Fulham 2 Arsenal 2: Premier League Sayonara
I would’ve published this post yesterday but I had a lot of activities that kept me busy. I’m pleased to say that this is the last match review post I’ll publish till next season at least. All I can look forward to writing is,
“Messi prefers Arsenal to Man City” or “AW has finally secured the services of that die-hard shield wielding center back called Captain America.
AW has endured one of his most disappointing campaigns as Arsenal’s manager. The last time he won the Premier League was in 2004. Before winning the league in 2004, he and Sir Alex Chewie dominated English football as both clubs held hands together to either finish 1st or 2nd. AW crossed the finish line before Sir Chewie in 98’ while he watched his rival win the league 3 times in a row. AW won it again in 02’ but screwed up the next season as his Gunners sold their title winning birthright to Man Utd on the tail end of the 2002/03 campaign. AW and his Invincibles ran riot the next season but Mou-rhino’s emergence in the next campaign saw both AW and Sir Chewie watch Chelsea win their first title since the days John the Baptist baptized Christians in the Jordan River. After 2 successive spells as league winners, Mou-rhino got the boot by that U.S.S.R. dictator that has also given my birthday mate Carlo the boot after Chelsea went on a trophyless campaign.
In the 2007/08 season, Arsenal looked like a side that were good for the title but a series of events that started at St. Andrews saw AW’s men drop to 3rd place despite being at pole position for a very long time. Since then Arsenal has been on a zig-zag like positional league finish with 4th, 3rd and 4th again this season.
AW made changes from the squad that was very disappointing when Villa came to town. Djourou replaced the Squisha while Gibbs retained his place. There were also starts for Diaby, Nasri and Chamakh.
Arsenal hoped that Bolton would enough to make Man City dropped points but it wasn’t to be because that Arab money outfit brushed the Trotters aside. The first real chance of the game came from an unlikely source, Kieran Gibbs. The young bloke did well to rush forward to get on the end of Sagna’s left footed cross but his header was saved by that pre-historic Aussie called Sir Schwarzer.
Arsenal had dropped points and conceded many goals due to self-inflicted wounds. The Fulham game was no different. Just as he was against Stoke, Ramsey was the culprit when he lost possession far up the pitch. The American Clit took the ball and sent it Zamora’s way that had a few touches before teeing up Arsenal trainee Steve Sidwell who slotted the ball past Szczesny’s legs. Arsenal quickly pegged Fulham back through the man that was on everybody’s book to continue his phenomenal goal scoring run. Diaby did well in midfield before executing a quick one-two with Chamakh. As soon as he got the ball, he sent rVp through on goal. rVp’s justified the reason why Football Manager gave him a first touch attribute of 19 by controlling the ball with consummate ease before slotting it past the onrushing Schwarzer.
That was his 9th away goal in a row and his 18th goal in his 17th appearance. If that’s not amazing, then I don’t know what the word amazing means.
A simple throw from the right hand side saw the ball evade everyone before Murphy found himself one on one with Arsenal’s goalie. Szczesny threw himself straight at Murphy and the ball but he missed because it seemed as if Fulham’s captain possessed the same mutant powers with X-Men’s Shadowcat because he just phased through Szczesny as if he wasn’t there. Up stepped Vermaelen to make a last ditch goal saving tackle that was more than enough to make the ball go out of play instead of Arsenal’s net. Sagna then crossed a ball into Fulham’s danger area but former Gunner Phillippe Send Errors justified his Gooner Daily nickname by nodding the ball straight to Nasri but the French man’s technique let him down as he misfired the ball.
Ramsey did well to evade a shit load of Fulham players before getting himself in the way of Chamakh. The Moroccan recovered well to tee up rVp who fed Nasri quickly. The winger sent Sagna through on the right but Arsenal’s Mr. Consistency sent in a disappointing cross that was intercepted easily by Schwarzer.
The second half was livelier than the first with the first noteworthy action a glaring infringement on rVp that was overlooked by the man with the whistle, Mr. Atkinson. Nasri sent Arsenal’s captain for the day a defense splitting through ball Hangeland impeded rVp without any whistle from the ref. This incensed rVp and he went straight to the ref to give him a piece of his mind. This action earned Arsenal’s player of the season a yellow card.
Wilshere moved with the ball and was tackled on the edge of the box. I thought that rVp was going to tee himself up to feed the ball to the birds in the sky but Nasri bestowed the responsibility of taking the free kick on himself. Nasri’s ball went over the wall and curled to the top right corner but Sir Schwarzer bellied his years to pull up a magnificent save. It’s really annoying to know how some goalies pick up form when they’re about to take on Arsenal but at least its pleasing to know that Edwin van der Save has finally decided to hang those his evil gloves that had a knack for making unbelievable saves.
Fulham went 2 up thanks to more atrocious defending by Arsenal FC. The Fulham blokes passed the ball before it got to that tattooed chap known as Greening. His cross evaded Djourou but was very close to the Arsenal goal. I expected Szczesny to dominate his area by going to claim the ball but he stood on his line as Zamora nodded it home from point blank range. There was nothing Vermaelen could do about it. Fulham almost created a 2-goal cushion when the mohawked left back was unmarked as he entered the Arsenal 18-yard box. He hit his body on the turf thereby making every fan wearing White to scream for a penalty but Atkinson was having none of it. As the play went on, Zamora was clear on goal but Szczesny pulled up a good save to keep Arsenal in the game.
Arsenal then had the chance to equalize but it went begging. Nasri did well on the left before feeding rVp who drilled his cross into Fulham’s box. Schwarzer spilled the ball directly in front of Chamakh but the Moroccan showed why he’s a striker bereft of confidence and shy of goals by missing the ball at point blank range. Sagna crossed another ball for rVp but his header went wide.
AW brought on all 3 subs at the same time to ensure that Arsenal would end the season with a draw at least. Walcott, Arshavin and Farmer Eboue came on for Ramsey, Diaby and Gibbs respectively. Djourou started this season on a high but has put up shaky performances in recent times. He almost gifted Fulham a 3rd when he failed to track the ball well when it was in Arsenal’s box. Davies toe poked the ball but it went wide. Fulham then brought up Gera to replace Zamora as they decided to defend their 2-1 lead. Gera spent just 4 minutes on the pitch before earning himself a straight red for a very rash tackle on Vermaelen. Fulham had played 37 Premier League games without getting a player red carded and this was enough to grant them a place in the Europa League through UEFA’s fair play award but Gera’s red will certainly have its ramifications.
Arshavin used his canny nature to create a chance for himself but the diminutive Russian’s shot went wide. With Arsenal staring at a 3rd straight league defeat in a row, Walcott stepped up in the 89th minute with a lovely solo run from the halfway line that ended with a placed finish that hit the post before entering the net. Atkinson did everybody a favour by ending Arsenal’s season with his whistle.
This draw meant that Arsenal has gotten just 12 points from their last 12 games, 2 wins in 13. How pathetic.
Szczesny (6.5) made some saves but should’ve done better when Greening made that cross. Gibbs (6.4) would’ve scored a goal but was disappointing enough to be substituted by a Farmer who plays as a right back. Vermaelen (7.0) put up a very solid performance in defense. Djourou (6.4) was quite shaky. Sagna (6.8) did his thing down the right. Ramsey (6.6) and Wilshere (6.8) were fluid and industrious in midfield. Diaby (7.3) put up one of his better Arsenal performances by giving an assist for Arsenal’s first goal. Nasri (6.9) showed signs of rustiness but still played well. rVp (7.4) ended the season on a high to add his Arsenal tally to 23. Chamakh (6.5) disappointed me with that poor finish when he had the goal to aim at. Farmer Eboue (6.7) did okay. AA23 (6.5) had a few good touches. Walcott (7.3) spared Arsenal’s blushes with that late equalizer.
I’ll start with AW’s words in the Arsenal newsletter that I subscribe for,
“Dear Arsenal supporter,
I thought it was an average game at Fulham and, in the end, a fourth place finish is disappointing because three weeks ago we were in a position to win the league.
We are frustrated and disappointed but we should not go overboard. We just have to rectify things in the areas that we need to improve.
We didn’t lose third place on Sunday, we lost it last week. Facing a Champions League qualifier is less reassuring than being in the top three, of course, but we have given ourselves the chance to get into the group stage.
I think I am responsible for the results and I am very disappointed. The players have had an outstanding attitude. We have played 58 games but in the decisive moments, we have never had the whole team together. Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, for example, have not played many games.
We will try to do the right thing this summer and we will try to buy the right players. The amount of money is not always linked with the quality of the player but if we find the right players we will spend the money.
Finally, I want to praise you our fans – you have been outstanding all season and gave us incredible support again at Fulham.
You are not happy, I am not happy, and we have to accept that. But we should not go overboard. Even if people say we have to spend money, we have to be realistic. We cannot buy players for £50 million and, even if we try to strengthen our team and spend money if needed, that is a fact.
The Manager’s Email will return at the start of the 2011/12 season.
Thanks for your support.”
AW is certainly a manager to die for. The way he weighs his words show his calmness and wisdom. It’s really painful to know that things have turned this way for AW and the Arsenal faithful but I feel that we have to trust our manager’s judgment this summer. Some players need to leave Arsenal while he has to do everything to make the key ones stay.
AW has promised that he’s going to active in this summer’s transfer market and I’m looking forward to writing about it. We all know that AW had a Ph. D degree when it comes to making amazing signings. A bulk of these players he has bought in past years took a few years to get their feet but I’ll prefer AW to sign players that are already keen for a challenge not a player that will win the league in 2030. The fans are clearly frustrated by the performances the team has put this season in some certain matches. There’ve been players that stood out but AW should try his best to improve the places that were clearly lacking in quality this season. The defense really needs to be improved this summer so I pray that AW would send Steve Rowley and the scouting team to scout a certain defender and defensive midfielder 49 times like the way they scouted Vermaelen.
The tweet of the day goes to @daviruz,
“@daviruz: If AW becomes very active in this transfer market, I’m going to mop the Atlantic Ocean dry”
AW, please prove this fan wrong. I wouldn’t mind borrowing Abramovich’s yacht to take him to the Atlantic myself.
Dear readers, gear yourselves up my longest and best post yet,
Gooner Daily’s 2010/11 season review comes up next.