Mertesacker for the Win
It’s the beginning of a new week, but we’re still haunted by the remnants of Arsenal’s weekend display at Craven Cottage; we’re nearing the end of April and as of yet our top four place in the league table is still far from secure. While an historically significant 1-0 win is still 3 points to add to our tally, it really wasn’t all that easy to come by.
The issue on Saturday was less about the defense and more about our lack of creativity in the final third. Steve Sidwell, who had just come back into Fulham’s lineup after a red card suspension, managed to get himself another due to a poor challenge on Arteta in the 12th minute. For Arsenal this seemed brilliant and meant that for almost the entirety of the game we would be on the attack. Sure enough, we spent much of the game in possession and passed the ball about confidently, but did little with it. With a total of 7 shots on target, there were few moments that really challenged the Fulham keeper. For a team that enjoys possession and attacking football, we lacked that cutting edge around the box. Perhaps the midfielders were off their game; if so, let’s hope this doesn’t continue.
Patience on the ball would pay off, not from open play, but from a set piece. Walcott lobbed a free kick into the box, which was headed across goal by Koscielny and into the path of Mertesacker. The big German, with a diving header, put us up by one goal at the end of the first half. It was good to see Per score another, giving him a total of 3 goals this season (that’s as many as Adebayor, for those of you keeping track, with half the shots on goal as well).
We needed that goal, because if anything Fulham looked to gain strength after the red card. They threatened on a number of breaks, a couple times coming very close to scoring, stopped only by Szczesny between the sticks. The second half would see no further breakthroughs and clear cut chances to score were lacking. Before the game ended, however, Giroud would be red carded. While it made little difference to Saturday’s game, it does pose a question: what will Wenger do about the CF position next Sunday against Manchester United? It may be a chance for Walcott to get some time as a centre forward, much like he did earlier in the season, making room for either Gervinho or The Ox on the wing. Another option is Podolski, who has been somewhat out of favour lately, even though he’s still able to score goals when coming off the bench. I’d like to see the latter get a chance down the middle, especially now, since there’s been some mention of that possibility in recent days.
Currently, Arsenal remains in 3rd after Chelsea drew with Liverpool this weekend. Spurs managed a win over Man City, but they still sit in 5th. We’ve got to keep up this good run of form right to the bitter end if we want to salvage anything from this season. Positivity all the way folks.