Arsenal lost 1-0 away to Fulham on Saturday afternoon's late kick-off. Arsenal were pretty dire. AW said after the game:
"When you want to play at the top you must start the game with the right attitude and personality. Thats what we didn't do and thats a good lesson. It was the kind of game where you could not afford a mistake at the back or at a set piece. I believe they wanted it a bit more than us in the first half..."
I find it quite amazing that the team is so low on desire and motivation already in the season. I said last week after the WBA game that Arsenal were collectively poor. Most people disagreed and preferred to praise WBA (who lost at home to Everton yesterday). Well this was the same level of Arsenal performance, just made away from home at a vocal Craven Cottage, against a side who man-for-man were far more committed to the job of winning the game of football. Fulham deserved it.
There are a number of ways of looking at the reason for failure yesterday. The absence of an experienced central midfielder is obviously a factor, but I don't think it should be overplayed. Sticking Alonso or Barry into the mix yesterday, I think we would still have lost. The reason is that apart from Cesc and Rosicky, this was virtually our strongest side yesterday. If the eleven players that started the game had been up for it, then they would have won. We had far more quality on paper, but Fulham out-passed us, were accurate and patient in possession, far more hungry for the ball, far quicker to close down and tackle. We lacked passion and commitment. And I find that very disappointing.
The lack of a central midfielder was compounded by Denilson having a shocker. But I would be hesitant to lay all the blame at his door. We made Bobby Zamora look a class act yesterday, just as we did to Ishmail Miller last week. I thought Gallas had a poor game again - he was basically just happy just to let Zamora win the ball in the air. He set a poor example and he was his lazy and uncommitted defending that allowed Fulham to score from a set piece.
Theo Walcott was poor. Nasri won the plaudits last week against WBA, perhaps a little generously I thought, he was ok against Fulham. But both these wide players offered very little defensive cover and frankly were hardly impressive going forwards. Fulham closed them down well and that was it. Its not rocket science to say that they are no comparison to Pires and Llungberg in 2004. However, fact is they were also no comparison to Hleb and Eboue in 2007.
Up top, Adebayor and RVP had moments when they could have scored. We could even have robbed some points if they had taken their chances. However, apart from these scant moments, they simply were not involved in the game.
A bad result and a very bad performance. These problems run much deeper than needing a centre midfielder.