You have got to love Martin Jol; he sets out his teams in the same attacking formation every time he plays against Arsenal and every time they lose, ok there was the one exception but that, as far as I am concerned, only proves the rule; he certainly was never able to beat an Arsene Wenger team while manager of Tottenham and he was no where near doing so yesterday.
Arsenal carried on from where they left off on Wednesday against Fenerbahce beating Fulham at Craven Cottage in what turned out to be a convincing style. 3-1 to the good guys was just what we needed to get the media off our backs, to stop rogue Arsenal supporters taking swipes at the club and to set us up nicely for the coming game against Tottenham.
Wenger rotated his squad (lol) leaving Wilshere on the bench, moving Rosicky further back and adding Podolski to the front. This was a very attacking move that had the much desired effect, in my view, of helping Giroud avoid being isolated which he appeared to for the best part of the game against the Turks.
The tactics seemed to be to play our way past Fulham’s onward rushing attack and pick our way round their defence. This required accurate, pin-ball passing which as the game went on Arsenal were doing with more and more fluency and speed.
The break through came after a long range shot from Ramsey was deftly, yes deftly, controlled by Giroud before poking it past the keeper for his now customary goal per game. I have noticed that since the Frenchman has been scoring so regularly that the priority signing to some is shifting from wanting a striker to wanting a centre back, well not for me; I still feel that Suarez would score twice as many of those kind of goals if he were to come to the home of football. That said, I don’t want to appear to be ungrateful to Ollie, the man works like a Trojan, always putting in a shift; he really is the perfect example of what a team player should be.
Being a goal up forced Fulham to come onto us and that in turn forced the focus onto our back line which I must say I thought put in their best performance to date, there was a real understanding between them: Mertasacker oozed confidence, Sagna got better and better as the game went on, Gibbs was simply very good once again and Jenkinson never seemed to be caught out of position, as he is sometimes prone to doing, with Sagna there watching his back.
During the game I was trying to work out, if I were to write the report, who I would award the MOTM to? For ages I couldn’t see anyone who stood out as every player seemed to be doing his job very well; Ramsey may have been given it by the BT sports and indeed he did play well but no better than Cazorla who seems to have finally digested that massive paella he consumed during the close season; the magic in those boots is back, the twists and turns that takes him past opponents are one of the vital skills that makes us a better than the likes of Fulham. I toyed for ages with the MOTM going to the team but then it became clear, there was one player who produced something over and above what I think we have come to expect – Lucas Podolski is my MOTM, scorer of two goals that gave us the points and put smiles on our faces this Sunday morning.
When we are one up space appears and Theo usually starts to shine, yesterday was no exception and it was one of his runs, combined with a Cazorla shot, parried by the Fulham keeper that fell for our Johnny on the spot, Lucas Pololski to side foot in from 18 yards, no easy task, the man did well and gave us a two goal cushion to go into half time with.
If Theo starts to shine at one-nil up he becomes lethal when we go two up, it was his charging run and the quick feet of Cazorla that brought about the third goal for Pololski who rifled home, low and true.
Wilshere came on and added a bit more steel to the defence, Nacho got a run out and Sanogo got a few minutes, I can see him going on loan when the real deal arrives.
Anyway, we took our foot off the gas a bit and this allowed Fulham to score but that only had the effect of focusing the team again, enough to see the game out and bring the points home.
Be afraid spuds; be very afraid, the mighty Arsenal are hitting their stride.
Written by LB