About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Here Comes The Car Crash

The all too predictable decline of Arsenal continued apace yesterday with a result and performance which squarely places the Gunners in the growing pack of clubs secure in their Premier League status and chasing the fourth qualifying Champions League spot. 
Since moving to Ashburton Grove Arsenal have regularly lost world class players, with their good but not great replacements seeing a title challenge fade further onto the horizon. The presentation of the dates of trophy wins around the new stadium seems to have frozen the honour roll in aspic, as Arsenal have fallen victim to a modern football malaise, the fetishisation of history and tradition. In this way the club has become a theme park where spectators buy a ticket to bathe in the warm glow of history before watching the men in red destroy the opposition in style.
Unfortunately the latter half of the equation is becoming an increasingly rare occurrence as the current playing staff do not have the ability to work within a formation which puts a premium on attacking play. Thus when the much maligned centre forward Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski had propelled Arsenal into an early two goal lead, Fulham had no fear in their capacity for a comeback. With Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov mystifying the Arsenal defence with their free running across the Arsenal half, and the painful exposure of the red flanks by Podolski and Walcott's defensive deficiencies when required to protect their respective full backs, Berbatov's swift response was met with a comment from a weary season ticket holder in front of me of "here comes the car crash".
His words were a response to not just the Schalke comeback in midweek but the regular house of cards quality Arsenal now display when they don't have the ball. Sure enough Alex Kacaniklic soon equalised and Fulham almost took the lead before half time.
However when Berbatov completed the fait accompli from the penalty spot Arsenal sparked back into life, equalising straight away when Giroud redeemed himself for hitting the post when well placed by getting on the end of a Walcott cross when the ball was put pack into the box. Yet although Arsenal looked capable of taking the lead the aforementioned defensive frailty and the way in which the central midfield pair Arteta and Ramsey were regularly caught in possession meant Fulham looked equally threatening. All of which might seem to have created an all action environment beloved of the champions of the greatest league in the world theory but left me mourning the domestic death of the art of defending. Then again judging by the criticism of Spain and their perfect game plan of keeping the ball to ensure the opposition do not score, whilst waiting for their opportunity to arise, I guess I'm of a minority view.
Deep into stoppage time it was Arsenal who were provided with the chance to take all three points, somewhat harshly it seems, when they were awarded a penalty for handball. This gave Arteta the perfect opportunity to redeem his sin of giving a spot kick to Fulham earlier, but his spot kick, although well directed into the corner, did not send Schwarzer the wrong way, and with the ball fizzing along the ground the keeper was able to keep it out with the final touch of the game.
This was a match neither team decided to win or lose, with the main conclusion being that they are two very equal elevens, with plenty of attacking flair but no security at the back.


Lenny Baryea said...

Watched the game and have enjoyed reading both your and Arseblog's thoughts on it.

Arsenal looked relatively comfortable at 2-0. Which makes the Fulham opener all the more crucial. How was a corner allowed to travel well into the six yard box? Should be keeper's ball, if not a defender's. Mannone should've done better for their second as well.

Wenger has many problems to sort (an over reliance on injury prone players - Diaby and Gibbs - in certain positions, for example), but signing an experienced, top class keeper to push WS would be a good start.

Alan Drewett Jnr said...

Arsenal comfortable at 2-0? Were we both at the same game. Fulham we're very comfortable in possession and apart from Arsenals two chances, they were pedestrian for the most of the first half. Both teams looked poor defensively and if Arteta converted the 93rd minute penalty, it would have been an injustice to Fulham.