Forget Villa result – Arsenal are in good nick

Just a week after most Arsenal fans were fearing the worst, things are looking a whole lot better after two good wins against Fulham and Fenerbahce. The Gunners scored three goals in each, with both Giroud and Podolski looking sharp in front of goal and plenty of control and chances being created.

So, were we right to worry, or was Wenger’s insistence on the quality in the side right up there with the best in the Premier League? I think the we will be able to answer that question better after the north London derby against Tottenham on Sunday, but I think the team has shown real quality and spirit in the last two games and am feeling confident about roasting the spuds at the Emirates.

The reason it went so wrong against Aston Villa on the opening weekend, in my opinion, was that we were not ready for Villa to do so well. They were close to relegation last season, but are vastly improved this time. Even last season they had some great results. I think the players took the win for granted a little bit, especially after taking an early lead. Villa have gone on to be very unlucky to lose to Chelsea, where the referee decisions that went in their favour against us, went against them. They were also a bit unlucky to lose to Liverpool on Saturday and I think they will be a strong side this season.

Wenger has done really well to pick his players up after that game and all the pressure that came after it. We are looking sharp in all departments now and nobody will fancy playing us. The main problem, however, and it is a big one, is the lack of quality cover in almost every position. Hopefully that will get sorted out this week and we can go into the derby feeling confident and reassured. Tottenham may have won both their games, but only by 1-0 and they were both somewhat generous penalty decisions. So cheer up Gunners, I sense another 5-2 on the horizon.

Fulham v Arsenal preview – Can we repeat Turkey roast?

Today Arsenal feature in their third match of what has already been a very up and down season, with one win and one loss on the books! Having been impressive in midweek against Fenerbahce in the Champions League qualification round, they return next Tuesday for the home leg at the Emirates. But before that we have to take all three points from a difficult away trip to Fulham.

Fulham away in the league is never easy and Craven Cottage can be a fantastic place to go! In previous years they may have struggled with talent, but a rejuvenated squad that features summer additions of Darren Bent, Adel Taarabt and Maarten Stekelenburg, suddenly the game got much harder.

Fulham have always been an Arsenal weak link when it comes to playing. We often fall short at the hands of the Cottagers and if anything is to go by with last weekend’s opening performances vs Aston Villa, then we must be worried that we will fall short once again.

Villa last weekend was a disaster for many reasons. It wasn’t all about the referee as some people like to see it and we must be honest in recognising it was also a poor performance from the Arsenal players. As I’m sure a lot of you saw, we then bucked up our ideas for the Fenerbahce game and hopefully we can take that spirit into this weekend’s game and give a strong performance to put us back on track.

There isn’t any new injury news as far as I’m aware and so it’s the same as last week with Vermaelen and Arteta being the two long term injuries, however we have seen Monreal return to the team, and Gibbs, Sagna, Ramsey and Rosicky are all expected to be alright for the game after playing in midweek. However I still expect our line-up to change a little bit with players being possibly slightly tired; however there won’t be any major changes.

I can see the line up being:
Szczseny
Jenkinson Mertesacker Sagna Gibbs
Ramsey Wilshere
Cazorla
Walcott Giroud Podolski

Of course Alex Oxlade Chamberlain will not feature, whilst Laurent Koscielny serves his one match ban. I predicted a 3-1 win for the Gunners over Villa and of course that didn’t work out and it turned out to be the other way round. I’m not expecting anything special this time around and so I’m going to go with Fulham 1 -1 Arsenal.

A win at Fulham will have turned Arsenal despair into hope

In a matter of days, the problems that were threatening to to bog Arsenal down in a swamp of despair seem to be slowly drifting away. The weekend was a dark time and we all showed our discontent at the way things were going.

The opening Premier League game of the season brought a 3-1 defeat to lowly Aston Villa, half of our team was injured and there was no sight of any incoming transfers. We have not seen significant improvement yet but steps have been taken to do so, we hear.

I will start with the fact that we put all doubts to bed about Champions League qualification. I was one of the people who actually expected us to be on the wrong end of this game because of injury and lack of fitness in the players that were available. As we know now though our squad wasn’t that badly affected and we had enough players to put out a full strength squad.

We won the away leg 3-0 and now I can’t wait to welcome the Turkish club to London so we can beat them by an even bigger margin. It isn’t over until it’s over but it is going to take a miracle for Fenerbache to beat us at the Emirates next week.

We have also begun our hunt for new players. Better late than never at least. An early bid for Yohan Cabaye wasn’t much to get excited about but now we are in for Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria. Apparently Wenger is also after a goalkeeper and a defender so I am expecting signings in the day to come.

As I said before, our problems aren’t all solved but we are taking steps to make sure we can actually compete this season. In another life Arsene Wenger would have complained to fans and not done anything to change the way things have been.

A good performance and all three points against Fulham at Craven Cottage tomorrow, and the dark clouds really will start to lift from Arsenal fans everywhere. Let’s be optimistic and hope there’s more to come.

3 goal cushion means Arsenal can fully focus on Fulham

Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners over Fenerbahce in Turkey last night, with our opposition set to return to the Emirates next Tuesday. Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud all scored goals in what turned out to be an enthralling win against the Turks.

The scoreline may make the game sound as if it was an easy win for the Gunners and a game we could sit back and relax as fans, however I felt slightly different about it. I felt the Arsenal performance was a bit strange last night. Although we played well and obviously had enough strength to beat Fenerbahce, we still struggled for large parts of the game to do anything with the ball. There was always a strong threat that we would concede and some very close misses and several good saves from Szczesny was the reason behind how we somehow managed to keep a clean sheet on the night.

It certainly wasn’t an easy game in my point of view, and although it wasn’t as tough as we all expected we still have to be wary when they come to visit us next week. Other than that I see no reason for concern! We got back to our old winning ways and Champions League participation looks to be in the bag for a magnificent 17 years in a row. A credit to Wenger, a credit to Arsenal and a credit to the players, a fantastic achievement although sadly of course we are yet to win the actual cup. Overall though I felt it was a good game, not comfortable as explained, however it was enough to carry us through and hopefully prepare us for Fulham this weekend which we be another difficult game for the club.

The decisive scoreline has set us up in a fantastic position for next week in which will be very difficult to overturn. I’m just hoping that Arsenal don’t find a way to make things difficult for ourselves like we always do.

FA Won’t Charge Wenger. What About The Referee?

Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger is likely to avoid disciplinary penalties after he attacked the referee following the Fulham match which was influenced by a few decisions which went against Arsenal.

After being refused a penalty in the first half and having Djourou sent off a bit weary in the second half the game’s referee Lee Probert was accused by Wenger of influencing the match and changing the result of the game.

“The referee influenced the game in completely the wrong way, in my opinion,”

After Djourou was sent off Fulham managed to turn the result around and win the game, but Wenger was nice enough about the incident and the FA announced that they won’t be charging him for attacking the referee.

“We have looked at the statements made and I can confirm we won’t be taking the matter further.”

What the FA should really do is send a hefty fine down the ref’s address and ban him from any big games for a while because he really did influence the match a bit too much. If Wenger makes up excuses sometimes this time he was right to accuse the ref. What do you think?

Wenger – Fulham’s aim was to get Djourou sent off, and it worked!

Arsene Wenger was not happy with the refereeing in yesterdays defeat to Fulham, and he believes that Fulham’s sole game plan consisted of getting Johann Djourou a second yellow card after the Arsenal defender was first booked.

“The referee influenced the game in completely the wrong way, in my opinion,” said Wenger.

“We cannot influence that. We had a good first half … in the second half we were more tired and in the last 10 minutes we lost the game because we were down to 10 men. The first yellow card was not a yellow card; the second yellow card was a foul for us. It was also 100% a penalty for us in the first half.

“When Djourou got the first yellow, every time they went down to get him the second yellow. He did nothing at all. I saw it coming because when Frei came on the game was all about looking for the second yellow card for Djourou. The referee was naive enough to give it. We played many games recently and we knew that if we dropped our level we would be in trouble. But we would not have been in trouble if we had stayed with 11 on the pitch.”

“We do not need to make stories for the newspapers,” Wenger raged. “I tell you about the game that I have seen. I don’t care about the rest. I just felt that every time … Djourou was on the fringe to get a second yellow.

“There was too much at stake in the game … we needed absolutely everything to go for us and to be right. We are guilty because we still gave two goals away in a stupid way and we didn’t take our chances but, as well, you must say that nothing went for us from the referee, nothing at all. We cannot change that. We have to live with it, unfortunately.”

The Fulham manager agreed that perhaps Wenger could say that the introduction of Frei had been his idea, and was happy to take the flak. “Maybe he could accuse me of trying to do something but I don’t think the players can do that,” Jol said. “The only thing I did was put Frei on the flank and he is an exciting player. He went one-versus-one all the time and that was probably the problem for Djourou. He probably could have had a second booking before he got it, to be fair.”

Well if that really was Jol’s game plan then it worked very well, but don’t tell me that it was Jol that told Wenger to put on Sebastien Squillaci to assist with the winning goal?

Do Arsenal only play when under pressure?

Arsene Wenger was a bit overconfident in his pre-Wigan statements saying that he feels like he already won. That’s not a bad thing but not entirely a good one either. The players need to be more focused and motivated than they were against Fulham last week, and judging by the last few years Arsenal seems to react better when they are under pressure.

“I believe we have won already at Wigan, and that is what we want to achieve again. We were a bit under pressure last time to win, but Charles N’Zogbia was always on fire against us.”, said Wenger

“I believe it has always been a committed game, always been a good game.”

“They play football. You look at the number of passes – they try to pass the ball out from the back, they try to play the Spanish way.”

“We do not want to drop points. Wigan are a good team, they are at home and they are a dangerous side. I think last year was a bit special but I think they always had good players in the last three or four years.”

“Many of them have gone now but they always have good players. They have replaced them again this season and they now look like they are coming back with a bit more confidence.”

“They will be a good opposition again. For us we just need to focus on our performance and try to win the game.”

Wenger should stop thinking about the fact that they are up against a weaker opponent and should start thinking about the fact that they are in the 7th place in the league and that’s painful any way you look at it. It would be a shame to let the good run Arsenal was in before the Fulham game to go to waste so a win against Wigan is mandatory.

Wenger – We are still unbeaten

Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger seemed content with the result his students got last night against Fulham. The Frenchman declared that Arsenal needed a touch of luck and some extra mental sharpness in order to win the game, but put the blame on the fatigue created against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League

“The positive again is that we have shown exceptional spirit, desire and refusal to lose the game. Many players were on the fringe today and we had not completely digested the Champions League game on Wednesday night. We needed to dig deep. “

“The circumstances went against us on top of that because when Fulham scored I didn’t see them crossing the halfway line too much in the second half. “

“It was very unfortunate to be 1-0 down but we refused to lose the game can came back to 1-1. It’s disappointing because we dropped two points but at least it keeps our unbeaten run going.”

“Maybe [it was down to] the sharpness of the mind, mental fatigue and a bit of physical fatigue as well. We haven’t recovered completely from the Champions League game – that happens sometimes. “

“But we still had the potential to win 1-0 and if not 2-0 because early on in the game we could have scored. Maybe once or twice we were offside when we should not have been. We also lacked a bit of accuracy in our passing.”

Arsenal won’t have much time to recover because they are going to meet Manchester City in midweek in the fight for the League Cup. Wenger is expected to go on the pitch with the club’s second team as is Roberto Mancini, but the egos of the two might get in the way of that.

Ramsey – We must not relax against Fulham

Arsenal’s centre midfielder Aaron Ramsey is certain that Arsenal will have to treat the Fulham game as serious as possible in order to get the maximum number of points out of it.

“It’s important to take this game as seriously as we take any other game,” he told Arsenal.com

“This is going to be a tough test for us but I’m confident that we can get all three points. Hopefully we can do that.”

“Fulham have proven themselves to be a good team over the seasons and they won’t make it easy for us. But I think with the form that we’re in at the moment and the quality we have, we can get all three points.”

“We’ll have to have really good possession and movement in behind – things like that which will break them down.”

“I think if we’re patient they’ll eventually leave a gap somewhere and hopefully we can take the opportunity.”

Fulham is not doing bad at all lately having gathered 7 points in the Europa League and getting only one win away to a qualification. They are not doing that good in the Premier League with only 11 points and a 16th place ranking, but they are certainly not an easy club to defeat.