Arshavin, Walcott back for Arsenal but will it be Szczesny or Mannone against Fulham? + Wenger’s childhood pub antics

It’s Friday afternoon and that means a couple of cheeky beers and a very enthusiastic Arsenal match preview from yours truly.

After a fairly nothing week – although Mikael Silvestre and his band of nephews might have something to say about that – the real football is back and it comes in the shape of a potentially tricky game away to Fulham. The Cottagers may have won just two of their first five games and scored a meagre four goals compared to our 17 so far, but recent history suggests they will provide reasonably stern opposition for the Arsenal boys. Indeed, we failed to score or beat them at all last season and even suffered a 1-0 reverse in the corresponding fixture at Fulham in a performance that induced strong criticism from a lot of supporters.

Personally I don’t feel we will have such problems tomorrow. The manager has confirmed that both Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott will be available for the game and although it seems the Englishman is still a little unlikely to feature, the return of the Russian is brilliant news. If Arshavin is fully fit then I expect him to start alongside Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner in a superbly-balanced front three. If not then Eduardo should play on the left with the Russian be utilised later in the game as an impact substitute.

In midfield the continued absence of Denilson means it should be a middle trio of Alex Song, Abou Diaby and Cesc Fabregas, although I wouldn’t be against the idea of our captain being given a bit of a rest and being replaced by Tomas Rosicky. The back four should be the usual suspects while the manager has a big decision to make in goals regarding whether to stick with Wojciech Szczezny – who impressed in Carling Cup midweek – or restore Vito Mannone. Personally I feel that Mannone deserves another chance to play after his clean sheet against Wigan however these comments from Wenger suggest he still has a decision to make.

Despite last year’s debacle at Craven Cottage I fully expect us to win tomorrow. After two unlucky losses in Manchester we’ve responded well and aside from the continued absence of Manuel Almunia we look strong all over the park. Arshavin’s return will be a big boost and his creativity could be the x-factor in a game that may well turn out to be tight, while in van Persie, Bendtner, Fabregas and Diaby we have a host of players who all know how to score and will be pushing forward as often as possible. Personally I think we will win handsomely I could think of worse things to do than follow Goonerholic’s suggestion and put a couple of pounds/dollars/euros/ringgits on a 3-0 win.

Moving away from the Fulham game now and onto a couple of other (relatively) important matters. 

Firstly, our manager. He’s been talking about his childhood and how he felt that growing up around his parents pub was a huge benefit to his skills as a football manager. No, seriously. Read it here. To quickly summarise he says that learning from grown–ups about football and various other grown-up things helped him understand the psychology behind what motivates people and why they do the things they do. Fair enough, I’m sure, but why do I get a creepy image of Wenger as a 5-year-old manipulating drunk old into fighting each other in bars and encouraging them to cheat on their wives? Ugh.

Secondly (and finally), the AFL Grand Final is on tomorrow. Although I am a Brisbane boy and now follow the Lions after years of supporting them live, the fact that I grew up a childhood Geelong supporter means I will be madly barracking for them to beat St Kilda tomorrow. It should be an absolutely cracking game between the two best Australian Rules Football teams in the country and if there are any Aussie Gooners out there watching it, be sure to enjoy yourselves.

Anyway that’s it. Here’s to a Geelong win tomorrow and three points against Fulham.

Have your say on all things Arsenal by leaving a comment.



  1. no problem for Arsenal to beat Fulham handsomely I think…I personally love the potential starting 11 except for Diaby, I’m not sure wether his presence will benefits the team or not. I prefer the midfield trio of rosicky-song-fabregas, apart from that all looks okay to me..

  2. The side will be balanced with Andre and Thomas back. Very excited to see those to play together. The continued absence of Almunia can only be a good thing

  3. Hmm. Beware the “easy” win. On paper we should win, on the field, hopefully. Good to see other keepers geting some important time between the sticks.

  4. I dont agree with you AW when you say the week was full of nothing. Beating westbromwich by the little kids isnt nothing, however obvious it seemed. Iam glad Asharvin will be featured against Fulham. And by the way,why do ManU fans log on this blog just to piss up Arsenal fans? Please guys,if you have nothing to write on this blog then look for your own what with late wins with the help of referees!!!! Good luck Gunners!!!!!!!

  5. I think we will beat Fulham comfortably.return of andrei and walcott is a big boost for us.

  6. In wenger i trust. I strongly believe we will be smiling tomorrow after the match but fulham will put up their best. The squad is okay just that diaby

  7. wenger i trust. I strongly believe we will be smiling tomorrow after the match but fulham will put up their best. The squad is okay just that diaby

  8. Yes! It’s payback time. Not 4getin what they did to us last season, i think the return of ars’vin and theo will give us a big chance of winning comfortably…up gunners

  9. from nigeria the gunners over here support the gunners to beat fulham comfortably tomorrow at least 3-0 up gunners and gunners for life

  10. I think so too, but nothing should be taken for granted. The problem so far has been that the back four are too attacking conscious(7 goals So far btw Galas & Verm). Lets not concede early goal(S) and victory is ours.

  11. at last i will have to agree with you especially on the come back of arshavin ,most likely to create aking size impact upfront patterning with either bendtner and van persie/eduardo.
    still the goal keeping abilities of the two boys has got the right time to impress.
    love ya all gooners

  12. I really think we’ll do extremely well with Arshvin and Walcot coming in the first 11. I really don’t have sufficient trust on Diaby. He’s too causual for first team performance but apart from that I’d like to see Mannone deputising to Manuel. It’s a must win for us. I absolutely agree with Theo that we’ve been patient enough we’re hungry for trophies guys so go for every game now. We deserve one or two this season.

  13. I expect nothing less than a comprehensive victory for the GUNNERS but we should also be weary of these spoil spots who have nothing to offer but derail the Machine…. With Arsha…coming back & having the luxury of Rosicks & Theo….then…

  14. Also, the Boys2men’s achievement in the week amounts to somethin pls. lets encourage them to go all the way. All the Gunners’ fans here in Abuja, Nigeria say bigup boys!!

  15. About the mancs checkin into our blogs,they just can’t help it.Up here they do watch more Arsenal matches than they do theirs.i guess they are living in denial and really love our style.

  16. i dnt care who plays or not.all am after is 3pts.but my prefer midfield will be rosicky,fab and song. Wenger is the best believed it or not because what he does, no manager can do it. there is not better place to get free flowin football than arsenal.i will never depart from arsenal it is where i belong. am home

  17. What is the AFL? Aussie Football for Ladies? Wasn’t Yvonne Geelong an Aussie tennis player?

    Don’t know what you get up to in the Antipodes, maybe you’ve lost your way in the sand storm.

    As to the match tomorrow, it will be interesting to compare two centre-backs, one Hangeland, who a lot of fans thought we should buy, and two Vermaelen, who looks like the natural successor to Arsenal legend Tony Adams.

    I’m going for a 2-0 win for the gunners but it wont be any walk over.

  18. yeah, I’m surprised that that idea with Ro-sicky to give Cesc a rest rises for me the first time, he knows the playmaker role back to front, it suggests itself, I wonder why Wenger hasn’t used this option yet, despite a pre-season game I guess, yes, agree with this idea totally

  19. wish the best to gunners. a wish can come true. let us have faith and keep on mounting pressure on the log leaders.

  20. Eboue is one of my favrite player at @ Arsenal but here are two things with-which i really hate on him: Diving for nothing after a good & formidable run or dribble and never score even him and a ghost i front of the goal.I wont count on Eboue to score but i will defntly count on him for creating the goal from the wings.
    As for tomorrow, Id really want to see Theo to play, i dont know how much do i really wanna see him play with Arshavin.Like the rest of the guys i dont really want to see Diaby tomorw, but he had a very good run with strength last tuesday thou!!but i still prefer to see Rosicky. or Eboue by playing 4-4-2; like this:


    Why cant AW try this??? i really do trust The LONELY Song assisted with Fab in the central midfield, dunno abt u guys? but i really do.
    Finally, for Fab to rest a bit and switched by Rosicky, i wont agree with that SF, why? I beleive that Cesc needs some more games to regain his confidence back, i saw him a bit frustrated agst Wigan, just bcos he cant get control of the game, first as a skipper and second as a good passer.I see Fab really hungry of prooving somethin on the pitch but he cant just apply his good passing tactics and style with the players ard him 9 including bendtner,Diaby who just dont see anybody next to them when they got the ball, they just wanna go and dribble when they have the ball), Arshavin,Rosicky,Walcott,Eboue, Lil jack,Nasri,Song,Eduardo all know how to play with him, Fab cant play with diaby and Bendy which really turn our game style very uggly when we got those two guys on the pitch.We ll meet tomrw, and Go on gunners.

  21. By the way , i ve always liked italian Goal keepers, id like to see Manonne to be given more timing game.

  22. Come on you Arsenal! Getting excited about this one (as usual) however anyone who thinks this game’s a foregone conclusion is being enthusiastic but unrealistic. Fulham beat us last year, 1-0, a scrappy knock in by Hangelaand off a corner – not a header either. We had a decent team out including Walcott, Nasri, Van P and Adebeyor. Kolo and Gallas in defence. I think it may have been our first loss of last season. AW said after the match – “We were not sharp enough in the first half, and our passing was certainly not as good as we expect it to be. I don’t know why,’
    Let’s hope the boys have got their ‘game faces’ on this time. Really looking forward to seeing the little Russian again – and Rosicky.

  23. Thanks AW. Hope we correct the unfortunate loss at Craven Cottage last year. Looks like we can beat them though as they are struggling. I’m hoping for another clean sheet today.

  24. Hey Gooners, now we know why Arsenal didn’t buy any more players after selling Toure and Adebayor. Asked about the transfer money Arsene Wenger said “That money is for me. I know how much I have and I am happy with it.” How’s that for honesty!

    PS – you know I’m kidding, right?

  25. Hey Gunners , arsenal winning dis match is a certainty, it a great boost 2 d club with d return of arshavin and theo .greetings 2 all arshavin fan on facebook.

  26. I don’t agree with guys who sticking with Nicklas. he can only be good when he is introduced as a substitute. I would stick with Eddie and not #52.
    Thanx have fun in the game.

  27. difficult difficult until now, fulham had the better chances in my opinion, Arsenal are doing difficult with themselves, no good chances for Arsenal so far, and I haven’t seen one successful counter attack though there were opportunities to, Mannone the only one to have marked himself, they are trying hard

  28. o.k. second half better, despite Mannone quite vice versa, after that one successful counter attack and goal from van Persie things went better, Eboue is not a finisher, I have seen it today’s night too, even Fabregas looked much better after his successful assist for van Persie, Eboue should have killed the game in stoppage time, I missed the last whistle, I hope it stayed 0:1 Arsenal, I must say Fulham deserved a draw at least, but of course, who cares, nevertheless a bit lucky the victory, a little bit

  29. Very tight game. Mannone came through big time. But I was happy to see RVP finish. Beauty of a pass, wonderful touch and a solid finish. I’ll take it. Three points is three points.

  30. This is what i want to see,grinding out a 1-0 win,shows real grit and determination,manone was man of the match for me,song also had a good game,nice goal from RVP,but my talking point is,this kid manone, continues to impress me,if almunia had been there,i doubt,we would have gotten all 3 points,,IMO,thats our real number1,if AW wasn´t impressed,i don´t know what else will impress him,and thanks for changing that yellow keepers vest,like this one better.

  31. Agree, agree and agree again, Gunna Shah. These are the win ugly results we’ve been missing. The ‘One nil to the Ar-senal’ s. We need results like this through the season as well as the better stuff. Fulham worked like bastards and ‘deserved’ something but as we as Gunners fans know you don’t always get what you deserve. Besides Manone was deserving of a 0 in goals against. Well done that man. Brilliant. I’m vedry happy with this result – My one gripe – Diaby -again. Worse than useless – actually a hindrance to our performance.

  32. I just want to add, the best comment from the reporter of my channel has been: <> (nearly in this way)

  33. oh, I set some marks which deleted the comment (once more): ” You should have seen Arsène Wengers face, when they raised the 5 minutes stoppage time board!”

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