Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"I've got a bad feeling about this"

Arsenal lost 1-nil to Fulham on Saturday. Fulham. Arsenal beat newly promoted West Brom 1-nil in the season opener. West Brom. Arsenal beat FC Twente 2-nil in a Champions League qualifier on August 13. FC Twente.

Arsenal sold or let go Flamini, Hleb, Hoyte, Diarra, Gilberto, Senderos, Traore and Lehmann.

Arsenal brought in Nasri, Bischoff, Silvestre, Ramsey, and (welcomed back) Vela and Djourou.

Arsenal are missing Eduardo and Rosicky to long-term injury.

Arsenal have arguably two of the best left/right backs in the league in Clichy and Sagna. In central defence, however, is a pairing in Toure and Gallas who, while quality, have been out of sync the majority of their time together.

In the middle of the park, Arsenal feature one of the very best at his position in the world, in spite of his age, in Fabregas. He is paired with Diaby, a man with unlimited potential who also holds a frequent buyer's card for the training room. With Diaby out, Fabregas is paired with Denilson, a deft passer with vision, but an extreme lack of experience, mettle, strength or stability. Plugged in during Fabregas' brief spell on the sidelines is Eboue. A man reviled by most in the world who enjoy football for a myriad of reasons which would take entirely too long to list here.

On the wings, Arsenal feature Nasri and Walcott. One was flies like the wind, but is also slight enough to be carried by the lighest of its breezes, while the other features a balance, skill, drive and upbringing that compares him to The All-Time Great.

In the front, Diaby's tour-guide to the training room, Robin van Persie. As skilled a striker of the ball as there is on the team, he's also the man who put about five free kicks directly into the Fulham wall on Saturday. There's Adebayor and Bendtner too. Both huge, powerful, rangy and capable of buckets of goals. Both eager to show they belong. Both press enough to draw their shots high, wide and all-too-often away from the mark. Vela, too, waits his turn with bags of pace, trickery and a nose for goal. But he posseses no credibility, no qualifications. Yet.

And so, Arsenal were losers on Saturday to a Fulham team that featured Danny Murphy and Jimmy Bullard, a pair that made Denilson look as if he'd seen a ghost and had to drop everything to run in the opposite direction. They featured veteren Mark Schwarzer who plucked cross after cross after cross out of the air. And Fulham poured forward to steal a goal and three points from a corner kick that saw Clichy - so quick to fly up the left flank - rooted to the near post, and Gallas - so desperate to prove himself a leader - lose his man yet again.

So yeah, I've got a bad feeling about this.