For those that have been waiting for me to write a match report from Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to Fulham, I’m sorry. There will be no report today. Or ever. It was that painful.
Instead, I will quickly run through the key points to take out of the game and attempt to convince you that this loss is not the worst thing in the world and that this Arsenal side still possess the attributes necessary to win a major trophy this season.
The game can be summarised as follows: Arsenal had no midfield, a captain who performed some of the most feeble defending I’ve ever seen and a manager who got a couple of key team selections all wrong. Kolo Toure should never have been brought back in the place of Johan Djourou and a still rusty Robin van Persie should not have returned in the place of Nicklas Bendtner. In theory Toure and van Persie might be better players but on current form and general sharpness the other two are streets ahead.
Although not one person played well the obvious problem was the midfield. Denilson was woeful and the combination of him and Emmanuel Eboue should never be repeated. They were OK against West Bromwich Albion but this was just ridiculous.
I’ve said quite a few times but Denilson is just not ready to be relied upon and that’s even when Cesc Fabregas is playing. He might become a good player in two or three years but he’s just not there yet. In my opinion he’s still well short of the quality needed to play consistently at that level and will continue to be found out if Wenger sticks with him. I’m sorry to be harsh on the youngster but that’s the way I feel.
Although I sound very, very negative today I do think Arsenal can win the Premiership. But on one condition – that Arsene Wenger make the signing that every single Arsenal supporter knows he needs to make. The manager has said that a defensive midfielder is coming in and it absolutely has to happen. If it doesn’t then I think Arsenal are in some big trouble. If it does and as long as they are a quality player, then this side will bounce back.
Our goalkeeper is a good enough. Our centre-backs are good enough. Our wing-backs are good enough. Our wingers are good enough. Our strikers are good enough. Our central midfielders are NOT good enough. Simple as that.
Cesc Fabregas is good enough. Abou Diaby is good enough. Denilson, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song are not good enough yet. They might be in two or three years but they’re not good enough right now. And for those that point to Mathieu Flamini not being good enough before the start of last season – let me say that I always felt he was good enough and we had Gilberto Silva and Lassana Diarra as cover at the time.
I think Diaby is good enough to partner Fabregas full-time – and I think Wenger sees him as the Spaniard’s long-term partner – but the problem is that he is unreliable. It’s sad to say but the guy just can’t stay fit. And even if he could stay fit for the entire season that still only leaves the squad with two centre-midfielders who are up to scratch. A good squad should be rotating three or four around as the season progresses to keep everyone fresh and healthy and at the moment this is just not possible.
Wenger said last week that a signing would be made before the second-leg against FC Twente. That game is now only two days away so if I don’t see a photo of Gareth Barry, Xabi Alonso, Gokhan Inler or Stephen Appiah (heh heh) holding up an Arsenal shirt on the official website before then I think I’m going to have a nervous breakdown. Seriously.
What I will stress as my final point is that if Wenger does make the appropriate signing then I honestly think we will be alright. As I said above, the quality and depth is there in every department except in the middle of the pitch. It’s time for Wenger to remind all the supporters again why we’ve grown to love him so much over all of these years.
And that’s all I’ll say on the matter.
There is of course another important game against FC Twente in midweek and what will surely turn out to be a tough Saturday afternoon encounter with Newcastle United. Fabregas will be back soon and hopefully he will be joined in the middle of the pitch by the man who he desperately wants to play alongside. Or any of the other three midfielders I mentioned above.
My fingers, toes and everything else I can think of will be crossed. I hope yours are too.
Have your say on Arsenal v Fulham and the desperate need to sign a midfielder by leaving a comment.