Monday, January 2, 2012

The Struggle Continues

The teams that Arsenal are fighting for 4th have been dropping points; Arsenal have followed suit.

Fulham 2-1 Arsenal
This game might well have turned on a classic goalmouth scramble soon after Koscielny's first half opener. Both Ramsey and Song were denied by desperate saves. Fulham stayed in the game and it remained 1-0 until half time.

Despite the harshness of Djourou's second yellow card, Fulham were well worth their victory. Wenger paid for long term and short term oversights. The lack of a viable alternative to Van Persie- and the absolute lack of faith in Chamackh, which can't be helping the man's confidence- is taking its toll. Van Persie already looked knackered against Wolves, and has played twice more in less than a week since that game.

The injury crisis at the back is plain unfortunate, but Wenger's handling of this game could have been better. Fulham had pinned Arsenal back for almost the entire second period. High balls into the box were causing havoc, as usual, and both Senderos and Dempsey should have equalised. Arsenal needed an outlet on the break but both Walcott and Gervinho were replaced. On came Benayoun and Rosicky and with that went any real attacking threat. The game became a siege on the Arsenal goal.

The equaliser was disappointing, but felt inevitable. Szczesny flapped at a corner, Senderos headed into the goalmouth and Sidwell found the net.

Fulham almost seemed to run out of steam. But there was a final twist as Squillaci, whose name has become a byword for calamity, inadvertently headed across goal for Zamora, who steered a brilliant first time volley inside the near post.

A late winner today for Chelsea. A late defeat for Arsenal. Neither side have any great sense of momentum at the halfway stage and the possibility remains that Liverpool will surge back into contention for a Champions League spot. Arsenal are running out of steam at a vital time and it may need more than the return of a once great marksman to restore order and consistency.

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