Fulham Preview: No Messing About, Total Embarrassment Must Be Avoided
Arsenal host Europa League finalists Fulham on the last day of the season at the Emirates, unexpectedly having to gain a point to secure that all important third place which guarantees a place in the Champions League group stages and avoids the tricky preliminary play-offs. I dare say not many Arsenal fans would have expected this scenario 3 weeks ago, but here we are and the team better turn up with a better attitude than they did against Blackburn last week, or we might just face the ultimate embarrassment.
Sunday’s finale versus Fulham is not the title decider Arsenal fans were dreaming of. Before the Tottenham game on the 14th April, we were fighting for the title and well clear of our North London rivals who were scrapping for fourth place. However, our fortunes have changed drastically since that fateful defeat at Sh*te Hart Lane. Spurs have won 4 out of their last 5 games, while Arsenal have only managed to pick up a solitary point from their last 4. This has culminated in a tense last day for Gooners, and an Arsenal defeat combined with a Tottenham victory would see our bitter rivals steal third place from under our noses. Unlikely, but possible.
Arsene Wenger had a little dig at Tottenham, well i like to think it was a dig anyway, when he compares how the two teams celebrate the ‘achievment’ of finishing in the champions league places.
“You could see when you look at our rivals, you know that everybody celebrates. We don’t do that anymore because we have [qualified] for so many years that everybody finds it normal. It is not normal – it is the consequences of the quality performances during the season and it is not because we are Arsenal that we are guaranteed that.”
The most important thing from today is a professional display from the Arsenal players. If they turn up with the right attitude and realise what’s at stake, we will get the point required. Play with the lethargic attitude of last Monday’s defeat to Blackburn and we could be in trouble. Fulham are no mugs and will not Lie down as many seem to think they will.
Yes they will have one eye on the Europa League Final and Roy Hodgsen will probably quite rightly rest some of his key players. But i would actually prefer him to play his first team. They will be far more concerned about getting injured than any of the back up players who will play out of their skins in an attempt to win a place in Hodgsen’s European Final eleven. Trust me, if the Fulham ‘reserve’ team play today, they will be well up for it. So Arsenal need to be as well.
Unsurprisingly, as with most games this season, Arsenal have a whole host of injury worries. Fabregas, Gallas, Vermaelen, Denilson, Almunia, Ramsey, Rosicky, Song and Bendtner are all definitely out. While Clichy has a chance after missing the Blackburn game last week with an ankle problem. Quite an impressive team could be made up of those absent players. How many sides could make do without that lot and still be able to field a strong eleven? Not many.
Predicted Starting Eleven:
Sagna Campbell Silvestre Clichy
If Clichy is fit, he should be the only change in the back five, with under-fire Fabianski given one last chance to show what he can do. But it should already be too late for him to convince Arsene Wenger he is ready to be Arsenal’s No.1 next season. I hope Eastmond is given a go in the holding role supported by Nasri and Diaby. Eboue in the middle doesn’t work for me. Theo needs to impress Capello so let him loose on the right with Arshavin hopefully ready to show the Gunners faithful he is ready to fight for the Red & White shirt on the left. Van the man up top and that team should be good enough to secure third.
No messing about Arsene, no experiments, no blooding too many youngsters, just put the best possible team out and get the job done. With champions league football secured for another year, you can then go and make the necessary signings to ensure this time next year we will be parading a nice shiny premier league trophy at the Emirates!
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