After that disgrace at Anfield against the country’s best team, a decent result was essential heading into a New Year against a Fulham side also struggling for confidence.
Both sides showed some nerves early on and it was a bit scrappy. Thankfully Sessegnon left his shooting boots at home. Suddenly Granit decided to risk a nosebleed by moving into the rarefied heights of the penalty area. Wobbly’s pass was cleverly left by Laca and the big Swiss had a fairly simple toe poke finish.
Arsenal’s play picked up from there and we should have added to the lead before half time.
The second goal was a thing of beauty with incisive work filleting Fulham’s left flank. Auba’s clever pass to the Wardrobe put him in the ideal position to lay one on a plate for Laca.
After a couple of chances to extend our lead the Tinkerman brought on two forwards with a gambler’s throw of the dice. A sloppy pass out to the Terrier and a barge in the back won Fulham the ball and the inevitable, ‘brown trousers watching The Arsenal’ period of the game came as the lead was halved by a sub. Fulham scented a wounded animal, so the next goal would be crucial.
Thankfully Rambo came on as sub and almost immediately followed up an Auba pinger against the post and we could breathe easy once again. Auba then missed a little dink finish over the keeper before finally getting his goal via a deflection and a Papa assist.
4-1 and game over for a Fulham team which probably expected no less.
A fine result considering the less than perfect performance, though why we can’t see out winning positions without giving everyone kittens will, seemingly, forever be a weakness.
Leno – competent, making crucial stops when the game threatened to slip away from us … 7
Maitland-N – right wing back or right back, equally adept – starting to get some confidence back … 7
Papa – far happier playing lesser strikers and his first assist for twenty years … 6
Kos – our captain is slowly beginning to find his feet again … 7
Shkod – Injured or another half-time tactical admission that we got things wrong in the first half? … 6
Wardrobe – majestic at wing back – like a runaway train on the burst, setting up chances with its front wheels … 8
Guendouzi – heart of a lion – more to come from the young man … 7
Xhaka – his goal should have been the cue for a landslide – he himself could have had another – excellent through ball in the second half to set Laca free … 7
Wobbly – big chances galore came from his feet in the first half – much improved … 8
Laca – Fine goal and perhaps didn’t moan quite as much when he was subbed …. 7
Auba – a goal machine – he’s going to run away with the golden boot if he can sharpen his finishing even further … 7
Terrier – clearly he needs a rest as he’s been carrying some of the team on his tiny shoulders earlier in the season … 6
Rambo – instant impact at exactly the right moment – thanks for all the goals Aaron … 7
Saka – debut boy got a brief taste of the high life … 6
chas (who largely saw the game through BBC goal flashes and Arsenalist clips on Twitter)
How lucky are you? Double Bubble and a rather more sombre reflection on the day’s proceedings from LBG, your man at the stadium……
At the start of the day Chas asked for a “game to be proud of”. I will include the word proud for as long as is possible, but I’m afraid readers may see it disappearing into the ether quite quickly in my assessment of the game.
Be proud AAers of the result and three points, of some evidence of determination to rectify the travesty of a performance that was Anfield.
Be pleased with another goal from Aubang ( even thought he should have had an easy hat-trick) and Laca being given enough time on the pitch to score his goal before being (ridiculously) substituted. (Be pleased that he thought about kicking up a right fuss on seeing his number, but refrained when he heard the whole ground boo the decision, and instead went off graciously).
Be pleased with the short period of time AM-N was able to influence the game further forward before being dragged back in the rearranged defence.
Be pleased Fulham were useless in front of goal and Leno had little to do. (Two x Sessegnon chances put away early on and we could have lost!)
Be pleased that Kos is back, even if puzzled by the couple of pub defenders playing alongside him, which makes him more nervous than usual.
Be pleased Ramsey mishit a shot and scored.
Sorry, that’s the best I can do on the “proud”ish front.
I have an opinion, on why much is not right currently and will share when others have disagreed with everything I’ve said!
Leno – What he had to do was fine. Goal was up the other end and, although looked somewhat chaotic, didn’t seem he had added to that … 7
AM-N – Some good things going forward, breaking inside. Shame dragged back, where he is wasted, but still kept his end up defensively … 7
Mustafi – No pace, poor positioning, no sense of danger. Always tackles to the ground. Rarely gets the ball … 3/4
Sokratis – Didn’t win anything in the air. Always tackles to the ground. Sometimes gets the ball … 4
Kos – Some good work. Unlike the other two, does find his own players mostly with passes going forward … 5/6
Wardrobe – Some good work going forward. Not a very good defender … 6
Ouzi – A good game generally. Looking to play “dynamic” passes and succeeds generally. Makes some mistakes (He’s young), but positive, which is what I want from him … 7
Xhaka – Slows everything down, shovels poop, passed back more often than forward. Is simply not good enough, not quick of thought and action enough to be “the Controller ” in the deep-lying central position. And because he is (trying) to do this job, displaces Terrier to the right, which wastes him through lack of contact with the ball … 3 (for his goal)
Wobbly – End product, passing, shooting, dribbling generally poor. Knocked off the ball several times easily. Dribbles round and round and round and up his own backside … 4 ( for his pass for Xhaka’s goal, and probably something else that I’ve forgotten)
Aubang – Goal. Missed goals, closes down occasionally. Would like to see more heart … 6/7
Laca – Goal. Works hard, makes runs, rarely found due to people like Xhaka not looking up unless opposition back off and then Laca’s runs are marked … 7
Ramsey – Goal … 6
Terrier – ( couple of poor tackles on him. Lucky not to be injured …. again) … 6
And the winger Did he touch the ball?
Referee – Absolute pants (original choice of description didn’t pass the censors – ed). One penalty waved away. Tackles from behind allowed throughout the second half … 1
Written by a slightly miffed (it would seem) LBG