And They Said We Can’t Win Ugly… (Highlights)

By on September 27, 2009

[viddler id=bb4289e&w=469&h=307]

I should start off by saying that, no matter the performance, this is a fixture we lost last season and that Fulham looked more like the team they were last season down the stretch than a team currently in and around the relegation zone. It wasn’t pretty, but these are the matches we need to win.

I’ve said it many times on this blog… the league title is not won at Old Trafford or Anfield, it is won at Bolton, Blackburn, Birmingham, etc… We have to be able to get maximum points from fixtures like this and Saturday was a good start in that direction.

We should be honest and admit that we didn’t play well at all. Or should I say that we didn’t play well, consistently. There were brief periods, mostly in the second half after the goal, when our passing and movement were working well, but we didn’t control this match in any sense of the word. In fact, Fulham can rightly feel hard done by the result and, on another day, could have easily gotten all three points.

CelebrationWe seemed to come out of the gate fairly strong but after Fulham got a couple of solid chances off counterattacks the team seemed to become a bit hesitant. The hesitancy only made things worse with far too many giveaways in midfield and Diaby getting caught on the ball far too long, far too many times.

I may be beating a dead horse but I just keep wondering what is Diaby doing to merit getting all these starts. Diaby is a gifted and technical individual but he is not an Arsenal-type player. When he is on the pitch, it looks like ‘Arsenal and Diaby.”

Our entire game is based on quick passing and movement, and Diaby’s insistence on holding the ball and taking on far too many defenders only ends up disjointing the attack and keeping the side from developing any kind of rhythm in the match.

All these professional footballers surely stood out as youngsters in the park where they would dribble around 10 other kids and score routinely. Diaby seems to think he is still playing with kids who are nowhere near as good as he is. That is not an attitude that will help you be successful in the English Premier League.

No reflection on this match would be complete without mentioning the young Italian. Mannone was absolutely fantastic today and it could be said that we owe the three points to him. Because of the giveaways in midfield, the defense was caught out on the counterattack a number of times and Mannone answered every question Fulham had for him (even if some answers were guesses).

I would wonder, considering Almunia’s form before his injury and Mannone’s current form, whether or not Almunia will, indeed should, walk William Gallasback into the starting XI once he regains fitness. Rosicky seems to have regained his fitness and looked sharp in his 22 minutes after coming on for recently-returned Arshavin. When Nasri comes back into the fold, Diaby will be riding the bench and we may begin to see the kind of cohesion we expect from an Arsenal midfield.

The goal was sublime and it showed Robin van Persie somewhat filling Adebayor’s role. Last year, that would’ve been Adebayor receiving that kind of ball from Fabregas. The pass was classic Cesc and van Persie’s first touch was perfect after exploiting the huge gap left by Hangeland’s drifting. It’s always encouraging to see us score goals in such a direct manner.

Van Persie and Cesc look to be finding better ways to utilize van Persie’s new position in the 4-3-3, as evidenced not only by the goal but also the interchange between them that set up Arshavin for what was their best scoring chance of the first half.

That is exactly what van Persie needs to do to be successful in that central role. He can still come high or out wide and make tight passes in and around the box. That’s what he’s always done at Arsenal. But, most importantly, he needs to change it up.

He needs to read the game and know when to take a different approach, such as his run down the middle between the backs for the goal. It confuses defenders and forces the defense out of their game plan and comfort zone. And with Adebayor not here acting as the direct foil for van Persie’s withdrawn role, he must now play both those roles and know when to play them.

When your passing game just isn’t coming together, and Fulham’s hard work in midfield should not be ignored, you need to be able to take a more direct route to goal and that is just what Cesc and van Persie did. It was a narrow win, but, in the end, the points are what matters.

Now, it’s on to the Champions League Group Stage opener against Olympiakos at the Emirates on Tuesday evening.

Robin van Persie[digg=http://digg.com/soccer/And_They_Said_We_Can_t_Win_Ugly_Highlights]


  1. ASNLthruNthru

    September 27, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Agree totally concerning Diaby,would prefer Eboue or Ramsey to start until Nasri returns.

    • ArsenalStation

      September 27, 2009 at 8:15 am

      I too would prefer Eboue in the absence of Nasri. At least Eboue doesn’t lose the ball until the final third. 😉

  2. gun70

    September 27, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Diaby’s game is rubbish!

  3. reo

    September 27, 2009 at 2:42 am

    Diaby put a burden job to the whole team, specifically, Song had to run too much to cover the midfield, and Ces was not free to do his job.
    Arshavin got dissapointed by the way Diaby playing, he is just too stupid. This dumper must be out. Can’t understand what’s Wenger thinking

  4. ozed

    September 27, 2009 at 3:11 am

    Ramsey instead of Diaby? I think he needs to prove himself against Liverpool first same as wilshere. We complain about lack of experience and yet we want Ramsey to replace Diaby.I think our fans plan to lose one player per season last season it was adebayor this time its Diaby.can we please stop?

    • ArsenalStation

      September 27, 2009 at 8:17 am

      Diaby leaving would not be “losing” a player in the sense that we lost Hleb of Flamini. Diaby’s been here for four years this coming January and it still just doesn’t seem to be sinking in.

  5. georgesydaust

    September 27, 2009 at 3:18 am

    Wengers doing with Diaby what he did with Song last year. It’s his first run of more than 2 games in a row without injury since we bought him. Guarantee everyone will be praising the ‘new Viera with a twist” within the next six months.
    The kid will be gold, just be patient, AW is.

    • ArsenalStation

      September 27, 2009 at 8:20 am

      George, we’ve been saying that for two years, though. Diaby will NEVER be another Vieira, no matter how much we may want him to be. He is not as hungry and determined as Vieira was, he has no tackle whatsoever, and no interest in making tackles. And Vieira was not greedy with the ball like Vieira. They may look a bit alike but their playing styles couldn’t be more different.

  6. Goonzilla

    September 27, 2009 at 3:19 am

    This is clearly the best analysis of the match i’ve read so far……we played well and lost against man u…what do we hear, Utd showed the thing of champions by not playing well and winning…same scenario the following week in Manchester….this time around, we were clearly not at our best but managed to get the three points and all we hear is arsenal were lucky….someone give me a break….i’ll take this result as much as i’ll take a 4-0 drubbing

  7. Comrade23

    September 27, 2009 at 3:23 am

    All very well-made points. Mannone is the only reason Fulham didn’t win this one.

    Arsenal and Diaby… can’t be described in a better way than that.

  8. Timo

    September 27, 2009 at 3:39 am

    The fulham win? A greased camel head passing thru the eye of a needle. But Diaby is sh**t. Can’t wait 4 Nasri to come back.

  9. Greg

    September 27, 2009 at 3:52 am

    Nice article but you fail to mention that Arshavin was awfull.
    Had it been Rosicky from the start instead of him I believe we would be watching a totally different match. Every time he got the match he gave it away too easily. I think he needs to get his act together soon.

    Diaby is a very gifted player and given some time he will prove to be invaluable for our team. And whoever talks like Timo about him should think twice.

    • ArsenalStation

      September 27, 2009 at 8:21 am

      The thing was that I didn’t think Arshavin was any worse than anyone else on the pitch and it was his first match in about a month. He could be excused for not being 100% his usual self. Having said that, he still made a nuisance of himself in and around the box and had our best chance of the first half.

  10. nucks

    September 27, 2009 at 4:04 am

    Great article, so true about where we win the title. When we lost to utd that’s exactly what i said. It is better to lose at old trafford in sept than any other time in the season. Wish we hadnt lost to city though, feel that was a blow and hope we don’t look back at the end of the season and say that’s why we are 5th. Diaby??? He does have all the talent in the world. Quick feet, good finisher. BUT, can’t track back, cant tackle and does break up our wonderful quick fluid passing. Personally i would use him as a super sub this season, i feel that he is a luxury we simply cant afford. it’s a shame because he has the ability to be the best, but doesn’t seem to have the drive. Imagine if he had steve Gerrards passion!!!

    • ArsenalStation

      September 27, 2009 at 11:48 pm

      I agree completely, nucks! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  11. Mentuza

    September 27, 2009 at 4:37 am

    Alumnia wouldn’t have made those point blank saves Manone did. He would have stood rooted to the spot and scream at defence for letting their man have a go at goal. I think Wenger might not be in hurry to let Almunia back in. Maybe that ‘chest virus’ thing might just continue for a while. Thats how Jens Lehman lost his spot. And with Scazeny proving his point in Carling cup run, the number 1 spot would be most competitive, which ofcourse is good for our defence.

    • ArsenalStation

      September 27, 2009 at 11:29 am

      We can all obviously see that Mannone has great shot-stopping ability, but the thing he needs to work on is communicating with his center-backs. Better communication would’ve avoided the collision with Gallas, though in all fairness, Gallas should’ve been leaving that for Mannone the whole way. Also to be fair, it is only Mannone’s fourth appearance for the first team, so I expect that to come in time.

      Confidence in your keeper is incredibly important to center-backs and you can see that Gallas and Vermaelen (and Kolo before him) were never completely confident in Almunia. Hopefully, this performance will instill a bit of confidence in them when Mannone is in goal.

  12. midou

    September 27, 2009 at 10:03 am

    have u noticed these a… hole in their sofas 1st i think we had more than 2 opportunities 2 score bcos in their 6min high light thats all what they shown.and the rest was mannone vs fulham. loads of rubbish.

    • ArsenalStation

      September 27, 2009 at 10:09 am

      Of course, midou. Hansen constantly says Arsenal can’t win ugly and then when we do all he says is, “Stoke never looked like winning against Manchester United.” If we win our game in hand, we are only three points off the top. Which is why that comment from some idiot on Sunday Supplement saying that Arsenal can’t win the league because they’d already lost too many matches is just ridiculous. He then went on to talk about Liverpool challenging for the title but they lost just as many matches as we have.

  13. Banner

    September 27, 2009 at 11:52 am


    When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie
    That’s MANNONE
    When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine
    That’s MANNONE
    When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazool
    That’s MANNONE
    Scuzza me, but you see, back in old Highbury
    That’s MANONNE!

  14. Alauddin bin abdullah

    September 27, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Winning when playing ugly should be a once in a blue moon thing. But Arsenal lately seem to be turning it into a habit. The old affliction has not been addressed yet. Its the inability to cope with the physicality and speed of the opposing team. This is largely due to, I think, Arsene’s follow the pecking order policy coupled with playing players out of position. We as fans do not have the clout to bring about change. Somebody who is a somebody must do something !!!

    • ArsenalStation

      September 27, 2009 at 3:42 pm

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean, Aluaddin. Our previous three Premier League victories were hardly ugly (Everton 6-1, Wigan 4-nil, Pompey 4-1). The only match we won so far this season where we didn’t really play well at all was the win at Standard Liege. That’s twice in 10 matches overall… hardly a habit, I would think.

      Our struggling against Fulham didn’t have anything to do with Fulham’s physicality… I didn’t think they were that physical at all. Fulham is one of the non-elite teams that actually comes out to try to play football rather than defend and kick for 90 minutes.

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