Writer: Brice Coffer
Date:Friday September 25 2009
Arsenal faces Fulham Saturday evening, and the Cottagers have been a tricky opponent for the Gunners in the last few seasons. Roy Hodgson's side was one of only two teams to take 4 points off Arsenal last season. If we have title aspirations, then only getting one point off of our West London neighbours is not good enough. This is a game we must win, and you'll see later in the quotes section, the opinion in the dressing room is exactly the same.
As I said earlier, Arsenal feels they need to win this match. Here is van Persie's view on the trip to SW6.
'It is very, very tough,' he said. 'I saw the game against Everton and they were very decent and it was a very good goal from Damien Duff. It's going to be hard but as long as we can put the pressure on the opponent, play together and share the goals then I'm quite confident.'
'If you look last year, the way Manchester United became champions was against the smaller teams. They won against all the teams from 19 to 10. That is why they became champions. So it is very important to win these games maybe even more in the end.'
While it is probably unfair to class Fulham as a bottom half team, the gist of the argument is still correct.
Fulham are struggling for goals this season, but they beat us and Manchester United at Craven Cottage, so visitors beware.
Erik Nevland, Andrew Johnson, and Simon Davies are all out.
Murphy has been an integral part of Fulham's success over the past 18 months. He runs the midfield well, and in last season's clash, there was not a better player on the pitch. That needs to change tomorrow.
Last season I listened to an interview with van Persie, and he had an interesting take on the defeat to Fulham. He talked about the sense of disbelief on the bus ride home after the Fulham match last August. Well it's not really that interesting, because it was pretty obvious to us supporters, but nevertheless, hearing the admission of guilt from a player made it interesting to me at least. They thought they were entitled to those three points.
I don't expect that to happen this year. Arsenal will be focused and ready to inflict some revenge and regain a little pride.
Some positive injury news coming out of Colin Lewin's office yesterday is that Arshavin is fit and van Persie has most likely recovered from a slight problem. Almunia is still out however, and Wenger seems indecisive on who will guard the net, after Szczesny good preformance against West Brom.
Predicted Starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Diaby, Fabregas, Arshavin, van Persie, Eduardo
Robin has spoken out about his disappointment in his own goal tally for this season, and I think he'll grab one today.
Martin Atkinson will be the head official for this one. He was also the ref in last season match at Craven Cottage.
If the games tied at 90 minutes, I expect a minimum of 6 minutes of added time......
I said I'd be happy with a 1-0 win against Wigan, and I'd gladly take a 1-0 win here as well. van Persie to nick a goal for the red and white.
29/9 (Tue) - Olympiacos (h) - Champions League
4/10 (Sun) - Blackburn (h) - Premier League
17/10 (Sat) - Birmingham (h) - Premier League
The match will be on ESPN in England, and FSC in the States.
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Date:Friday September 25 2009
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