham 0-1 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

  1. Debatable on the best saves since Spunky, Lehmann made a cracker in the 2nd round of the Champions league against Real Madrid and a great one against Newcastle at St James Park. Im still maintaining Mannone was very lucky last night, Liege has been very quickly forgotten…call me cynical and pessimistic (i regularly come close to winning that award at my local’s Crimbo dinner) but i seem to remember Alex Manninger bein our great saviour 11 years ago and then he just disappeared and turned up in Italy 3 seasons ago…Oh and i near forgot Mad Jens penalty save against Villarreal….oh and one at Old Toilet in 2006

    • Quite. Mannone has had two games when he was wobbly (to put it kindly) and one when he was brilliant. Fabianski has also had a few brilliant games and some shockers. That’s what young keepers usually do; they’re inconsistent, so don’t let’s assume Mannone will be equally good tomorrow and then, when he isn’t, start howling for Vowel-less (who also had a very good game last week). I’m not saying Mannone isn’t talented – if he wasn’t we wouldn’t have given him a new contract last year – just that it’s rare for a young keeper to do well all the time. But that said, I hope Almunia’s bad hair cut takes a while to grow out – my quess as to why he’s not playing: I don’t believe in this flu – and Mannone gets a few games while our fixtures are reasonably easy. He needs the practice.

      Yes, I have a soft spot for Jens. He was a disaster on occasions but the best keepers usually are?

  2. Mannone the man; godfather of all goalkeepers played a blinder, can he maintain that kind of form though?

    Great’chocolate leg’ goal from RvP, maybe what he needs to start regular scoring in the EPL.

    Certainly many of our number looked jaded. Perhaps they have caught something from Almunia.

    Chelsea looked poor, MancsUntied looked average, and Liverpiddle pasted Hull like they should be pasted, but then Jimmy’s junior school team could paste them.

    Anyway, bring on Olympiassache.

    Viva!

  3. Diaby’s habit of fuckin around with the ball have brought us lots of chances and goals. The 1st goal against Liege was the most recent example. Know what he is good at, and support 100%. Your positive mental vibes will bring forth positive results.

  4. “this isn’t playstation”

    I just said almost exactly the same thing on a couple of other, more moany, blogs 🙂 If people expect FIFA’09 every week, they clearly have no idea about how football really works. Obviously the worst thing AW could have done was to put the Invincibles together! (NB: joke) This was a good game to win, ugly and narrowly. More please.

  5. My perspective on the Fulham win. Let me start by reminding all of all those Lampard last minute deflected goal wins as Chelsea ‘grind’ their way to titles. I’ll also remind all how those title winning Chelsea teams had Terry heading in a lot of goals back when he could still jump. Those title winning teams had a GK who could pull a save or two out of his a**. All we’re lacking is the ‘dozer’ CF but you can see some similarities, can’t you? 🙂

    We didn’t win 6-1, 3-1, 5-2 or 5-0 yesterday but considering our form and the opponent who wouldn’t lay down, we did just fine. We also didn’t lose 4-2 or 2-1, so be thankful.

    • Yes, Fulham are usually hard to break down, and from what I heard on the radio we’d have lost 5-1 if Mannone hadn’t been so good.

  6. A memo to Xerez: are you Osasuna? No. Then you better get that prescription filled that prevents hallucinating about Vela.

  7. a win’s a win and yes you are right, i think yesterday we were all wishing for the return of denilson. diaby a holding midfielder? gimme a break! if not for manonne, the scoreline might have been very different. song has been doing well but his lack of pace worries me. also, maybe it’s time we start giving more games to gibbs. clichy needs to step up his performance because he has been giving us jack squat for offensively. gibbs needs experience and needs to work on his defence but he already has put on better offensive performances than we would ever expect from clichy.

  8. Good job Tim.

    Any win, ugly or pretty, is a WIN. After Arsenal mastered the art of 1 – 0 wins, Chelsea learned the art and became champions. Nobody bemoans their lack of pretty footbal. But if Arsenal wins by her old method, everyone suddenly thinks that Arsenal has lost it (whatever their IT means). We were better than ManUre at Old Trapshit, yet we lost. We played better than ManTheOtherOne, yet we lost to craziness. Now we win and some still cry foul. Well, I don’t care. We have 3 points, Cest fini.

    As for you Xerez or whatever name they call you, not you or any-club-else is qualified to get Vela. Don’t even dream it. You may nightmare it though. Plunkers.

  9. Bendtner: someone said yesterday he should play as central striker. No he shouldn’t. We tried that on and off for almost two seasons, and he couldn’t score. On the wing, he’s at least doing some useful work and there’s nothing to stop him shooting in the unlikely event he makes the right runs and his teammates pick him out. That they don’t speaks volumes. But there’s a diagram in the Guardian showing his work rate and pass completion which is really excellent. Leave him on the wing till he starts scoring. Till that happens, he’s just a waste of space in the centre.

    We announced record profits today.

  10. Vito made some great saves. Unfortunately a few of them were pushed into the danger area, although this is just a minor criticism. I’m sure in time he will push them around the post, rather than giving the strikers a second chance.

  11. http://www.sportspromedia.com/notes_and_insights/_a/arsenal_money_rolling_in_as_club_releases_financial_results/?utm_source=Syndication+Websites&utm_campaign=Syndication+Websites&utm_medium=syndication_websites

    Memo to Usmanov: Can your bankers and accountants dispute the facts? Now go f**k off.

    Memo to Adebayor: “…they sold me because they needed the money”.
    Fact: they sold you to get rid of of your disruptive a**. So if the fans don’t love you, most of your team mates don’t love you and Wenger doesn’t ‘love’ you, then your sorry a** has to go and that hurts, doesn’t it?

    Memo to the British media: never let the facts get in the way of another Arsenal ”in financial ruins smear story.

    Memo to Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, West Ham U, Portsmouth, AC Milan, Real Madrid: Professor Arsene Wenger will be teaching a remedial class on Football Financial Management 99 in the summer of 2010.

    • @ctpa, As a special treat, those students who are need of help w/ preparing accurate financial statements for Uefa and are in good standing w/ their tuition fees can receive help form an adjunct professor. Please send your financial materials for review to: Butner Federal Correction Facility, Raleigh, NC, USA, Attn: Mr. Bernie Madoff. Be sure to include stamped, self-address envelopes.

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