The frustrations still rumble on after the Fulham defeat. For someone who made the trip across London, I’m still replaying a lot of the game in my head and asking plenty of questions. Make no mistake it was a bad defeat that was very avoidable. Going into the game I had said that we needed to have an undefeated January, 3 away games, home to United and the start of the FA Cup. Game 1, defeat. Great.
How? Why? Who to blame? What now? Where from here?
A game of two havles (sort of). Arsenal were in total control in the first half. Some great passing play and ball control meant goals looked inevitable. After a number half attempts, Arsenal did get one from an unlikely source when Koscielny nodded in from Ramsey cross after our corner wasn’t properly cleared. 1-0. Arsenal continued to push but they rarely troubled Stockdale in the Fulham goal. There was a strong penalty appeal when Senderos tripped Gervinho. The referee waved this and many Arsenal freekick appeals throughout the game away.
The second half was a different story. Arsenal either took their foot off the gas pedal or they ran out of gas after a tough schedule, either way Arsenal were a pale shadow of the team in the first half. While we huffed and puffed, the Fulham team grew in confidence and sensed at least a goal. Their confidence grew further when Djourou, who had been booked, was sent off for persistent fouling. Still one nil up, Arsenal then folded like a house of cards. The first goal came from Ex-Gooner Sidwell who simply ran into the area to head in on the 85th. I then saw the 3 minutes on the board for injury time. By the time I considered taking a point; Zamora took advantage of a vacant left hand spot in our area and volleyed in the winner.
Everyone’s got an opinion for why. My opinion is that we didn’t rotate enough and an element of complacency kicked in along with the fatigue. After a gruelling few weeks, a few changes would have freshened up the team and given players the opportunity to stake a claim for a spot in the team. We didn’t and this lead to a leggy second half performance. I’m not going to sit here in hindsight and pick out who I would have played instead of whom but if they’re in the squad we should trust them.
Also, this result and outcome has been on the cards for a few weeks. We drew against Fulham and Wolves and got tight victories against Villa and QPR. We have not been our fluent footballing best for a number of weeks.
Who to blame?
Well this is the part that everyone seems to enjoy these days, pointing the finger of blame. Ultimately the buck stops with the manager but I’ve always felt he’s ‘damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t’. To explain my point I take you back to the game against Wigan last season where Wenger made 8 changes and we were undone by an own goal in the last minute. The fans were furious with the boss for making so many changes. Fast forward a year and many were furious for the lack of rotation.
Well it’s January so we can expect signings right? I wouldn’t hold your breath. Henry is set to sign on loan, this will definitely bolster the squad and morale but he must not be the only signing. The next game is Leeds in the FA Cup, rotation is a given. The Swansea game comes almost 2 weeks after the Fulham game. That game now takes on great significance. The main first teamers rested, a tough 3 points is a must.
Where from here?
We need to focus on our results and don’t worry about Chelsea, Liverpool, City, United or Spuds. Let’s get to February with as many points as possible on the board, welcome back Wilshere, Vermaelen, Sagna, Jennikson, Gibbs, Henry and take the rest of the season from there.
There’s nothing else really to report, just keep calm and carry on Gooners.
Feedback welcome on twitter – @Tottz82