Sunday, 11 November 2012

Arsenal blow up against Fulham -Walcott negotiations restart -£30m bid for Cavani?

Morning Gooners.

I think my overriding feeling of yesterday's result is one of disappointment. Any kind of win would have done, we needed a moral booster ahead of next Saturday's game but with Mikel Arteta's last minute penalty being saved, we've got a week to get our heads right and make sure we don't throw away a two goal lead again.

What is it with this, or any Arsenal team of recent times, that are 2-0 up? The opposition still feel the game is wide open even though we've got a two goal cushion. The defensive stability we thought we had after the opening seven games has gone. And now we've lost our creativity going forward as well, which is even more of a worry.

Ever since Per Mertesacker was dropped against Chelsea, we've not looked the same. Yes, we won against Olympiacos and West Ham, but there has been something missing in our play. October's international break proved costly. Of the seven games since then, we've won two, drawn two and lost three. And now we've got an international fixture in midweek, when Arsene Wenger, Steve Bould and Neil Banfield could have really done with a week to prepare the players for next weekend.

On the other hand, sending the players away for the week might work in our favour. Having to concentrate on something other than Arsenal may clear the mental block which is at present holding this team back. We're not as bad as we think we are but then we're not as good as many were making out at the start of the season.

After 11 games we sit in eighth place in the league. We've drawn as many games as we've won (four) but I think what Arsene Wenger will find most worrying is that we've failed to score in three of our games. A positive is we've kept a clean sheet on four occasions.

I genuinely believe we will find it more difficult this season to finish in the top four than last. Where as we had a striker in the form of his career coming up with nearly a goal a game last time round, this season we've only found the back of the net on 18 occassions. That's the same as third placed Manchester City - who play their 11th game of the season today against Spurs - but they've yet to lose a league game this term and have conceded two less goals than us.

While we've still got time to turn things around, it's not looking good at the moment. I'm glad Theo Walcott has been restored to the starting line up. He's our form player at the moment and while his contract situation is perplexing - why haven't we signed him up? - he's got to start for me. We cannot be stubborn about it. He needs us as much as we need him at the moment.

Olivier Giroud is starting to find his feet in the league (let's hope it's not a false dawn) and his goals yesterday proved to me that Arsene Wenger was right to persist with him (we don't have much option though do we?). Quite why he ducked under Bacary Sagna's second half cross when putting his head on the ball and heading it towards goal would have been easier only he knows. But I felt the Frenchman was moving through the gears yesterday. Let's hope he can have a purple patch in front of goal.

What does concern me is the form of Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski. They didn't come alive in the game until the second half. We really need more from them both.

I think both of yesterday's goals from open play were preventable. The blame for Fulham's first lies with Vito Mannone. Once he left his line he needs to get to the ball no matter what and had he continued his run he would have been able to prevent Berbatov from scoring.

The second was also poor from the Italian but where was the midfield tracking the runners into the box? I'm not sure Francis Coquelin had his best game in an Arsenal shirt but when a team isn't playing well around you, I think it makes it even harder for younger players to come in and impose themselves on the game.

Mikel Arteta had a disastrous second period. For a player who is normally head and shoulders above the rest, he had an off day. Bryan Ruiz (who I thought was outstanding) got goal side of the Spaniard and was brought down for Fulham's spot kick which Berbatov scored. And then with the last kick of the game saw his own penalty saved by Mark Schwarzer.

The introduction of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain made a difference and quite why it took the manager so long to introduce Andrey Arshavin is anyones guess. Perhaps a draw was a fair result but we need to be winning these home games. Arsene Wenger is going to have a week reflecting on this result and needing to come up with some fresh ideas.

A quick look at the morning's papers suggests Carl Jenkinson is set to sign a new £30k a week deal, according to the Sunday People. Marouane Fellaini is Arsene Wenger's number one target in the January window, according to the Sunday Mirror. While The Sun says we've been warned off £9m rated Hamburg stiker Heung-Min Son.

The Mail on Sunday says we're going to splash £30m on Napoli striker Edinson Cavani (yeah right we are). While The Sun reports Roy Hodgson won't start Jack Wilshere on Wednesday night for England.

And finally the Sunday Mirror report Arsenal are about to reopen contract talks with Theo Walcott, although the player won't work to any deadline set by the club. While the Sunday Telegraph say Chelsea are closely monitoring Walcott's situation at Arsenal.

That's it for today. Back with more tomorrow.


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