Fulham vs Arsenal
Wenger’s proverbial handbrake was on full strength as 10-man Arsenal surrendered a 1-0 lead towards the end of an exciting match at Craven Cottage through a series of defensive mistakes as the severity of their full-back crisis hit home.
Arsenal carved multiple chances in the first half, creating 9 shots on target, as Gervinho and Ramsey posed the Fulham defence many problems. The Ivorian’s already hugely criticised finishing was in the spotlight once again.
With only 1 shot on target from 4 rather decent chances it certainly wasn’t his night up front. As has been said many times, he is excellent at getting himself into a good position and as his 15 goals for Lille last season shows he does know where the net is. Arsenal fans are yet to see this side of him and many are hoping Wenger is making him work hard on it in the training ground.
On the other wing, Walcott had a night to forget. Without a natural full-back overlapping him he has become even more predictable as his achievement of only one succesful dribbler shows, and the increase in his crossing ability that he had shown a few weeks ago seems to have deserted him. His final ball left much to be desired all night.
The full-back situation at the club really has become a disaster. Coquelin, a deputy defensive midfielder, started at left-back and had a good overall game against the ever improving Ruiz. Composed on the ball, quick-thinking and a good range of passing ensured he did himself justice. However, he is a deputy defensive midfielder playing at left-back and as expected made minor positional mistakes, one which left Zamora open to score the winner for Fulham. At right-back Djourou had another unconvincing performance and also received his marching orders for a second yellow through lack of positional sense.
Things aren’t all bad in Arsenal’s defense however. Laurent Koscielny put in yet another impressive stint and surely deserves the same praise directed to the likes of Vidic and Kompany. The Frenchman won 3/3 tackles, 9/10 ground duels and 2/3 aerial duels. To cap another commanding performance he grabbed the opener for Arsenal, a much deserved reward for an already outstanding season.
One notable difference in Arsenal’s style of play was their directness. They moved the ball through midfield much quicker than they have been this season, looking to catch Riise or Kelly high up the pitch. As a result of this there was a slight shock in the final possession count, Fulham had 53% to Arsenal’s 47%. Even when they are defeated, Arsenal tend to dominate possession so this was an interesting aspect and credit to Fulham for their hassling and discipline when in possession. Fulham also trumped Arsenal on the total pass count by 63.
The Sky pundits before the game had began discussing Arsenal as the dark horses in the title challenge, this defeat will have put hold to any further discussion on this and one thing is certain that if Arsenal do want to be taken seriously they need to begin cutting out the errors that have cost them many games like this one.
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