Saturday’s game at the Emirates sees the return of Fulham and Martin Jol to the Emirates. Known best for managing Tottenham during the ‘lasagne-gate’ incident in 2006 (Arsenal stealing 4th place from Tottenham on the final fixture, after 10 Tottenham players missed their game against West Ham due to food poisoning: he was sacked 6 months later), Jol has carried on where Roy left off by getting the best out of Fulham.
Previously Zamora and Johnson have caused us all sorts of problems but they have since moved on (along with Dembele and Dempsey), with Rodellega and ex-spud Berbatov taking their place.
Arsene and Jol also got a bit heated in 2006 whilst in charge of Tottenham. Tottenham being the great sportsmen that they are, refused to kick the ball out of touch with two Arsenal players lying on the ground needing medical attention. Keane went on to score the goal inciting Arsene on the touchline, causing both he and Jol to square up in a fiery exchange (Arsene may look a touch scrawny but sources from back in the day say he’s scrappy, and has a nice jab!).
Missing in action:
Arsenal: Wilshere (Suspended), Gervinho (ankle), Diaby (thigh), Rosicky (tendon), Fabianski (ankle), Gibbs (Gibbs), whilst Ramsey (groin) and Ox face fitness tests
Fulham: Davies (hip), and former real Madrid player Diarra faces a fitness test
I for one am sick and tired of seeing the same players stuck in the sick bay time and time again (Diaby, Gibbs, and Rosicky the main culprits). It really is unrelenting and an all too familiar story season after season. We loved showing everyone our new facilities but what good is it if the personnel are not capable enough. Or is it just the fragile players themselves? Along with the sponsorship deals, this issue needs to be made priority number 1. It is hard enough hanging with the big spenders, but add in the continual injuries, and each season turns out to be a real dog fight. Maybe it’s time for a new medical team to be brought in because it can’t really get any worse than it currently is.
Szczesny is nearly back to full fitness but is unlikely to feature because of Mannone’s recent good form, expect him on the bench. We will see how he goes in the under 21’s match. Arsene needs to start rotating the squad not only to freshen up the team, but also to bring some much needed motivation and youthful experience. Cazorla, Mertesacker, Podolski, and Arteta have played too many games so far but may need to soldier on a bit longer, with replacements still coming back/sitting in the sick bay. I see either Ramsey or Coquelin taking Wilshere’s spot, Vermaelen staying at left back, and Arshavin coming into the starting line-up at the expense of Podolski. Jenkinson to return to right back as Sagna needs a rest after spending two lengthy periods on the sidelines.
Provisional squad: Mannone, Sagna, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Santos, Cazorla, Arteta, Coquelin, Podolski, Walcott, Giroud, Szczesny, Martinez, Djourou, Jenkinson, Chamakh, Arshavin, Koscielny, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey.
EPL – Jan 2, 2012 Fulham 2 – Arsenal 1
Arsenal conceded two late goals (Sidwell 85th, Zamora 90th) after a Djourou red card to lose the match 2-1. BSR could not get into the game as Hangeland rendered him completely ineffectual.
EPL – Nov 26, 2011 Arsenal 1 – Fulham 1
The corresponding fixture saw Vermaelen rescue a point after he himself scored an own goal early.
- We have never lost to Fulham at home (26 encounters)
- In the past 11 meetings against Arsenal away, Fulham has only scored 7 goals, and not one time have they scored more than once.
Form Guide: Arsenal: DLWWL Fulham: DDWDL
One to Watch:
Fulham and ex-Arsenal player Steve Sidwell. He is a dangerous midfielder who makes lethal runs into the box so our midfielders need to be on their toes. Then again Denilson isn’t playing so we shouldn’t see anyone watching/ jogging after him (as seen against Jenas + Bale). Sidwell is another one of those players that likes to bring their A-game against their old club, scoring 2 goals in his last 3 encounters against Arsenal.
All eyes will once again be on Thomas Vermaelen. It’s no secret that he is out of form and lacking bucket-fulls of confidence, but he is our captain and needs to lead by example. He is likely to play in the left back position, so he needs be on his toes as Ruiz and Duff are chock-full of all sorts of tricks. This is the sort of match where he is likely to bob up and score a brilliant header (we are yet to score from a header so far this season in a premier league game) and turn his back luck around. The Arsenal faithful need to get behind him, chant his name from the rafters, and sing it loud and proud…the warrior will return.
Giroud vs Hangeland
Hangeland is a lot like Mertesacker as he has good timing, reads the play well and an excellent tackle. He may have over powered BSR last time, but this time he can expect a fight on his hands as he contends with Giroud. If Hangeland is getting the better of Giroud expect him to move over to Fulham’s other centre back Aaron Hughes. Last weekend Hughes conceded a goal against Fellaini from Everton, and was constantly bullied by the stronger Belgian.
This week’s finger goes to those individuals behind International bloody friendlies. There is absolutely no point to them other than making money. We suffer enough injuries without pointless matches chucked in that increase the risk further. I hate International football: it’s boring, my country sucks at it, it’s corrupt, and most of all I just want to see our players playing for Arsenal and that’s it! Young Jack has just come back from a long term injury he suffered whilst playing a friendly against the Swiss; just in time to play and international friendly against Sweden…awesome, bloody awesome. If Jack gets injured again, Roy may well be shanked by Arsene…and a few thousand others in an alleyway.
Injuries are not the only problem; player fatigue is also an issue. Some players have to travel long distances to compete on Wednesday, and then travel back in time for Saturday’s game. For example Santi; he’s already played extensively for us, and now he has play on Wednesday, and be back cherry ripe for a tough match against Tottenham. Cheers guys, really appreciate it!
Pre-match pat on the back:
Congratulations to Jenkinson on his call up to the England squad. His rise from out of nowhere in little over a year has been absolutely sensational. With Sagna’s contract in question I feel very at ease knowing Corporal Jenks is ready to step on to the pitch to fill the void. Best of all he bleeds Arsenal!
The other pat on the back goes to Martin Jol. Other managers have sunk the boots in to both Arsene and Arsenal in the past, but putting their differences aside, Jol had this to say:
“I’m not an Arsenal fan – as you well know – but I always admired Wenger for what he did,” Jol admitted on Thursday. “There is not one other team in the top four doing the same thing with the same philosophy. They always manage to find the players who are younger and create value on the pitch. Of course, it’s probably not what an Arsenal fan wants.”
Things aren’t going too good for us at the moment. This is our worst start to a season under Arsene Wenger, registering a measly 15 points from 10 Premier League games. The midweek game against Schalke was disappointing given we let a two goal lead slip, but positives can still be drawn from the performance in the first half. Although Fulham are playing well so far, they are the worst team at losing points (12) from winning positions, so we need not panic should we concede early on.
Onwards and upwards I say, so this gooner is predicting a tight affair with the almighty Arsenal coming out on top. Final score line: 2-1 (Vermaelen, Walcott).
Lastly, don’t forget to make a donation to a Movember charity this month. It’s a great cause and a good excuse to grow a moustache; the only other times it’s acceptable is if you are a porn star, Burt Reynolds, or the greatest goalkeeper to have ever lived!
Written by: Oz Gunner