The response... #arsful #arsempty
Arsenal 4-1 Fulham
With wounds still open and sores gaping with oozing puss Arsenal looked to get back to winning ways against a Fulham side that had never won at the Emirates. This game was all about how Arsenal would respond to the whipping they took at the hands of Liverpool, a chance to see if, like under Wenger, Unai's Arsenal could bounce back with style.
The team news saw a return to a back three with Maitland Niles and Kolasinac bombing on as wing backs. Lacazette and Aubameyang both starting ensuring goals at least!
Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Arsenal failed to start fast, choosing possession over any real penetration, caught in the headlights of the last outing, too scared to make the final pass, often going back towards goal, that being said a very presettable chance did fall to Aubameyang he failed to hit the target after good work from Iwobi.
Those wounds I mentioned earlier were nearly dealt a large dollop of salt as twice Sessegnon failed to finish when presented with absolute sitters. One long pass found him one on one with Leno, and then moments later a cross from the left for a tap in, both lines fluffed in spectacular fashion.
It's hard to know as an Arsenal fan seeing these chances come and go whoever is in the back line and what ever formation is thrown together is just something the collective will just have to get used to, or whether is it time for the pitch forks? I mean it's Fulham FFS!!
Arsenal got the lead not long after that missed chance after Koscielny got forward, pushing Xhaka into the Fulham box, this event seemed to surprise the opposition defence along with most Arsenal fans, Xhaka doing a Ramsey? The outcome was a smart finish, 1-0 Arsenal 25 mins.
Still Arsenal presented the relegation threatened outfit with yet another chance, Mitrovic heading straight at Leno before two more chances for Arsenal, first Xhaka again with a shot blocked after Kolasinac had burst through and cut the ball back and then Aubameyang with a guilt edge header just past the post from an Iwobi cross. That should have been two, but in fairness that really should have 2-3, a very open end to end game got to the break, Arsenal somehow 1-0 up!
The routine half time change was also a formation switch with Mustafi getting hooked (why did he start?) and Torriera coming on thus switching Arsenal to a 4-4-2. Did this make Arsenal look more solid?
It seemed to confuse, in fact for the first two minutes Arsenal looked very shaky indeed, failing to get forward and using Leno far too much. It was from his long punt that Arsenal managed to double their lead however, on 56 mins, Iwobi to Aubameyang, Kolasinac into the box, cuts it back, and Lacazette was there to take a touch then smash it into the back of the net from 12 yards out. 2-0 to Arsenal, Fulham heads and hearts broken?
Nearly, they rode their luck a bit with a couple more Arsenal chances before getting back into the game in the 69th minute. Torriera seemed to be fouled or just caught in possession (a la Liverpool), two passes later Kamara was free at the back post to tap in. 2-1 Arsenal.
Just like the Burnley game, the feeling was a nasty one, but just like against Burnley the game turned on a decision. Unai's substitutions can sometimes leave the Arsenal fans looking quizzical, on 75 mins it also left a few feeling cheesed off as well. As Ramsey came on for Lacazette, you could hear the boos, Lacazette doing his best to quell the disquiet.
Or he could be saying, "Oh thanks very much, you don't know what you're doing you *@*k!
It took five minutes until the decision was justified, the ball worked well down the left by Kolasinac who crossed, Aubameyang meeting it and hitting the post, the ball rebounding to Ramsey who took a touch and side-footed into the far side of the net. 3-1 and game over for sure! Two minutes later it was four, Aubameyang's deflected shot leaving the keeper with little chance at the back post, 4-1 and yes, now game over!
A must win, and 3 points gained, but boy the result doesn't match the performance. Very lucky not to go in 3 down at halftime, a 4-1 this game wasn't!
Positives: The response was a win!
Negatives: 4-4-4, 3-5-2, 3-3-3-1, 5-1-3-1 the result is the same, Arsenal can't defend!
Leno: Looks worried at what he's stuck behind. 7/10
Maitland-Niles: Got forward well, looks confident, too confident at times. 7/10
Sokratis: Kept the Fulham danger man quiet. 7/10
Koscielny: Looked a bit fitter. 7/10
Mustafi: Just stop it, got hooked, I will drive him anywhere. 4/10
Kolasinac: Great going forward, no crazy challenges at the back. 7/10
Xhaka: Got the party started with a goal, still sloppy at times. 7/10
Guendouzi: Everywhere, but does witch off defensively, especially for the goal. 7/10
Iwobi: Did very well in the first half, gaining in confidence, still a bit sloppy. 7/10
Lacazette: Great goal and very unlucky to come off. MOM: 8/10
Aubameyang: Finally made the keeper work but missed x3 easier chances. 7/10
Torriera: Got caught for the goal or fouled, becoming a target. 6/10
Ramsey: Got the goal that mattered, sign him up?. 8/10
Saka: Kid gets on barely got a touch (not his fault). 1/10
Next up the FA Cup distracts everyone with an away trip to jolly Blackpool. Meanwhile it's January, so lets all dwell on transfers...