Fulham spread play through channels but are thwarted by Manonne heriocs

Vito Manonne produced a string of saves to ensure Arsenal took the share of the spoils after going under the cosh somewhat by Fulham’s expansive play.

Roy Hodgson is becoming quite the tactical master against Arsenal as his side once again tested the Gunners to their limits yet somehow, mainly in the form of Vito Manonne, came away with nothing. The Italian was in inspired form and produced a string of saves to ensure an Arsenal win in a game the Cottagers deserved more from.

It would be easy to criticise Arsenal because of the niggling faults that still persist but on the other hand must be praised for their resilience to come away with maximum points which in other seasons may have resulted in defeat. Last season Fulham took three points at the Cottage by taking an early lead and hanging back at the edge of their own box to stifle Arsenal. And in the reverse fixture earned a goalless draw as they stretched Arsenal in possession and with the movement of their two forwards, troubled the back four on the break.

This time round it was much the same story and rather intriguingly, Fulham made more passes than Arsenal although the Gunners maintained the greater share of the possession. But in truth this stat told it’s own story of the game as Fulham passed the ball quickly particularly down the channels, once again looking to  stretch the Arsenal back line. The full backs had great joy, breaking forward with much ease as they made a mockery of the Gunners’ high intensity pressing game. And every time they won the ball back, Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson sought to catch the Arsenal defenders off guard by drifting towards the channels.

It was from these areas they profited from but were fantastically denied by the heroics of Arsenal’s third choice goalkeeper, Manonne. His best save(s) came from an Andrew Johnson’s header which was en route towards the bottom corner but Super Manonne flew out a hand to stop the shot before blocking the Dempsey follow up with his face. After the game, Arsene Wenger was quick to remind his new young hero of the competition he has this season with Polish ‘keeper Wojciech Szczęsny also impressing in the midweek Carling Cup fixture.

Wenger’s prognosis before the game was of a tough match but one which he was quite confident of if his troops stuck to his instructions. “It’s going to be hard,” he said. “But as long as we can put the pressure on the opponent, play together and share the goals then I’m quite confident.” It was quite concerning the apparent ease in which Fulham negated Arsenal’s game plan as they played the ball forward quickly before they were pressured and then in turn, pressure back when the Gunners had the ball. Perhaps playing such a style will be rather more difficult domestically because of the direct nature of the Premier League. And that is probably where the Gunners missed Denilson as it may have demanded the midfield to play deeper which the Brazilian will have provided. The gap between defence and attack was too large hence the amount of chances Fulham had rather than dumping all the criticism on the Arsenal defence.

As it was Alex Song was given much responsibility and he duly stepped up to the task, working harder for the cause than Dwight Yorke’s toothbrush. It was his interception that brought Arsenal their goal as he read the pass from Paul Konchesky before playing the ball to Cesc Fabregas to float delightfully on to van Persie’s chess trap. The Dutchman shielded away the defender and arrowed a low shot past the reach of Schwarzer.

Andrey Arshavin’s law of diminishing returns saw him give Arsenal only 40 minutes of full fitness and Abou Diaby, despite his potential is still a box of chocolates and is unfortunately producing more Turkish Delights rather than chocolate truffles. And Cesc Fabregas admitted to Spanish magazine Don Balon that he is playing more attacking now which upsets the balance of the side.

It may have been less than what Fulham deserved but Wenger will be at least delighted with the way his team didn’t crumble but will also be the first to demand improvements are needed.

Fulham (4-4-2) Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey; Zamora, A Johnson.
Subs: Zuberbuhler, Baird, Gera, Kamara, Riise, Smalling, Greening.

Arsenal (4-3-3) Mannone (8)*; Sagna (6), Gallas (7), Vermaelen (6), Clichy (6); Song (7), Fabregas (5), Diaby (5); Bendtner (6), van Persie (6) (Eboue 5), Arshavin (5) (Rosicky 5).
Subs not used: Szczesny, Vela, Ramsey, Silvestre, Gibbs.

Fulham Team Statistics Arsenal
0 Goals 1
0 1st Half Goals 0
8 Shots on Target 4
8 Shots off Target 10
4 Blocked Shots 2
4 Corners 6
15 Fouls 13
4 Offsides 2
4 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
66.9 Passing Success 77.2
28 Tackles 20
75 Tackles Success 55
48.9 Possession 51.1
51.1 Territorial Advantage 48.9

16 thoughts on “Fulham spread play through channels but are thwarted by Manonne heriocs

  1. There are many positives to take away.
    Clichy is getting back into the groove(not at his best though). We are able to win matches without Arshavin on song. Robin Van Persie scored a goal. It will give him immense confidence and might be the first of many. With Denilson and Nasri still to come, we are genuine contenders.
    Last but not the least, the biggest plus was Don Vito.
    By the way, was this article written by you Brain?

  2. Sometimes I have to ask myself why the hell Diaby is on the pitch. Yesterday was one of those days. He didn’t seem to get anything done right the whole game. Arsene must have justified the inclusion of Diaby by the fact that we need heights in the box. Alas, but for Mannone’s 80th minute wonder-save, Zamora would have scored a cracking goal by outjumping Diaby by a few feet.

    Anyway, yesterday, even Cesc missed most of his passes and even Rosicky looked a bit spontaneous for most of the time he came in. I guess it would be unfair for Diaby.

    Besides, I’m more pleased that we won this game than the 6-1 thumbing of Everton. We were outplayed. Our gameplan wasn’t working. We had only the guts to put on the table. Yet our defense were in focus throughout and our attacking players looked to be beyond their own frustration.

    I’m also happy for RvP’s goal. Great interception -> great pass -> great touch. The finish was made to look like formality. All of this was strung together perfectly in a moment when we were supposed to be frustrated and nervous. We look to have got the mentality and the steel required.

  3. i’m rather infuriated with diaby. i didnt think that his midfield cover was enough to justify the staggering number of times he gave away the ball. within the last 20 minutes alone, he gave the ball away 2-3 times and then committed a foul just 30 yards from our goal and jeopardized the entire match. he was awful, always dribbling into trouble and passing into nothingness. a “black hole of possession” on days like this one.

    also semi-responsible for the zamora header on goal. didnt even jump with zamora right in front.

    song was disappointing. held on to the ball too long and passed into nothingness. should be more efficient when alone. needs denilson to be effective.

    fabregas didnt have a good game. tightly marked and didn’t have enough space to work magic. frustrated.

    v.persie isolated. not played in by bendtner on a number of occasions. bendtner choosing to make inaccurate shots instead.

    clichy walking a tightrope between attack and defense that requires denilson’s help. almost caught out on a number of occasions. lucky.

    fulham choosing his side of the pitch as a public walkway. counter attacks and almost-goals happened from that side.

    arshavin nonexistent. should dribble more often.

    game plan didn’t work.

    we obviously miss denilson very very much. he is the missing piece of our puzzle.

  4. I can reveal it was me who wrote this article. I’m quite surprised some thought otherwise but I would like to know why (are my articles lacking in humour normally?). I’m a big believer in confidence in sport so maybe in that aspect I was a bit harsh with the match as there’s plenty psychologically to take away.

    Ole Gunner: I like Diaby, I really do. It’s his mental side that needs work (i.e. decision-making and understanding of role) because he has all the tools to be a great midfielder. His short passing, running and tackling I have no qualms about.

    1. ahh i see . . . but the same could be true if you were really . . . (dramatic expression, austin powers voice) two different people in one!

  5. I like your humour man!! ” working harder for the cause than dwight yorke’s toothbrush…” lol love this.

    check this one: “verminator is the best thing to have come out of belgium after stella artoir”..lol

  6. I think we really need to make better use of set-pieces like corners..we had 6 corners and really should have tested the keeper and Fulham’s defence a little more. Most of the time the ball was swung in almost directly to Schwarzer. If we can get more goals from corners, it would go a long way in helping to settle a tie quickly.

    1. ya true, especially the ones from the left side ( taken by fab or arsha). It seems every corner taken by fab is easilly intercepted by defenders stationed at the near post. It never go beyond the 1st defender, and it’s been like that ever since he played for us as a teenager…why can’t he swings it a little harder and higher? while 9 out of 10 corners from arsha will go straingt to the keeper’s hands, as if he was aiming to put the ball into the pair of gloves rather than a teammate’s head…we are wasting potential scoring chances unneccesarily….

  7. This season is huge for Diaby. He is getting a run in the 1st team and needs to cement a spot.

    However we still use the word “potential” for this guy. Its not like he is 18/19. He is 23. I know its still relatively young but at some point we have to say “this is the type of player he is”. Unfortunately for me he will always be consistently inconsistent

  8. Previously, Wenger mentioned that Diaby is more of an offensive support. He is a link between attack and midfield. Whereas Denilson is more of a defensive support, constantly covering space left behind by the left winger. Clichy looked more balanced then. Denilsons injury has affected clichy’s performance as Diaby is not as hard working as Denilson.
    I am not criticising Diaby. I like him as a player. But Denilson adds more balance to the team.

    We were cruising until Wenger decided to tack denilson out against Man City. Just shows his impact.

    1. i agree very much.

      balance is the key word.

      to address that issue, i thought wenger should have included eboue in some way. eboue works so hard on offense and defense, i think his recent performances have warranted a start.

  9. I have I small question.
    I started following football only from last year so I never had a chance to watch the Invincibles play. I know they were great at counter attacks. What was their main strategy. Did they play possession football? Did they play a high line?

  10. It wasn’t Song who passed to Fabregas for the goal.

    Song one-touched pass to Bendtner, Bendtner one-touched pass to Fabregas, Fabregas takes a touch and puts the ball over for van Persie. It was a great job by Song and Bendtner, they did exactly what Fabregas needs: his speedy vision requires the him to get the ball asap if we’re going to beat the touch teams with nice goals.

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