Monday, November 28, 2011

Arsenal 1 Fulham 1

We have mixed views on this game among the members. Some of our players may not have been as sharp as we hoped, but they showed great spirit to come back from 1-0 down. After the equaliser, Arsenal pressed on with great urgency, but unfortunately the end product never arrived. Of course, two points dropped are a big blow to Arsenal's top four finish bid, but the draw is unlikely to undermine their confidence or affect the momentum of their resurgence.

All Arsenal players knew they had to be patient and not to make silly mistakes, so I was not too disappointed with their performance in the first half, when it ended at 0-0. However, conceding a first goal was not included in their game plan. It was very difficult to score two goals against Fulham's well-organised defence especially with a man of the match performance from their goal keeper, Mark Schwarzer.

Incidentally, Arsenal's starting XI did not include any Frenchman for the first time in 6 years. An interesting stat? Arsenal are no longer a second Frence national team. This is not really surprising if you look at this summer's signings, which included no French nationals.

Player ratings:

Szczeny: 7
Made some good saves.

Djourou: 8
Good denfensive work, covering central defence as well. Also, he made good forward runs, overlapping Theo, and nearly scored with a powerful header.

Mertesacker: 7
He was replaced in 68th minute by Diaby to add offensive force. He did OK.

Vermaelen: 8
Unfortunately he was the culprit for the first goal, but he did not hide and instead, he scored a brilliant goal. It was nice to see our vice-captain and one of our most influential players kissing the badge when celebrating his goal.

Santos: 7
Won some crucial tackles. He looked better defensively than before and good at going forward as always.

Ramsey: 6
His passing lacked accuracy. He continued his efforts to make runs and get into good positions, but failed to grab his chances to shine (one of his efforts was not entirely his fault though, as it was denied by Schwarzer). Some criticise Arsene Wenger for his decision to keep playing Ramsey, but the young Welshman had a few excellent games before this one and he looked like he was going to start scoring anytime soon. Wenger could not drop him as long as he was fit, but probably Rosicky will start in Ramsey's place Tuesday night.

Arteta: 7
When he thought he was fouled, he stopped playing, which led to Fulham's goal (or Vermaelen's first goal) as the whole team were distracted from the incident.

Song: 8
Worked hard as usual. Took on more defensive work after Mertesacker had been replaced.

Walcott: 8
This is where our views are divided. I personally think he had a good game and many Arsenal fans seem to agree with me as he collected 28% of votes for the Man of the Match on the site (Vermaelen was top with 35% of votes). He was always dangerous on the right-wing, creating chances for others and seeking to score himself. He supplied a superb cross for Vermaelen. Although his late effort was as tame as a back pass, his work down the right-wing throughout the game overweighs it. He had a tendency to go anonymous after a couple of good games, but he has had a run of decent games by now. Is this a sign of consistency?

Arshavin: 6
He started brightly, but failed to threat Fulham defence. Sometimes gave the ball away too cheaply.

Van Persie: 7
Had a relatively quiet game. He got involved in a few attacking moves, but could not produce a goal.


Gervinho: 8
Came on as a 68th-minute substitution to replace Ramsey and made an immediate impact. Shame he didn't start, but he looked a bit jaded in the midweek game against Dortmund. That may be the reason behind his starting from the bench.

Diaby: 7
Replaced Mertesacker at 68th minuite.

Chamakh: 6
Came on at 76th minute for Arsehavin. Did not make an impact.

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