Don’t know about you but I am glad that this season is ending. It’s hard to see a turnaround in the way this current side is playing without a proper break. The summer will be an agonizing period for all of us addicted to the beautiful game and the Arsenal, even more so for those who hate waking up to nonsensical transfer rumours, but it is a necessary evil at this stage. As I think about that I have to salute the fans that will be travelling to Craven Cottage. That kind of support deserves better accolades than anything I can imagine.
I guess some of you must have realized I don’t really have any hopes from this game. Fulham has been a tough place to visit of late and I don’t see that changing on Sunday.
The key battle against Fulham is always in midfield. At the Emirates this season they started off with a conservative approach and held back. This allowed Arsenal to dominate. But once the Gunners scored, Fulham pushed forward and pressed us really well in midfield. Coupled with a simple tactic of hoofing the ball over the top of the central defenders, this was an effective approach to bring the game back to 1-1. Only some magical footwork and finishing from Nasri saved the day for Arsenal.
I expect the hosts to play with an aggressive approach right from the start. On the positive side, that will inevitably leave space behind their defence, something that Arsenal crave for but rarely find. However, in the past the Gunners have struggled to use this space effectively, especially when Cesc has been missing. Theo can be unstoppable in this game if the midfielders show they can hold of pressure and find the right through balls.
Fulham’s attack, like almost all our opponents, will be completely predictable but that hasn’t stopped other teams from scoring and I don’t expect to see a clean sheet from the Gunners in this game either. Long balls around the Left-Back and over the top of the central defenders will lead to goals either from open play or from set-pieces. Won’t it be ironical if Senderos turns out to be the big centre-back who scores against us!
I have said this quite often in the recent past but will repeat it again. Song and Wilshere have to play a lot deeper than they have been playing. In all probability, Fulham will come out to play higher up the pitch but if they don’t then Arsenal have to lure them out. We must not play the sideways passing game in front of the Fulham box.
I also believe Wilshere will need better support from the left sided attacker because he is completely exhausted. Playing Arshavin will be a huge risk as we have seen in the last few games.
The attacking job must be left to RvP, Theo and Ramsey. Wilshere must pull the string from deep. Song should provide cover on the right while a defensive minded player supports the left. If Nasri is fit he would do the job in front of Clichy or Gibbs.
This game can lead to a goal-fest if Arsenal score early, but it could also be a tough midfield battle if Fulham get one in.
The starting line-up is difficult to predict as there are many players who will be undergoing a fitness test.
Szczesny – Sagna, ?, Vermaelen, Gibbs/Clichy – Song, Ramsey, Wilshere/Diaby – Walcott, RvP, Nasri/Arshavin/Bendtner.
It will be nice to finish on a high but I also believe that having expectations in such cases is an open invitation to misery.