Match Day 1: Fulham vs Arsenal…Let the EPL season begin!

And the wait is over! League football is back and I am sure we are all very excited.

First and foremost, I hope that the season goes without any issues and the Covid-19 situation will be under control and that stadiums will soon be full again. Football stadium without fans are not the same and even visioning the games from our cozy sofas is not the same without hearing and seeing the fans singing their Club’s glory or booing players…

How nice is it that we start our season with a London derby? It is also nice to have another London team in the EPL and personally, I never disliked Fulham. They have made some shrewed business from the French league getting Areola (he is a very good GK) and Tete (he is a good back up full back) and most importantly, they have a very clever coach in Scott Parker.

I feel like there are a lot of similarities between Parker and Arteta. Both very good midfielders with good defensive contributions and great understanding of the game. Parker has re-energized Fulham like Arteta did with Arsenal and both are young coaches leading historic London clubs although our club of course has a much richer and better history 😛

When it comes to the confrontations, it seems that Fulham is the best club at losing London derbies so let this streak continue today and then they can win against Tottenham and Chelsea. I think we have not lost to Fulham in a long time and also not lost to a newly promoted team on MD1 in a very long time. It seems past confrontation’s statistics give us an edge but…

Fulham is going to come out fighting and with passion to prove to EPL clubs that they belong to this league so I am expecting a tough battle at Craven Cottage and our defensive injuries are not going to help:

  • Chambers, Mari, Mustafi, Sokratis and Luiz are out;
  • ESR and Martinelli too

Apparently, Willian has been training well and he may just get a start today along with Saliba and Gabriel who would slot in for injured players so here is the potential line-up:

Leno – Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney – Bellerin, El Neny, Xhaka, Saka – Willian, Laca, Auba

COYG! Make us proud today! Let us win MD1 and start the season on a positive note


80 Responses to Match Day 1: Fulham vs Arsenal…Let the EPL season begin!

  1. Rasp says:

    Thanks RC, it’s great to start a new season with such enthusiasm about our direction. I’m a new era AKB, but I can’t for the life of me understand why we’d want to sell Martinez, he’s head and shoulders (literally) above Leno.,,, but I shall keep the faith as legoman hasn’t made a bad call yet.

    As for the game. I haven’t got a scooby. The players that Mikel improved in the last few months have been a revelation. For once we don’t have a scapegoat in the team thankfully. We’re currently top of the league now Bournemouth have been relegated, I’d take anywhere within 4 of that at the end of this season 🙂

  2. Sue says:

    Nice one, RC! The ‘London Calling’ derby… can’t wait!! Just under an hour for team news 🙂
    Instead of Elneny, I’d like to see Ceballos… can’t wait to see Willian, in our 3rd kit!
    Let’s hope we kick off in style, as the first game can be dodgy 🤪 COYG, 3 points please and you can even throw in a front flip celebration! 😉

  3. RC78 says:

    I hope we play with our Home kit though…not a fan of the Away Kit

  4. RC78 says:

    Hi Rasp – I am also hoping for Martinez to play ahead of Leno. He has earned the trust of the team and has played well and helped us win a trophy. Plus he is really attached to our club and I think he should be our Number 1 and that it is up to Leno to rise to the challenge

  5. RC78 says:

    Leno – Holding, Gabriel, Tierney – Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles – Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang

    Arteta sticks to 343 set up with Gabriel and Willian starting and with AMN on the left! El Neny starting the game for us as well.

  6. Sue says:

    Willian and Gabriel start! 🥳

  7. RockyLives says:

    Great stuff RC – thanks.

    I never like playing newly promoted teams early in the season and while they’re still full of enthusiasm, but it is what it is and if we have any serious pretensions to do better this year then we need to be beating the likes of Fulham.

    Even so, I have nagging doubts in mind about the result today. Hopefully I’m just being a nervous nellie.

    What’s the latest with Emi? Is he definitely going/gone (I’m a bit out of touch with news)?

    Like Rasp, I think I slightly prefer him to Leno mainly because of his dominance in the box. He seems like an old fashioned GK to me – someone who wants to catch the ball, not punch it.

    On the other hand, maybe he was just in a purple patch at the end of last season and the coaches presumably know what they’re doing if they prefer Leno as our No 1.

    I still can’t quite get my head round some of what’s going on… Elneny back in the team/squad? Ozil possibly staying? Is someone playing 4D Chess at our club?

    When does the transfer window close?

    (Sorry bout all the Qs).

  8. RC78 says:

    Hi Rocky –
    1. Arteta wants to keep Emi but Emi says he wants to be Nr.1 and Arteta cannot promise that…Emi may then be on his way out to…Villa 😦 I also rate Emi higher than Leno

    2. El Neny starting…who would have thought?

    3. Transfer window until 5th of October I believe

  9. RockyLives says:

    I know Elneny never really took off as a player for us, but his best quality is that he hardly ever gives possession away.

    The down side of that is that he seldom looks for ‘progressive’ passes and takes the safe option.

    I wonder if he will play at the base of MF with Xhaka allowed to be a bit more advanced?

    Depending on how good his reading of the game is, Elneny could be turned into a sort-of Pound Shop Gilberto possibly…

  10. RockyLives says:

    By the way RC – well done keeping the blog going with so many posts.

    I’ll try to contribute some in the not-too-distant.

  11. LB says:

    “I’m a new era AKB”

    That made me chuckle.

    Elneny to start ahead of Ceballos…..why?
    What am I missing?

  12. LB says:

    And they just keep on coming…..brilliant.

    “Elneny could be turned into a sort-of Pound Shop Gilberto possibly”

    Football is back, happy days.

  13. RockyLives says:

    Haha – I was almost embarrassed writing that one down, LB.

  14. RC78 says:

    Fulham has a few dangerous players in Odoi, Kebano, Cavaleiro and Kamara but their bench is also looking good with Areola, Mitrovic, Knockaert and Anguissa.

    Overall, I think it is going to come down to physicality and our ability to manage set pieces and break them through the wings…

    If we do not concede in the firt 30 mins, I think we could go on to win 2-0 with goals from Laca and Auba with Willian and Saca recording an assist. If we do concede a goal, I still think we will win 2-1 so let us see what happens now…

    Let us hope for a good game and also for a good performance by our new players and El Neny. As RL says, maybe we can turn him into a Gilberto thanks to Arteta’s magic

  15. RC78 says:

    Apparently, Emi will go to Aston Villa…

  16. RockyLives says:

    At least Willian should feel at home.

  17. LB says:

    The team selection always seems so obvious once you have seen it, AMN on the left — of course, doh, why didn’t I think of that?

  18. Rasp says:

    Great to see so old friends back on the blog. I was supposed to be watching the game live at home but I’ve been called out to an emergency at my daughter’s house so looking forward to getting a flavour of the game through your comments.

  19. LB says:

    And what happened to Saliba……….

    We have a good attack though, should win 6–8

  20. RC78 says:

    Gabriel is physically ready for the EPL, I think. Maybe Arteta has a doubt about Saliba’s readiness in that area?

    @Rasp – hopefully your daughter and family r ok…good luck

  21. fred1266 says:

    [video src="" /]

  22. RC78 says:

    Arteta has done some magic. Our team is playing like a team and players seem to know what to do…Only concerns are Holding so far and Leno…We can only concede points if one of them makes a mistake. Otherwise, we should really run away with this game.

  23. LB says:

    Well, it is pretty easy to see why Gabriel is playing.

  24. LB says:

    A second goal will kill this game.

  25. RC78 says:

    Laca scores, team played rather well and confidently

    Gabriel, El Neny and Willian did OK
    Tierney has been good
    Bellerin and AMN need to step up
    Auba can do better and Xhaka too
    Laca with a goal and plenty of energy
    Holding looking like our weakest player today, not good

  26. RC78 says:

    Gabriel indeed having a solid game so far

  27. RA says:

    Well done, RC, good post, thank you.

    Not sure that Hob Rolding has done anything wrong in the first half, as he and Gabriel have got to everything in the air, in defence.

    He has passed across the face of goal, a lot, usually to Gabriel, but that seems to be the modern approach — to keep possession — and as long as they keep the ball away from Xhocker that should be OK. 🤪

  28. RC78 says:

    The problem with Holding is that he already had one or two strayed passes and also his positioning is suspect. If they put Kebano there, I think he will struggle.

  29. RC78 says:

    Gabriel with a goal 🙂

  30. Sue says:

    Dontcha just love a Brazilian?!!

  31. RC78 says:

    Willian with the assist too

  32. RC78 says:

    Laca having a good game, scoring, getting the corner and Gabi having a dream debut

  33. RA says:

    Hi, Rocky, 😉

    Good to see you back and in good form!

    Actually, I was in the Yorkshire Dales a few weeks ago, when I saw a footsore nag approaching me pulling a multi-coloured Gypsy Caravan up what seemed a never ending hill, past the rather disinterested sheep, and both the nag and the caravan looked much the worse for wear.

    The driver, wearing a brightly coloured outfit, jumped down and proceeded to try and engage me in negotiations for an 1875 radio, which for some reason did not look right with its digital display.

    There seemed something familiar about the bearded grizzled visage, but we parted ways as the horse had glottis second wind, and I had a sheep to eat interview re the history of the Dales.

    Wasn’t you, was it? [The gypsy – not the sheep]

  34. RA says:

    Loving this game. 3:0 – excellent!! 😁

  35. Sue says:

    Auba… what a goal 👊

  36. RC78 says:

    Auba with the 3rd and what a beauty! Willian creating the goa

  37. Wow …… what a lovely goal.

    Happy Days …… hope everyone is well.

  38. Gonna love watching Willian ….. his passing is silky smooth

  39. Rasp says:

    Two assists from Willian this game?

  40. LB says:

    Isn’t it 3 assists?

  41. Rasp says:

    Wow … what a debut. Gabriel hasn’t been too shabby either by the sound of it.

  42. RockyLives says:

    Unable to watch the game but delighted to hear these updates.

    I’ll be relying on a good match report tomorrow to really give me the full story 😀

  43. Something the commentators said a while ago was about Arteta now being The Manager as opposed to Coach ….. has that been officially announced?

  44. Sue says:

    Well, there’s only one thing I can say –
    We are top of the league, say we are top of the league!! 🤩
    Excellent afternoon in the capital! 🔥

  45. Sue says:

    Peaches.. yes a couple of days ago…

  46. Thanks Sue, I’ve been out of the loop designing gardens for weeks. So more power and control for Arteta ….. good for him, he’s certainly made watching Arsenal a lot more fun (and successful 😉)

  47. Sue says:

    Green fingers hey, Peaches?! Nice one! Yes, he’s worked wonders, the future is so bright! Looking forward to watching it all unfold 🙂

  48. RA says:

    Has anyone else noticed that Pulis has taken one of the Sky Sports reporting seats on the panel managed by Jeff Sterling.

    I guess we should give him a chance – but his attitude towards Arsenal has been toxic over the years – so he is on a short leash as far as I am concerned.

  49. LBG says:

    Proud or what!
    Commenting before reading rest of comments.

    Willian and Elneny my MOM. Gabriel fine, confident start and you had the Bull to deal with in last ten minutes.
    Holding and Tierney solid and reliable. Laca holding off the grappling gorillas throughout, and an Aubang classic. A weekend made, Gunners. Thank you.

  50. RockyLives says:

    I guess Willian didn’t have to make too many adjustments today, what with playing in an all blue kit in West London.

    Oh wait, there was one adjustment. He wasn’t playing in a team of humungous C words.

  51. fred1266 says:

  52. fred1266 says:

    Litterally the dumbest thing I have seen,

  53. fatgingergooner says:

    Said a while ago we should go for Kalvin Phillips and suddenly he’s worth £40m! Some good players in the Championship from time to time.

    Loved the performance today. Not interested in the numbers or goals, I just really enjoyed the focus and commitment to a game plan that we had. We treated a relatively easy game with the respect it deserved. Something I think we’ve missed in the past.

  54. LB says:

    Looks like Ceballos was over reacting there.

  55. LB says:


    Your second paragraph sums the game up perfectly.

  56. Aaron says:

    Take the win, felt comfortable.
    Only problem for me in 1st half was Elneny and Xhaka provided no direct runs or passes.
    A few crosses went through, but overall a professional performance.

    When Emi goes, AFC needs another #2 as Macey has been told to be moving on.

    Lets hope Mikel gets the mf he desires.

    Top of the league.

  57. RC78 says:

    AFC accept 16 Mln pounds bid from Villa for Emi 😦

    I am really gutted

  58. Sue says:

    Raya from Brentford, Aaron 🤔

  59. fred1266 says:

    More than over reacting like he was trying to damage Eddie

  60. Sue says:

    Come on Leeds!!!

  61. RC78 says:

    Team update:
    -> Emi Martinez will join A.Villa for 16 Mln pounds and there are 4Mln pounds of add-ons as well

    -> Arteta told Holding is going nowhere so I think it is bye-bye Chambers and Fulham may be his destination…

    -> Arteta encouraging Mo Elneny to continue improving so he may be given a fair chance at the DM position in the end, maybe it will be the end for Torreira then…Let us see

    -> In terms of defense, we could have the following 10 defenders:

    RBs: Bellerin, Soares
    CBs: Holding, Mustafi, Saliba, Luiz, Gabriel, Mari
    LBs: Tierney, AMN

    If we could get one more CB, I would actually be happy to let Mustafi go (although he improved tons under Arteta) and bring in Fofana from St-Etienne…Fofana is a rock, trust me on this one. It d be a shame to see Leicester get him

    -> Ceba and Nketiah’s bust-up was good I thought. They re all edgy and competitive. I am sure the coach will cool everyone down.

    -> MOTM vs Fulham: Some have Gabriel and some have Willian. In any case, both have done well in their first outing so it s very positive for us

  62. fred1266 says:

    Liverpool get a hand ball with what I consider ball to hand but west ham get the same but no pen

  63. RockyLives says:

    “Arteta encouraging Mo Elneny to continue improving so he may be given a fair chance at the DM position in the end”

    Was Ninny or Xhaka the more defensive minded MF today?

  64. LBG says:

    Definitely Elneny IMO. Especially in second half Xhaka seemed to me to be a little further forward- still cant shoot.

  65. LB says:

    I think Arteta is adopting a bit of Wenger’s transfer tactics.

    The same situation exists, the more money Arteta can get for certain players the more he will have to work with.

    “Arteta encouraging Mo Elneny to continue improving so he may be given a fair chance at the DM position in the end”

    In other words: he’s for sale but I want as much as I can get for him.

    “Rob Holding is going nowhere”……….hmmmmm. Where have we heard that before?

    I am guessing that the game against QPR with out cameras, the one in which Ozil played was to show potential suiters that he hadn’t put on 10kilos and still had 2 legs.

    Torreira back to Italy, I would imagine.

    We know about Martinez.

    That should get Arteta the money he needs to get the other possibly 2 players he has in mind.

  66. LB says:

    I thought that Elneny simply got the basics right, the ones that he should get right every match.

    Can he carry the ball forward? No.

    Is he going to score goals? No, but someone in his position should do so.

    It seems as though some are impressed for reasons that I guess the bar was so low.

    Oh sod the fancy words the man is a water carrier, always was always will be, sell him and get a real midfielder.

  67. RC78 says:

    El Neny played more defensively.

    Arteta said the club is still in the market for players but he also said the team selection is becoming harder and harder as players are upping their game so let us see 🙂

  68. RC78 says:

    Anybody wants to write the post-match?

  69. RockyLives says:

    Nice to see Dani and Eddie pose for a friendly pic after the pre-match bust-up. (It was in a tweet from Dani).

    Rio Ferdinand probably has it right – he said this sort of thing happens all the time in training- it’s just that we tend not to see it.

    They were probably both pumped ahead of the first game of the season and passions were running high.

  70. fred1266 says:

    How Eddie and Ceballos bust up could be good ceballos tried to injure him

  71. fred1266 says:

    Xhaka was more defensive I thought but elneny didn’t go forward that much either

    Elneny did majority of the pressing also

  72. Sue says:

    Barker, Dawson and Tuffers to leave AQOS 😳

  73. LBG says:

    “Water carriers” of the last 50 years……

    Eddie Kelly, Brian Talbot, David Price, Kevin Richardson, Giles Grimandi, Edu, Gilberto Silva, Mattieu Flamini, Alex Song, Tomas Rosicky, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain, and Mikel Arteta……

    ……and I personally, wouldnt have been without any of them!!

  74. RA says:

    The opening game against Fulham was more like what we expected of the Arsenal of Old.

    No more pussy footing around waiting for the first Gunners mistake, and then the almost inevitable collapse of confidence, and the spiralling down into the oblivion of another losing start to a Premiership season with the inevitable turmoil of fan anger and despondency.

    Early days? Do I hear? Yes, yes, yes.

    These are early days, agreed, but gilded with the gold of understandable tactical brilliance already beginning to show under Mikel, and players already schooled to play for each other and their adoring fans.

    The player acquisitions from current transfer activities chose to shine, with Willian playing a stormer to back up our main strikers and giving three assists with all the nonchalance of a man who has done it all before over the previous 7 years or so in the premiership. Talented? You bet.

    Not to be outdone, Gabriel, who has not played in any competitive games since before the virus struck, was asked to play in the pivotal role alongside Tierney and Holding and was simply terrific. His command in the air, especially when under attack in the penalty area, immediately brought back memories of Tony Adams and Steve Bould and his positional nous and skill were outstanding.

    Defensive headers – yes – but from a corner taken by Willian he scored his first goal for us – from a header.Talented? Yes, and there is much more to come from young Gabriel.

    The calm way in which the team played while getting the measure of Fulham was impressive, and just to show them not to get too cheeky, a wobbly, weak shot from the man with a thunderous shot, Xhocker, resulted in a meleé, with Willian shooting against the GK leaving the rebound for the alert Laca to score.

    And that showed the wonder of Arteta for me, the defence, the midfield and the attack melded into each other in a way I have not seen for years.

    Tierney, for example, was key in a CB three, and yet suddenly he was up there supporting the attack, leaving AMN to automatically cover for him, and all throughout the team similar moves were happening, as the well coached and practised exchanges were planned – not the potentially disastrous mad-chicken, one man breakouts we have become so familiar with,

    Auba, scored a fabulous goal, the team all played well, and although it was ‘just’ Fulham, as our team settle in, they are going to get better.

    Promises for the future to make all us Gooners very happy.

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