Arsenal 3 – 0 Newcaste, back to form, clean sheet and a positive buzz…

The final score was 3-0 and the score could have easily been more. We started with Toure and Ade restored to the line up and Eboue replacing Walcott on the right of midfield.

Almunia

Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Clichy

Eboue – Denilson - Fabregas – Nasri

Adebayor – Van Persie

We started like we had a point to prove, we came storming out of the blocks and could have been a goal up within the first 5 minutes. William Gallas had a very easy chance from a few yards out, actually less than a few yards, about 1 and a half yards out… somehow blazing over. Kolo Toure had a shot soon after from  about 25 yards which called Given into action.

The goal was coming and eventually it came in the form of a penalty when N’Zogbia handled Ade’s cross into the box. Van Persie, who was yet to score this season. duly dispatched the ball into the back of the net and what a good penalty it was. A goal that the player needed after his debacle of misses midweek.

Arsenal 1 - 0, Van Persie (17)

After the goal, we grew even more in confidence and were competent in defence and fast in attack. Nasri and Clichy have started the season very well on the left and I really hope they both stay fit for the season. Nasri has been a revelation for us so far and his ball retention and overall vision of the game is definitely admirable. He combined well with Cesc who laid the ball onto VP who cut back to Ade, it deserved a finish, but Ade is still “rusty” and it went high and wide.

Eboue replaced Walcott in the line up today to much surprise, but I have to say that the Ivorian is playing much better this season that I’ve ever seen him play in an Arsenal shirt. He played a big part in the second goal, having played a one two with Adebayor, he backheeled the ball into the path of Van Persie who smashed the ball in the back of the net leaving Shay Given standing still.

Arsenal 2 – 0, Van Persie (41)

Newcastle only real chance came after the dying minutes of the first half but Almunia was astute and alert to keep the visiting team out.

The second half started well for Newcastle and a bit of pressure in the first 10 minutes soon rubbed off as we took dominance of the game again and it wasn’t long until we scored the third.

The game was full of fast paced football. Free flowing combinations and a lot of creativity. The third goal summed up our afternoon. Denilson was having one of his better games this season and after winning a header in defence, he continued to run, the ball going out to Nasri who cut inside, drew defenders close, but then passed to Ade. At the same time, Denilson made an over lap on the inside and Ade passed it through to Denilson who calmly tucked it away past the onrushing Shay Given. Sublime goal.

Arsenal 3 – 0, Denilson (59)

Vela came on for Van Persie who was in the wars during the game and will be having an X-ray today on his ankle. Theo came on for Eboue and Alex Song for Denilson.

Walcott’s impact was immediate and kept Newcastle on the back foot. Vela also causing problems and looks very creative, albeit it looked as if he was trying to hard. Expect some exciting football from the Mexican this season.

Nasri showed us that he will challenge Van Persie for free kick duty with an pinpoint attempt with 10 minutes to go. Top left, but Given saved well.

Confidence was definitely restored. We’ve got go away now and win away. But three goals, seven goals in four days and two clean sheets has put a smile on many Arsenal fan’s faces.

If we can pick up a player before the window closes, then maybe, just maybe we could end up top of the table by the end of the season…

Have a good one… more tomorrow…]]>

Match Preview: Arsenal vs Newcastle

Match Details:
Arsenal v Newcastle United
Barclays Premier League, Emirates Stadium
Saturday, August 30, 2008, 17:30

Cesc Fabregas is back in the squad now, having player over an hour in midweek, he should be the architext of Newcastle’s downfall – and he should be paired with Denilson after their decent combination against Twente midweek.

The back line is a difficult one, so far even time Djourou has played, he has looked solid and we’ve kept a clean sheet – not to say that it’s Toure fault that we lost, of course we know it was Gallas… but this means we’re not 100% sure who will start at the back.

Ade should be restored to the line up after his midweek break and hopefully will score his first premier league goal of the season, and he should be paired with Van Persie, despite his inability to hit the net on Wednesday.

This is the line up, I expect tomorrow:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Sagna
Right Back
Toure or Djourou
Centre Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Walcott
Right Wing
Denilson
Midfielder
Cesc
Midfielder
Nasri
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
Van Persie
Support Striker
 

And on the bench, I’d expect Fabianksi, one of Toure or Djourou, Song, Eboue, Ramsey, Vela and Bendtner.

Luckily for us, Martins is injured and Damien Duff and Mark Viduka have groin injuries so Newcastle may choose the following team, Given, Beye, Taylor, Coloccini, Enrique, Gutierrez, Butt, Guthrie, N’Zogbia, Ameobi, Owen.

It’s a far better team than last season, with Owen back and new signings Coloccini and Gutierrez impressive.

Okay, that’s a rap for today – til tomorrow…

Come on you reds!]]>

Are We Close To Signing Blaise Matuidi?

But if rumours are to be believed, then we’re not too far away from signing Blaise Matuidi. We spoke about this earlier in the year, but then again, we spoke about a lot of random rumours earlier this year.

The link is soft, but it’s appeared in quite a few newspapers in their “rumours” columns.

So, there is a picture of the boy in action. He’s a 21-year midfielder. Quite creative but at the same time quite combatitive. Similar to Flamini, Matuidi could be a good signing.

You have to wonder if Matuidi is signed, why this signing wasn’t made a few weeks ago, but none the less, Arsene will be Arsene and have his strange ways of doing things…

Match preview of Arsenal vs Newcastle next…]]>

Champions League Group G: Arsenal, Porto, Fenerbahce & Dinamo Kiev : The Group of Death

group of death.

Group A: CHELSEA, AS Roma, Bordeaux, Cluj

Group B: Inter, Werder, Panathinaikos, Anorthosis

Group C: Barcelona, Sporting, FC Basel, Shakhtar

Group D: LIVERPOOL, PSV, Marseille, Atletico

Group E: MAN UTD, Villarreal, CELTIC, Aalborg

Group F: Lyon, Bayern, Steaua, Fiorentina

Group G: ARSENAL, FC Porto, Fenerbahce, Dinamo Kiev

Group H: Real Madrid, Juventus, Zenit, Bate

More reaction coming soon…]]>

Champions League Draw, Today at 5pm UK time… Who will Arsenal get?

The way it works is that there are four pots. One team from each pot will go into a group and except for the same association, you can draw anyone. Therefore we cannot meet Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Internazionale, Liverpool, Olympique Lyon or Barcelona.

Here are the four pots:

Pot One

Manchester United (England)
Real Madrid (Spain)
Chelsea (England)
Internazionale (Italy)
Arsenal (England)
Liverpool (England)
Olympique Lyon (France)
Barcelona (Spain)

Pot Two

Bayern Munich (Germany)
PSV Eindhoven (Holland)
Villarreal (Spain)
AS Roma (Italy)
FC Porto (Portugal)
Werder Bremen (Germany)
Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)
Juventus (Italy)

Pot Three

Marseilles (France)
Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia)
Steaua Bucharest (Romania)
Panathinaikos (Greece)
Bordeaux (France)
Celtic (Scotland)
Basel (Switzerland)
Fenerbahce (Turkey)

Pot Four

Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)
Fiorentina (Italy)
Atletico Madrid (Spain)
Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine)
CFR 1907 Cluj (Romania)
Aalborg BK (Denmark)
Anorthosis Famagusta (Cyprus)
FC BATE Borisov (Belarus)

As you can see, it’s a tough draw, whatever the outcome.

I’d say the worst group we could get is:

Arsenal
Bayern Munich
Marseille
Athletico Madrid

and the easiest would be

Arsenal
Weder Bremen
Basel
FC BATE Borisov

You can watch it here… or wait until I’ve had a chance to digest…]]>

Match Report: Arsenal 4 – 0 Twente: Nasri, Cesc shine, Eboue is getting worse… Good victory, draw on Friday…

Before I review the match, I'd like to express my concern at one player, namely Emmanuel Eboue. I cannot for the life of me figure out what he brings to the team. He is problematic in defence, so Arsene has moved him away from the back line into midfield. In midfield, he can't really maintain his positional sense. On the right he often finds himself too far back or too central. He doesn't close the opposition down and can't seem to tackle that well. When he has possession, he either loses it or fails to do anything productive with it. So, the conclusion is, that Eboue knows something so unimaginable about Arsene Wenger that Arsene has to play him for fear of it coming out… what is it? Answers / comments welcome on this one. It’s truly baffling.

Okay… on to the game, and we rested Toure and Ade and brought back Cesc, so the line up looked like this:

Almunia

Sagna – Djourou – Gallas – Clichy

Walcott – Denilson – Cesc – Nasri

Bendtner – Van Persie

Some sensible decisions from the manager. Cesc needed some match practice, Djourou played well against West Brom and deserved to be kept in the team ahead of Toure, who’s a little bit match unfit. And Ade’s been awful so far, so Bendtner deserved his chance too.

So, by now, you’re probably aware, it was 4-0 to the Arsenal. A good performance, a good scoreline, but in all honesty, still a bit sluggish and off the pace. The score line does flatter us a little, but overall, Twente, despite their amazing support and determination had no final third.

We laboured a little in the beginning, but were always in control. Cesc’s influence quite evident – it seem to have lifted the whole team. Robin Van Persie was the guilty party in the first half missing three glorious opportunities. But we took the lead through Nasri (27 mins)when he danced through the area, faked to shoot, and shifted left of two defenders to slot home from the far left to the far right… Yes, that’s his second goal in as many games at the Emirates, a good start to the campaign from the young lad. Bendtner was equally guilty, especially when he found himself one on one with the keeper, only to seem to have lost the ball and subsequently lose possession. Theo’s pace was electrifying and the Twente left back couldn’t deal with it. He should have gone down when he was tackled in the area, but he didn’t and Van Persie failed to do anything with his cross.

Half time, 1-0.

The second half was a little better in terms of fluidity and Theo’s decent performance in the first half continued into the second. To the dismay of the crowd, Eboue was brought on for Nasri. (See above for reasons)… albeit Nasri may have complained of a stomach ache too..

A good run by Gallas (52) brought us the second. He’s game so far had been decent, trying to prove himself after his mistake – which he admitted in the match programme. “Yes, it was my mistake and I take full responsibility”… okay, thanks, but that doesn’t help us get three points back, does it William? He made a surging run into the final third and latched onto a parry by their keeper after Nicklas Bendtner shot from the left hand side. Right time, right place.

The wind was taken out of our opposition and Theo amongst others started to have a few chances. Young Theo (66 mins) scored the third after a lucky break and some good play to cut inside. Ignoring the claims from Eboue to pass, neatly finished it off into the back of the net.

Just to make a good performance a rout, Nikki Bendtner (89) scored after a fumbled peice of control and a nice back heel by Denilson, tucking the ball past the keeper from 6 yards.

Full time, 4-0

Arsene said after the game:

“We want to play with the best and to do that, we had to qualify for the group stage. It was a big mental test. The response was clear – togetherness, focus and efficiency. The whole team was sharper and physically much better than on Saturday and that is why it made it easier. He (Cesc) brings calm and confidence to the side and overall we had a good balance in the side. Cesc could have stayed on, he always wants to play, but he was probably more disappointed that they did not have a go at us.”

On Walcott he said:

“I have always said we have to be patient with him. I felt he can be decisive in any game against anybody, if we can get him in.  He has improved his first touch and his link-up play, which was vital for his progression. But the way he finished his goal, you cannot teach that, he has that naturally.”

The positives were definitely the performances of Djourou, Cesc, Nasri and Walcott, 4 of our youngest players. Song came on late on and looked like a proper defensive midfielder, felt good to see someone sitting in front of the back four…

Just before I go, in other news, we’ve been heavily linked with Jonathan de Guzman. A player likened to Hargreaves. This story broke a few days ago, but I didn’t think it was too substantial, but today’s it’s hit the newspapers and Guzman is quoted as saying:

“My dream clubs are Arsenal and Barcelona. If clubs of that stature are interested in you then you cannot say no. ‘I’m certainly open to interest from Arsenal and from what I hear Feyenoord are happy to hear from them as well.”

So let’s see what Arsene has in store. I wouldn’t hold my breath. He said we “sign a replacement for Flamini before the second leg (Twente)” which we didn’t…

Tomorrow sees the Champions League draw, so I hope to preview it before hand… Til then…]]>

Arsenal vs Twente Match Preview, Champions League 2nd Leg (Agg 2-0)…

Today sees the return of Cesc Fabregas, and it's clear now more than ever how much our team needs him. He's crazy to think we're so reliant on one player. He does have a presence, a commitment, a desire to win and more importantly this is infectious on his team-mates.

Cesc has spoken about the Champions League:

“We don’t have to be afraid of anyone. I think we’ve seen in the last few seasons we can beat anybody so you have to be positive. You have to believe that you can do it again, at least make it to the final. I’ve played a few finals now and you can see that anything can happen, you can play well you can play not well, you can win and lose. Certainly you have to make it there, I think we have the quality and experience to do it and we are looking forward to it.”

Cesc desprately needs a partner. After Inler rejected the move to the Emirates, Daniel De Guzman from Feyenord is the latest name to be mentioned. Some of the fans actually don’t believe Arsene will buy, despite him saying that he is “definitely” going to bring in one more player.

Ahead of today’s game against FC Twente, their boss Steve McC said:

“I think one result and it’s called a crisis in a top four club; that is what Arsenal are. They don’t get beat very often so when they do the scrutiny is more on them. I have seen them play in pre-season and there has been some great football. With Arsenal I think, because the way they play and the type of football they play, they cannot be 100 per cent all the time. On their day they are capable of taking apart anyone. I always used to say ‘don’t judge over two games’. Arsenal have quality in their side, they have injured players to come back -  Fabregas will make a big difference – so crisis at Arsenal? No!”

And Walcott thinks we can play better than the first leg…

“It was our first game so they were very sharp and it took us by surprise I think. It was very difficult to go there. The fans were behind them and they treated it as their cup final. They were very strong in their man-for-man marking. We did not play our best but we got a good result. Hopefully we’ll perform better at home. The best thing is to think of it as 0-0, keep a clean sheet then we are through. But this club needs to play Champions League football.”

I’m unsure of Arsene’s thinking. At 2-0, the tie is virtually won, but can he afford to rest some of his first team? I’m not 100% sure. Reading the news today, I’ve heard he could drop the first team and add in players such as Bendtner and Vela to see “what they’re made of” but in others, I’ve heard he will play exactly the same team as Saturday so they can prove themselves?

In all honesty, I think we’ll play a similar team to Saturday but with Eboue dropped and Cesc coming in. 20 minutes at the end would suit him better, but I think he may start…

Probable line up:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Sagna
Right Back
Toure
Centre Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Walcott
Right Wing
Denilson
Midfielder
Cesc
Midfielder
Nasri
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
Van Persie
Support Striker
 

The bench should be made up of: Fabianski, Eboue, Djourou, Song, Ramsey, Vela and Bendtner.

Just a quick reminder: we have Rosicky, Eduardo, Diaby and Silvestre all injured. That’s another 3 midfielders potentially if you classify Eduardo as one all to come back soon…

I’m off to the game later today, so I hope we will put on a grand performance…

Speak later…]]>

Kolo & William It just doesn't work… Inler says No!

Okay, so today is a chance to look at our defence. Many people including Arsene Wenger himself have lambasted the Toure-Gallas partnership. Arsene said last year that it was a struggle for them to deal with long balls, and we've seen them both have problems recently. The main problem is that they're pretty much the same player. Similar height, similar pace, similar position play.

You have to think why Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure worked so well all those years ago. It was because Sol would attack the ball whereever, whenever it was. He would be first to the ball, regardless of who was in the way. Toure had more pace and could recover and get the second ball. It was the Sol Campbell era that made Toure the defender that he is today.

Take a look at the Philippe Senderos and Kolo Toure partnership which took us to the final of the Champions League. Senderos is again a player who attacks the ball - a die hard defender - a no nonsense defender. Get rid of the ball at all costs.

Of course, Philippe Senderos has moved to Milan this season on a season long loan. Why? To gain experience from the team which is the most renounced for it’s defensive play? Why? Because of the continual errors of last season.

Arsene spoke of the transfer:

“Senderos has gone to Milan today and is not available anymore. He will go to Milan. He will complete a medical today. The thinking [behind the move] is that at the moment he doesn’t get the games here and that he can play somewhere and remain in a top level club. Without losing him we want him to play. It (whether the transfer will become permanent) is not decided yet.

I’d agree to some extent, but I would have rather seen him stay and Silvestre not come in. Senderos does offer us something and it seems like that something is missing in the Kolo-William partnership.

I really do hope Arsene looks at Johan Djourou as a serious alternative for either Gallas or Toure in the central defensive position. Kolo for defensive midfield anyone? Kolo along side Cesc in the middle of the park? Maybe that will happen now as Inler has rejected Arsene’s offer. His agent saying today:

“We have decided that Inler remains in Udinese. Any player would want to play for Arsenal, of course, but for Inler this may be perhaps a little early. Maybe a season too early.”

My view is that Djourou alongside Toure would be ideal. But I’ve never been a fan of Gallas. With Diaby and Cesc in midfield. Although Eboue has played there recently, I can’t see that his long term position is defensive midfield. So either Toure moves up, Djourou comes in or we’re going to suffer in defence this season.

We all know that I feel that Alonso is not the right person to partner Cesc… Does Arsene have another player up his sleeve? Hmm, only time will tell…

Arsenal vs FC Twente preview tomorrow… Cesc may play, he’s in the squad…]]>

Monday Round Up, Senderos moves to Milan, Arsene still not close to signing anyone…

here and here, so I’m not going to this time, I’m going to be positive.

A quick quote from Arsene on potentially buying someone and our performance.

“When you lose a game the solution is not always to buy. Did we play at our best? I say no and so we have to look at why? We had problems to win our first few games last year but we won them. This year we did not win – that is the reality. We had 60 minutes to come back on Fulham and we did not do it. Is that down to Fulham’ s quality or the fact we were not good enough? Only the future will tell us that.”

Okay, before we look at the positive, some transfer news which sees Philippe Senderos on the way to Milan to join ex-gunner Flamini on loan. He’s set for a medical (which I believe is today) and the daily mail reports:

Philippe Senderos is set to join AC Milan from Arsenal on a season-long loan with the Italians having the option to make the deal permanent for a fee believed to be between £5.5million and £6.3m. The Switzerland defender is set for a medical at the San Siro on Tuesday morning, bringing an end to an often error-prone five-year stay at the north London club.

Okay, so let’s be positive… Adebayor, you start:

“Of course, we cannot afford to lose another game. As players, as a club playing for the title, we don’t want to lose a single game. But we have lost, the defeat is there. We cannot change that. We just have to keep on going, try to be focused a little better and achieve things. Now the title becomes a bit difficult, as we have lost the second game of the season. I think losing here is going to be the best warning we can be given. We can’t think we are untouchable.”

So, let’s think about this. We’ve had our warning – we’re not untouchable – why would be think we were untouchable anyway, so trophy in how many years, Ade? Hmmm.

But we can regroup and try harder. We’ve got the ability no doubt. Nasri has already proven a good player in his two Premiershipi games this season. There will be more to come from young Theo – we all saw his performance against Liverpool last season and Van Persie just needs to get the ball over the wall and maybe one of those free kicks would go in. As Ade grows his hair back, the goal will become bigger and the wood work will disappear. And of course Cesc is back – starting Wednesday – to add some creativity into midfield. Cesc and Denilson against Twente? Diaby to return in 2-3 weeks. A defensive midfielder signed by the end of the week too?

Crisis, what Crisis?

Positive enough? Twente preview tomorrow… time to get some pre-back to work work done…

Til tomorrow…]]>

Cesc you need a workhorse next to you, Alonso is not Flamini…

I've given my opinion on all things Fulham related yesterday, but today we need to concentrate on who will join Cesc in midfield. I've been watching highlights of the recent seasons, and glimpses of Diaby make me believe he will definitely be a player who can make things happen this season... if he stay fit of course, but the back up behind Diaby, is frankly too short. Song (who is now a defender), Eboue (who is a right mid / right back), Bischoff (who isn't fit) and... Denilson (who plays central midfield but not defensive midfield) are no reliable. Neither is the man himself, Diaby. He's not been one month without injury as long as I can remember.

So, where does that leave us? Gilberto, Flamini and Diarra have all gone and we simply haven't replaced them. We've had all summer to do so, and we've yet to sign someone. If / when we do, the question will be why we didn't sign this player a month before so we could start the season settled.

Many people have been calling for the signing of Xabi Alonso, but he's not the player we need. Cesc and Denilson should battle it out for the attacking midfield position, with Rosicky and Nasri quite able to play there. The defensive midfield position doesn't need an Xabi Alonso, he's too similar to Cesc. He's a good passer, but he's not a workaholic nor does he have pace. You've seen in the last season with Liverpool that he went from first choice to third choice behind the likes of Gerrard and Mascherano. Of course, Gerrard is a given, and if you want Cesc to excel, you have to do the same - put a "Mascherano" behind him. Put a real defensive midfielder there - like a Flamini, Gilberto, Diarra, Vieira. Some one who doesn't stop running, someone who can tackle and break up play.

Sorry, but Alonso is not that player.

Apparently this quote means that Fabregas wants Xabi at Arsenal:

“Xabi is my friend of course, but apart from that he is a great player. He has won the Champions League and won a European Championship – and he is only 26.”

Realistically, it’s a no-go. Can you see Cesc and Alonso in the middle. It’s too attacking. Liverpool are willing to sell because they’ve got Mascherano and Gerrard. Yes he is 26, but a midfield of Nasri, Cesc, Alonso and Rosicky (when fit) is way too attacking. Milan have Gattuso behind Kaka and Pirlo for a reason. Yes, Pirlo plays deep like Alonso, but the terrier is Gattuso.

I really can’t see Arsene buying Alonso, I think he will buy a terrier – who? I don’t know. Options are running out, many people have been bought now. I hope Arsene has something up his sleeve, I really do…

In other news, young Le Mans starlet Gervinho has reiterated his desire to move to Arsenal. Read more here, but he won’t be signed – not this season at least.

I don’t mean to be negative, far from it, and a good signing this week followed by a good win against Twente will cheer me up.

I’ll leave you with another Cesc quote which did cheer me up…

“For me, Arsenal is Arsenal and this club has something special that no others have. We have to take care of it, that’s why you have to be intelligent in your decisions. I have friends in Spain and Italy and they speak to me about other clubs and I know I’m privileged to be where I am and I don’t want to lose it. You see very few teams that play the way we do. I enjoy the way we play. I came here when I was 16 and I feel it’s my home.”

Til tomorrow.]]>

Fulham 1 – 0 Arsenal: A few issues must be solved…

Don't get me wrong, I've been surprised by Eboue's recent form in pre-season and have to say that he had one of best games against West Brom last Saturday. However, to play the defensive midfield position requires a certain discipline and positional sense. The central midfield partnership is one that needs to gel well in order for the team to play well, it's the engine room. The creation starts from the middle and the defenders are protected by their midfield.

The Toure-Gallas partnership was restored today and the same questions have to be asked defensively. Can these two players play together? Do they compliment each other or is their lack of physical presence a problem for us? Djourou and Senderos do seem to be better in the air, but Toure and Gallas have experience in abundance. It's a tough one. Toure was substituted for Song today, does that mean that Toure isn't fit? Why didn't Djourou come on, especially after his good performance the week before? Questions that can only be answered by Arsene. There is a little bit of worry in me about what's going on. Too much change and not enough focus on the targets in hand. We need a defensive midfielder, without a doubt. We do have Cesc and Diaby to come back and when both fit, they will make a huge difference. The tenacious expose of Flamini is much missed and potentially only Diaby will fit the bill.

The game lined up as follows:

Almunia

Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Clichy

Walcott – Eboue – Denilson – Nasri

Adebayor – Van Persie

After Ade’s lacklustre performance against West Brom last week, many people thought he may be rested with Bendtner taking his place, but Ade started and continued in his 2006 form, which as we all know wasn’t that great.

Brede Hangeland scored the only goal of the game for a Fulham side which looked decent, but a side we should have beaten. A Jimmy Bullard cross wasn’t handled by the defence and the giant Fulham defender stabbed home what turned out to be the winner.

Arsene has a few quotes after the game, and the first was:

“They had a corner and they took advantage from it. That illustrates the first half. We were not sharp enough. We were not first enough on the ball. The corner showed that and we were punished. When you are focussed you can stop them scoring like that from the middle of the goal.”

Early on, John Pantsil challenged Eboue and was lucky to escape a red card on a day where Fulham adopted the physical approach and we seemed fazed by it. It was one of those games where we were so lacklustre, it’s hard to pick out individual moments where we were close. It was an inevitable miss every time we went forward, with Ade missing everything possible. Van Persie still seemed rusty. Theo Walcott looked strangely subdued and our midfield definitely wasn’t firing on any cylinder. Young Samir Nasri was again impressive, and that’s definitely a positive note. Our substitutes were Bendtner for Walcott, Song for Toure.

“After that we tried to come back in the second half but I feel we were too nervous in the last 25 minutes and wanted to create on our own rather than keeping our vision around the box. That is we missed a lot today. We lacked a bit more quality in our passing. We you look at the possession we had and what we did with it that is always a sign it is only down power but vision and technical quality. That was there today. I don’t know why. You have to credit to Fulham as well. You need to keep a balance. When I brought on Bendtner we already had Van Persie, Nasri and Adebayor. You needed to win the ball back so you needed to keep three midfielders.”

And finally Arsene talked about the defensive mistakes and the focus on Wednesday.

“It was the kind of game where you could not afford to make a mistake and we made a massive one. It was a game where if you get to half-time at 0-0 then you would win the game. That is the biggest regret I have. The result is there and we have to cope with it. We have a big game on Wednesday night and we have to respond with a top class performance because was we did today was just not good enough.”

A few issues to be resolved, a few questions to be asked… Arsene, a few days to think hard before the transfer window closes… a few days for Ade to get his sharpness back. Maybe the 31st August (now 1st Sept) will be a useful point to know who’s in and who’s out and what we have to do this season…

More tomorrow…]]>