Two certainties this afternoon. Firstly, that Sparky will be telling his midfield to “let them know you’re there” and secondly, that Mark Schwarzer will have an outstanding game. In my opinion, it is upon these two personalities the game will hinge.
Hughes is man under pressure, having seen his team fall to one point above the relegation zone. However they are the draw Kings of the PL having won none of their away fixtures but drawing 5 out of 7. In fact Fulham have only won twice this season and I remain sure they will not add that that tally today. Fulham have a nasty injury list, longer than ours (for once) and Bobby Zamora’s broken leg has seriously blunted their attacking threat.
This being a purely personal pre-match and not representing the ethos of the site, I can give vent to my dislike of Mark Hughes. He was a spiteful, dirty player who specialised in kicking the ankle tendons of the opposition and feigning innocence when challenged. He was all I hate in Man Utd (and then Barca where he sank ignominiously). A quiet assassin whose pretence of being a fair and honest player was pure sham. Then into management and you will not be surprised to learn that his Blackburn team finished bottom of the Fairplay league the 4 seasons he stayed. Upon moving to Man City he proceeded to freely spend the Arab money – €25m for the totally erratic and troublesome Adebayor was great business for us, and the €32m he wasted on Robinho was another example of his poor purchases. At the same time he bought Ben-Haim, Kompany, De Jong, Bellamy and Barry to make sure the team had a violent edge to it. He had 2 wins from 11 before being sacked and has continued his good form with Fulham who have now won 2 out of 15. The man gets paid millions for results like that – he must have the best interview technique and agent!!
And then there is Schwarzer. Hughes has openly stated that Mr.Wenger was trying to sign him right up to the point Schwarzer signed his contract this week. I do not blame Hughes for wanting to hold onto his player, and it is to the Aussies credit that he was not bitter about being held back from achieving his ambition to play CL football. What I don’t like is the glee with which Hughes thwarted both AW and his goalkeeper, it was the actions of a small, petty man.
Which brings us onto his spat with our beloved Captain. Hughes took umbrage at Cesc’s assertions that Blackburn’s football ethos had nothing whatsoever to do with what Sparky learned at Barca. Then he went public – not something that did him any good at all, after all everyone who saw the game had to agree with Cesc. Hughes demanded respect from Cesc who apologised (under pressure from AW), but if Hughes wants respect then he has to earn it – fans, players, and managers respect people who adhere to the traditions and artistry of the game, not a man who sends out teams with instructions to kick the lunch out of the opposition (apart from a few notable exceptions Fat Sam, Pulis etc)
Enough of my rant ….. onto the Arsenal.
Can we continue to scrape wins or will Fulham get the draw they will come for? If Fulham score first (and with our leaky defence it is a reasonable assumption), we could be in for a long, frustrating afternoon. But our midfield sans Cesc looked great at Villa and with AA and Chamakh on form, we have lots of firepower.
Bench. Chesney, JD, Gibbs, RvP, Theo, Denilson, NB
I see this game being a classic attack v defence, with many Arsenal attacks floundering on the head and feet of Hangelaand and Aaron Hughes, and Schwarzer desperate to show us what we missed. But we are on the verge of something special with this Arsenal team. Fewer and fewer people believe me but a poor half against S***s doesn’t preclude us from winning the League, and as we have already seen all the top sides have lost points to inferior opposition – let us hope today is not another example.
p.s. Sorry about the rant 😉