Monday, August 13, 2007

Arsenal 2 - Fulham 1

And so it begins. The first game of the season and I am reduced to keeping track of the game via a mixture of mobile phone, internet and radio. Beforehand I had been mentally preparing for what to write if we suffered a bit of a thrashing, and then within the first minute we've taken the lead! Cue an hour and three quarters of pensive excitement followed by, the inevitable, two late goals and a disappointing finish.

MOTD2 provided me with a brief glimpse of what the game was like and largely confirmed the reports coming from TFI. Tony Warner replaced Niemi in goal (who injured his hand in the warm up) and proceeded to have an absolute blinder. The team as a whole looked well drilled, with the defence in particular gaining praise for a solid performance. We played a very high line at the back, which is not easy to do, but for over 80 minutes succeeded in implementing it very well. We also created a few decent chances and it was pleasing to see Healy capitalise on the early mistake by Lehmann, a chance that could easily have been spurned. The penalty that brought Arsenal back into the game, seemed clear cut to me, and there had also been an earlier challenge by Baird on Hleb that was equally deserving. Fabregas did clip Steven Davis' heel in the second half, and I feel if the ref had seen it we would have got a penalty as well. Following the penalty it seemed that tired legs (and minds) got the better of us and, as Fabregas found more time to control the game, this led to our defence being caught slightly flat footed for the winning goal.

Overall, whilst we were undoubtedly unlucky not to claim a point, we cannot be too upset with the final result. The team looked like they all understood their roles, and the effort and application was excellent. This bodes well for the season ahead, now we have to turn a performance into points.

The team lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows;
  • GK 12 A.Warner
  • RB 34 C.Baird
  • CB 06 Z.Knight
  • CB 03 C.Bocanegra
  • LB 04 P.Konchesky
  • RM 25 S.Davies
  • CM 10 S.Davis
  • CM 08 A.Smertin
  • LM 24 H.Bouazza
  • ST 20 B.McBride (C)
  • ST 09 D.Healy
Subs: 02 M.Volz, 11 D.Kamara (for 9), 23 C.Dempsey (for 24), 14 P.B.Diop (for 8), 22 E.Omozusi

Rich of CCN went to the match and has got an excellent report (with photos) here. For the Arsenal perspective check out DT's views at Gillespie Road and if you're really a glutton for punishment there are more at East Lower and A Cultured Left Foot. That's all probably a bit over the top, but it's the first game of the season and I'm getting a bit carried away.

In other news The Sunday Times suggest that Sanchez has offered to swap Liam Rosenior for Reading's Icelandic central defender Ivar Ingimarsson and Korean midfielder Ki-Hyeon Seol. Liam wasn't in the squad today and the rumour about Reading's interest has been raised before, especially with Reading's current right back, Nicky Shorey the subject of interest from West Ham. The less reliable News of the World are reporting that we are preparing a £600,000 bid for Paris Saint Germain centre-back Sammy Traore.

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