Arsenal had won 11 of their last 13 games and it was no doubt that everyone was looking for a win for the team against Fulham. Arsenal was the team on fire going into this match, a lot because of the Flying Dutchman – Robin Van Persie, the most exciting forward in the world today. The team selection was not a surprise because of the number of matches played by the few of the players and the big match against Manchester City on Tuesday in the Carling Cup quarter final.
Arsenal starting lineup:- Szczesny, Djourou, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Song, Ramsey, Arteta, Walcott, van Persie, Arshavin
Fulham starting lineup:- Schwarzer, Baird, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Ruiz, Dembele, Zamora
Arshavin got the much needed starting and we thought the Russian would excel in this game. It was a confident start by Fulham but the first chance of the game in the 6th min for Ramsey but it was easily dealt with by Schwarzer who has been in good form lately. Fulham had come in with a good strategy and that was to defend and they were able to to just that. Due to this the pace of the game was cut and Arsenal was not able to move fast on the pitch. The next beautiful chance came in the 23rd min for Arsenal, again for Ramsey but he was only able to hit the ball high over the bar. At the stroke of half time the real chance of the game came for Mertesacker, but he was only able to head the ball wide from a good free kick taken by Arteta.
When the second half started it was required for Arsenal to break the Fulham midfield to get anything out of the game. But that was not to be and if any of that had to change, some of the tired legs we saw in the first half had to get some rest and change. Then the unthinkable happened and Fulham got the first goal of the game from nowhere. It was an own goal (OG) from Vermaelen and it might have been due to a panic caused by seeing Riise charging into the Arsenal Box.
This was the last thing that Arsenal wanted. But now that they had conceded the goal, Wenger got the necessary changes to the team. He brought in Gervinho and Diaby in the place of Ramsey and Mertesacker. With these changes Song had to move into the central back position and Arteta had to do the holding midfield role. With Gervinho on there was definitely a change in the tempo of the game. The team started to press forward looking for their equalizer. The best chance till then came for Djourou who tried heading into the post but it was not to be because of a wonderful save by the Fulham Keeper. Finally we got the equalizer from a Vermaelen header from yet another beautiful cross from Walcott and the villain turned into a hero for Arsenal, making amends for his earlier mistake.
Arsenal tried pressing for their second but it was all too late and the game ended in a Draw. A lot of us were expecting an easy win for our team and were disappointed with the result. But if you look at the given circumstances and the difficult game that we had on Wednesday we should be happy with the point. Also, we have a quarter final match against Manchester City in the Carling cup on Tuesday where we would see the Manager making a lot of changes because we saw some tired legs today on the pitch.
Now lets look at a different perspective which impressed me from a fan point of view. We saw very different attitude in the team and it was something missing in the early season. In a game like this, ideally you would have seen heads dropping and losing the ball easily but that was not to be. In this game we saw a fight in this team and it was this attitude that helped us to score the goal. And this is exactly want we as fans want to see from our team and we can only hope to see the team getting better.
In the post match interview, when asked if there were tired minds and tired legs after the match on Wednesday, this is what Wenger had to say:
“both, but our spirit was excellent again today , even one nil down we came back, of course disappointed not to make 3 points but after such an intense champions league game of course its difficult to predict how you will be but what was important for us is not to be one nil and would have to won it in the last 20 min, then u have to produce double effort unfortunately we didn’t find second goal but overall u can only congratulate the team for the attitude today.”
On asked about Arshavin’s game, Wenger said
“thats normal you know when you big player you do not play regularly…. recently has not played regularly, i don’t think he had bad game today he suffered a little bit from the fact that we had not our usual flow but the full confidence comes with the number of games u play”
In all we had a wonderful November unlike the seasons before and now all eyes on our game against Machester City in the Carling Cup.
from the AIS Desk