Yesterday saw us win away at Craven Cottage and it was one of those good old fashioned ugly wins. I caught the game on BBC radio five as I travelled up north to Birmingham after watching the pre-match on ESPN. A very different experience listening to the game comparably to a stream, live tv or of course going to the actual game… with Graham Taylor not my preferred commenter to listen to… but it kept me very entertained on my travels and was ultimately I was a happy man by the time I got there!
Fulham 0 – 1 Arsenal
Van Persie 52
Despite reports that Theo Walcott was going to return to the squad, we went into the game without him or Eduardo included in the squad. I’m not sure why Eduardo wasn’t included, but we did see Vela on the bench alongside Rosicky so we did have options on the bench if required.
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Song Billong – Diaby
Bendtner – Fabregas – Arshavin
The game itself was a very good spectacle of football… my report comes from the MOTD highlights… which happened to be one of the last games shown!
Mannone was our man of the match and the first major talking point was a fantastic double save from the Italian keeper as he kept out Johnson and then the follow up from Dempsey – albeit it hit the keepers face for the second save. Arshavin was next to have an attempt and some brilliant play by Van Persie and especially Cesc Fabregas put the Russian in – but the ball took a nasty bobble and Arshavin skyed it. Fulham were pressing and Mannone pulled off a great save from Zera with an outstretched arm. That was all I got from MOTD of the first half!
The second half highlights kicked off the the goal coming minutes into the half as Cesc floated the ball into the path of Van Persie, who finished very well with his right foot. But then it was Fulham’s turn to have a go and another brilliant save from Mannone from an Andy Johnson header. Next a Konchesky free kick and a Zamora header and our keeper pulled off another great save.
That’s all we got from MOTD of the second half… I can assure you we played better and had a host of other chances, but between the radio and Match of The Day, that’s all I can report.
Let’s hear from Arsene:
“The three points are the most important thing because we played against a very good Fulham side today. I believe we had problems in the first half, especially to find our game. They stopped us from playing, they played a very good game today – committed, aggressive, well organised. You needed to be special to come out with three points. In the second half we had plenty of opportunities but we took one of them very well after a very good pass from Cesc Fabregas to Robin Van Persie. After that we had many opportunities to score a second goal. We were more dominant in the second half but Fulham always looked dangerous on set pieces, on the counter attack and they did try down to the last second.”
And on the performance of the keeper, he said:
“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. He is goalkeeper No 3 but goalkeeper No 4 is exceptional as well. I believe Wojciech is quality and he has shown that against West Brom and I gave Mannone the advantage because he’s three or four years older and has more experience. Until the next game he is No 1. In this job you have to go from game to game. He has played a fantastic game today and the consistency is the first sign of quality. He kept us in the game in some unbelievable situations. You say that keeper sometimes look unbeatable. Today he looked like he could make the save needed every time. He comes from Italy that means he is a lover of the game. He is a quiet boy but he has outstanding physical qualities and fantastic reflexes. You saw that today. He deeply wants to improve every day. He is passionate about the game.”
It looks like Almunia won’t be back for Tuesday’s game and Mannone will continue in goal. The three points were obviously very important. We’re now 5th in the table and have a game in hand which would put us third. We’ve played two of our four toughest games of the season and we’ll see next weekend when we play Blackburn if we can gain further ground as Liverpool play Chelsea.
Okie dokie… That’s a wrap…
Mannone for England?