Hleb gets the ball rolling

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Captain Gallas celebrates a fantastic comebackArsenal 2-1 Fulham Match Report

Arsenal got their Premiership season off to a perfect start with a thrilling 2-1 win over fellow Londoners Fulham. The home side fell behind in the opening minute following a catostrophic error from German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann and proceeded to pepper the Fulham goal until Kolo Toure won the penalty to allow Robin van Persie to level the match in the 84th minute. Arsenal completed the marvellous fightback when Alexander Hleb finished cleverly in the 90th minute after a lovely lofted pass from Cesc Fabregas.

I watched the game live via PSi and was quite impressed with the peformance by Arsenal. It was a real shame to go behind again at the Emirates Stadium – especially to the awful goalkeeping bungle that Lehmann produced – but the resiliance shown by Arsene Wenger’s young team was very encouraging. Before van Persie’s penalty broke Fulham’s back their goalkeeper Tony Warner – who was called in before kick-off after an injury in warm-up to first-choice keeper Anti Niemi – had the game of his life and made some great saves from the likes of Tomas Rosicky, van Persie and Hleb. Even Toure had a shot cleared off the line before Arsenal finally found the net.

Hleb slots home his well-taken winnerHleb stars as a support striker

I have to be honest and say that I got rather panicky from the 70th minute onwards with the score at 0-1. The game was in so many ways a repeat of last season with Arsenal having all the play but struggling to find the finish to match their good work. But the side continued to play good football as the half wore on and received their rewards after Toure was felled in the area after a lovely run and van Persie confidently converted the penalty. At 1-1 and with Nicklas Bendtner rampaging around up front for the final ten minutes Arsenal were always a good chance to eventually win it and they did so when Hleb finished calmly after chesting down a lovely pass from Fabregas.

The team lined up exactly as I predicted yesterday – with the exception of Mathieu Flamini starting alongside Fabregas in the centre of the park. As usual, Flamini had a good game, giving it is all and justifying his selection in front of the likes of Denilson and Abou Diaby (where has he got off to?). There was no place for Eduardo da Silva as Hleb started in behind van Persie and Bacary Sagna made an assured debut on the right side of defence. Everyone did quite well – Hleb and Rosicky were particularly effective – but the defence did look a little shaky at times. This was mostly the case when Sagna, Clichy and co attempted to play their way out of defence under immense pressure from Fulham when a long hoof upfield would have been the better option.

Robin van Persie crashes home his penaltyAn encouraging start to the season

Remarkably, Lehmann bounced back after his horrendous start and Emmanuel Eboue did not look out of place on the right side of midfield. There will be many people who criticise the fact that Arsenal missed so many chances but in all reality the boys hit the target more than they missed and the difficulty they had in finding a goal was more down to the goalkeeping of Warner than poor finishing. It was great to see van Persie smash home his penalty under intense pressure and even better to see Hleb take a shot late on when last season he may have passed to Bendtner or van Persie. He was duly rewarded with a winning goal that will do his confidence the world of good.

So, whilst most people expected a comfortable win for Arsenal, Fulham proved to be a tough nut to crack in the opening match. I mentioned yesterday that the result was more important than the performance for the game and I felt that Arsenal performed admirably and won the match. With champions Manchester United dropping points at home to Reading, Wayne Rooney breaking his foot again and Chelsea pushed all the way by Birmingham you have to feel that the Premiership is anyone’s for the taking this season. Let’s hope that the boys can build from this performance and do the job against Sparta Prague on Wednesday.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal’s exciting win over Fulham by leaving a comment.

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Conrad Pinnin’s “pimpin pimpin”Arsenal FC Blog Fantasy League – Round 1 Update

The first round of Fantasy Premier League kicked off on the weekend and there was some lovely, and some not-so-lovely, performances from some of the teams entered in the Arsenal FC Blog Fantasy League. There were 43 teams entered before the round began and the top scoring side was Conrad Pinnin’s oddly named outfit; pimpin pimpin, which scored 64 points. Conrad’s midfield contained Michael Essien, Steven Gerrard and Cesc Fabregas who all got goals and he was also smart enough to put in Robin van Persie as captain for the round. It’s still pretty tight at the top with BudDozers, BERKELEYharriers, Enfants Terribles and my own team Arsenal FC Blog all cracking the 60-point mark. The next round is only a couple of days away, and with Arsenal out of action with Champions League duty I think many managers’ benches will come into play. Thank goodness I have Carlos Tevez sitting there waiting patiently! Good luck!

To join the Arsenal FC Blog Fantasy Premier League click here.


36 thoughts on “Hleb gets the ball rolling

  1. “but in all reality the boys hit the target more than they missed and the difficulty they had in finding a goal was more down to the goalkeeping of Warner than poor finishing.” A day worth noting, I have to disagree with this SF. We did hit the target. Right straight at the target. Only Rosicky’s shot in the first half tested the corners of the net. and it was heading out of bounds, as I was 5 feet behind it. We created loads of chances last year too. We have to be more ruthless in fron of the net. We hit nearly every shot DIRECTLY at Warner, only Hlebs goal and Toures sreamer(which beat the GK only to be cleared off the line. Watch all of our shots again. You will find we made the keepr look amazing. Not to detract from his performance completely.. he still had to block the shots. All Im saying is we lack a predatory finishing instinct. I said at the beginning of the game that i was worried as to where the goals might come from.. I think we may see a more predatory team with Eduardo and RVP together. 85 mins of last season though.. coming back and showing great spirit is fantastic. I just think this team should be punishing these teams as opposed to chasing it(for whatever reason.)

  2. I have hear a song for Arsenal. I ready to send you the rhythm on request! Thanks

    Arise! Arose! Arisen!

    Arise arose arisen
    Be quiet and don’t be silly
    We are the famous gunners
    We never say die!
    (2 times)

    Arsenal XI… is a mighty team! 4X

  3. NIX what was noticable in that game was the fact that we finished on the chances created. Last season it was about having the ball inside the box without attempting to hit the target and the few attempts made always were off target. This time, almost any chance created was completed and though not perfectly, always fell between the posts. To me that’s a great improvement and a very crucial one coz our boys are now getting the confidence they need to be the best.

    A combination of Eduardo and RVP is good but when playing with physical teams (like chelsea) it might not work. i’d prefer to see a combination of Adebayor&RVP as the starting favourites with Bentdner coming in for Ade and Eduardo coming in for RVP when necesary.

  4. Before the end of the transfer deadline,Name 1 player who realistically Arsenal get and would be perfect for the team and your reasons for this,If I had to pick someone I’d go for Yoan Gouffran because he can score goals and is quick and generally made for Arsenal,your thoughts!
    1.Ricardo Quaresma
    2.Yoan Gouffran
    3.Artur Boruc
    4.Luka Modric
    5.Wesley Sneijder
    6.Morten Gamst Pedersen
    8.Curtis Davies
    9.Samuel Eto’o

  5. “This time, almost any chance created was completed and though not perfectly, always fell between the posts. To me that’s a great improvement”

    I have to agree with this. Sorry sam nix 🙂

  6. Knightman.. appreciate your comments. The fact is, again, we didnt finish our chances. Getting them on target instead of wide is OK, but they need to go into the net. Finishing the game 4-1 would have been an improvement. Scraping a win in the last minute isnt a huge improvement. We didnt look any diff yesterday than we did often last season. We create lots of chances. What we dont do is finish them. fact. Thats is why I commented on having Eduardo in their to finsh the chances we create within the box.

  7. if you guys feel getting marginally more shots on target as opposed to wide is a great improvement, then I am worried. We can create 100’s of chances a game, but not finishing them renders it pointless. We finished one chance yesterday. One chance. On target is fine, but I feel we will witness another season like last if we do not finish.

  8. I feel that the effort was the improvement. Too often last season Arsenal refused to take shots on goal at all – in this game there were plenty of attempts. Rosicky was quite one-tracked with his decision making and van Persie and even Hleb could fall into that category as well. Look at Toure’s effort in the second half. The fact is that the boys WANTED to take shots and I think that is the improvement that knightman is talking about. How was the atmosphere in the stadium, sam nix?

  9. “This time, almost any chance created was completed and though not perfectly, always fell between the posts. To me that’s a great improvement”

    We completed plenty of attacks last year too. We had more chances than we had the seaosn we went undefeated. But we didnt finish them then… and we didnt finish them yesterday.

  10. Atmosphere was quiet as we conceeded so early. Fulham suporters made all the noise. Bendtner created the biggest buzz. I though Hleb ran the show. Dropping back to collect from defense and creating most of our attampts.

    “Too often last season Arsenal refused to take shots on goal at all – in this game there were plenty of attempts” we created more chances last season than we did in the Invicibles’ year. Only diff was we finshed them then.

  11. Absolutely SF. I think it may come off that I wasnt pleased with the performance. I was. After the 85th that is!! Honestly though.. Fulham really surprised me. I had them going down, but they looked like a top half team yesterday. Also, they didnt drop 11 men back when they went up 1-0. They kept a 4-4-2 shape nearly the whole game, and though they play ugly long-ball, they do it very well. Its always encouraging to see uf fight to the end; a re-occuring them lately. One which I REALLY like. But what i like more is being 3-0 up and not having to worry about lat minute winners – even though they make a good day GREAT!!

  12. as for the fantasy league.. its a lame excuse, but I am in about 10 diff leagues. dont think I can take any more. happy to make sarcastic remarks tho…

  13. “Also, they didnt drop 11 men back when they went up 1-0.”

    You know it’s ironic, if Fulham had done this they probably would’ve won. But because they went for the game it opened up the chances for us. It’s harsh on the little teams but Fulham probably lost because they tried to play football. Anyway, that’s it for tonight, I’m off to bed. Night, sam.

  14. After watching the game, i definitely felt that Eboue is a player who ‘can play’ on the wings. He didn’t do much there and for me its a worrying sign. If hleb is going to play in the center, we dont have a player who troubles the opposition defender on the right side. We need a winger..!

  15. I thought Eboue was OK. His first half was brighter than the second half and he linked up well with Sagna. If you take into account the fact that Sagna got forward quite well then I thought the boys on the right were effective. The decision to bring on Walcott was a good one though, it added some more spark in the second half. And yes, I agree that we still need another winger. After Petrov’s performance against West Ham I really wish we had him. But there you go…

  16. i watched both arsenal and man uniteds games….a win is a win and id take it so id be happy if i were arsenal fans…but i think they are a bit off the pace! united just seem to have a bit more about them….the loss of rooney is huge and the addition of tevez will be a interesting one…he will start midweek vs portsmouth and itll be interesting how he fits in to the side…

    on the arsenal game i believe they are in hectic need of a winger….i believe hleb and van p will be a danjerous combo through the middle….however i feel arsenal were lucky to win…

    liverpool scare me

  17. Fair call, I definitely agree with the need for a winger. But the loss of Rooney for you guys is absolutely massive – I don’t think even Tevez can make up for his loss. I think Tevez will slot in nicely for United but the first two months could be when you guys lose the title. Chelsea looked threatening against Birmingham and most Arsenal supporters will agree that if our side can get it right on a consistent basis then we are a big threat. As for lucky, I think Liverpool fall into that category after winning from a ludicrous dive from Gerrard. If he wasn’t English he would’ve been hammered for his gamesmanship.

  18. i think tevez is very similar to rooney…..both looks and ability lol

    its been said saha and soljear are back in training so they will need them back very quickly..everyone forgets how good saha is and how he dominated the first half of last season till his injuries….who have arsenal got next?

    sneijder got signed by madrid and there is rumors Gilberto Silva is leaving

  19. I think Arsenal should sign Morten Gamst-Pdersen, he is pacy, an excellent crosser and hits the target a lot aswell. Yoan Gouffran we should buy as well. I think we should buy 2 more players. Pedersen, Gouffran and Emre (newcastle). Also if Newcastle are willing, BUY MARTINS. Also send Song on loan.

  20. hey spanish and others…

    what teams do u believe will be effected by the african nations and by that i mean teams that will prob drop points

  21. Newcastle will not be selling Martins. As for the ACN enquiry, the teams that are hit pretty hard are Chelsea and Arsenal. Chelsea lose Drogba, Mikel, Essien and Kalou while Arsenal lose Toure, Adebayor and Eboue. I think Manchester United and Liverpool get it pretty sweet – can’t think of many that they will lose.

  22. could this cost these 2 teams the premiership?

    if eboue is lost and say u have a injury to hleb or theo then ur short in that department…..toure will be a massive loss he is a rock in that defence…

    as for chelsea the lose of drogba, mikel and essien will def cost them points i think

  23. Ronaldo7, u’re right ACN will affect us. Eboue will be gone, so we’ll have to play Hleb on right and he isnt much comfortable there. Or else it’ll be Walcott. But he isnt a finished material yet. That’s why almost every Arsenal fan has been yelling for a new winger.
    And SF, i agree that Eboue was ‘OK’. But he needs to perform much better in the coming games.
    And another factor which isnt helping us is the fact that we’re getting poor in counter-attacks. We’re getting slow in doing that.
    And ofcourse Set-pieces. When will we learn to use em properly…!

  24. NichtTheGooner makes an EXCELLENT point. We used to be lightning fast in the counter attack. 3 passes and BANG, we are in front of the oppositions goal for a tap-in. Now we take to long to hit back with the counter. We need to work on the speed of the transition.

  25. Ebuoe was ok but not upto his expectation and in fact walcott seemed to fit in to the game better..my conclusion so far about these two is that there are games that Ebuoe will be the best choice for and others which Walcott will fit like a missing puzzle.

    I totally agree that we need another signing but if possible i’d prefer a utility player who can play wide in the left as well as handle the central mid and the right wing moderately(am i creating a fantasy player?)..actually i got one in mind but he’s a kenyan and don’t stand a chance in hell of getting a work permit in england so hopefully wenger is hunting down the right person. CHEERS!

  26. couldn’t agree more – though wingers are in short supply see all the good targets are gone – and more worryingly we didn’t even try to get any of them.

    Drenthe – Madrid
    Bable – liverpool
    Malouda – Chavs
    Quresma – Chavs?

    We don’t actually have an out and out winger.

    That said, I think Bendtner will be the secret weapon this season… the lad is really effective at pretty much everything, he could be the key to bringing in Van Persie, Rosicky, Hleb and Walcott into games.. If Adebayor is injured this is the perfect time to test him out, and to be fair everytime we have used him he’s caused trouble. He should sort the big-head thing out though…

  27. u know watching florent malouda play, i just so angry that we did not even bother bidding for him.

    this guy would of made a big difference to our midfield he would score goals and create them too.

    its a pity we did not buy him, £13m is not bad comparing it to todays market for a class player.

  28. I felt Walcott was weak and innefective against Fulham. When he did get by Konchesky, his touch let him down. At the mo, his pace seems to be his only attribute. Love the kid and think he has HUGE potential, but he doesnt seem any better than when we signed him… a bit stronger, but still a bit of the “deer lost in the headlamps”.. still needs time. Bendtner however is ready to go. Like to see him start a game soon.

  29. sam nix – The thing about Walcott is, can we really expect him to do well at this age? Many people might say we can (and I know you’re not one of them), but I just don’t think it’s realistic yet. He needs much more time to mature. And I agree that Bendtner deserves some real opportunities – he has taken his chances with two hands and looks a brilliant prospect.

    gunnershabz – I hate to say I told you so but

  30. if arsenal are able to convert 75% of the chances they creat,then we all can sleep and know the premiership is ours.the fulham win was scary

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