One more match before the return of Samir Na$ri to the Grove. Not as if Arsene Wenger sees Manchester City as any kind of a threat. Such is the confidence of the team at the moment, the manager looks to put his second string side to face the league leader. And the fact that the game in midweek will be a Carling Cup game. Before that, there’s Fulham.
I’ve got nothing against Fulham but any side managed by Martin Jol should receive a beating every single match that they play. If there’s an award for the most least like man in football, it’s Jol. Lest you forget, there’s this and this incidents. Both of which happened in the same game, the North London derby. Looking at those videos should be enough to ensure that Jol gets the appropriate stick from the Arsenal fans tonight.
As it is, Fulham are sitting in 16th place, just 2 points and 2 places off the drop zone. Their only away win of the season came at Wigan, which is hardly surprising given the conditions there. Their next best Premier League performance away from Craven Cottage were draws at Sunderland and WBA. Enough to make us feel confident about getting all 3 points tonight.
Fulham will be missing the services of Damien Duff, Steven Sidwell and Simon Davies for this match. 3 players who are integral to the way Jol lines his team up. In their absence, Jol will rely on the likes of Bobby Zamora, Moussa Dembele, Clint Dempsey and of course, Danny Murphy. That said, the first two will probably not be on the pitch at the same time, not unless Jol plans to attack us right from the start.
Like I mentioned earlier, with the next game being the Carling Cup and the fact that we are still trying to get back to where we should belong in terms of the league table, chances are, there won’t be much change to our starting line-up. Not that there’s a need for that to happen either. No injuries were reported from those who played in the Champions League win against Borussia Dortmund. Only concern would probably be to rest some tired legs.
However, I detest changing a working and confident team. I know Alex Ferguson likes to chop and change his team, especially in the first half of the season. Reason being that his players would then be in a much fresher state for the second half of the season. Wenger could also take this approach but it would hard to leave out any player who has won him the last 5 consecutive league games.
Therefore, I expect the line-up to be the same for the 3rd consecutive match.
A lot have been made of Gervinho missing clear cut chances to add to his goal tally for the season in recent matches. The Ivorian started his Arsenal career in explosive fashion, either scoring or assisting in those pre-season friendlies. The goals part may have dried up for now but I’m firmly in the camp of those who believe that once one goes in, he will go on a streak.
Wenger has given his support to Gervinho and so should we. Yes, it’s frustrating to see the way he squandered those chances but on the other side, it is also encouraging to see him constantly finding himself in those situations. It does show that he makes fantastic runs and has a knack to be at the right place at the right time. The goals will come soon enough, I hope.
After his exploits in midweek and the fact that we’re playing Fulham tonight, inadvertently Alex Song gets some press time this week. I’m sure we all remember his performance in that 2-1 reverse at Craven Cottage some 5 years ago. Arguably his worst ever in an Arsenal shirt and many have written him off after that match.
To his credit, Song took all those criticism in and worked his way back to the top. A season out on loan at Charlton helped paved the way. His confidence grew with consistent game time and now we as fans feel less secure if he is not in the starting line-up. I consider one of the best in that midfield role in world football today.
To say he is a typical defensive midfielder would be an understatement of the quality of Song. He’s much more than that. For someone who’s predominant role is to break and stifle the opposition’s play, Song has incredible control and passing ability. He comes up with his fair share of assist too. At the moment, Danielle De Rossi is the only other player whom I think is similar to Song.
We are on a very good run of form and a win tonight could take us to the giddy heights of third. Though for that to happen, we have to beat Fulham by 5 goals and 4 other teams above us needs to lose their respective games. Never say never in football. On a more realistic note, a win tonight should see us move ahead of Liverpool and draw level on points with Newcastle. That is based on the assumption of how those 2 would fare in the match against both Manchester clubs.
Here’s to 6 on the trot and another Arsenal win. It would be good to see someone else other than Robin Van Persie scoring too but I would take it just the same if it turns out to be RvP again.
Up The Arsenal!!!