Terry Venables, former manager of the England national team once said
❝ Penalties put too much strain on one player. It could ruin his career if he’s not a strong character. ❞ – Terry Venables
I’m sure Arteta could handle it, he’s a strong professional but missing a last-minute penalty must have been tough for him and the team. This is what I call anti-climax. Having performed so steadily and efficace since the beginning of the season, Arteta failed to produce the same level of performance against Fulham. Okay he made a good assist for Podolski who scored Arsenal’s second goal but he also gave away a cheap penalty at the other end which Mannone was dully fooled by Berbatov.
Let’s get back to the game, Arsenal started brightly with Giroud scoring his fifth goal of the season from a Walcott’s corner after 11 minutes of play. It didn’t take too long to see the second goal, twelve minuter after the first goal, Podolski poached an easy low cross delivered by Arteta on the edge of the six-yard box to make the game looks done and dusted. But Fulham came back strongly, they constantly moved the ball around and pressing the Arsenal midfielders, notably Arteta. He was so heavily contained after the first goal that the Arsenal back-four had to play some wasteful long balls towards Giroud who was very effective but still lost some aerial duels against Hangeland (keep in mind that the Norwegian centre half is almost 2 meters). Their determination was rewarded, Berbatov headed home to cut the deficit from Ruiz’s beautifully swung corner. Five minutes before the break, a simple vertical run by Berbatov on the left-side of Arsenal’s defence was spotted Riether who released the ball to Berbatov before he crossed it to Kacaniklic who headed the ball home to bring Fulham right back into the game. A cheeky goal to concede by Arsenal. There was an argument that Mannone’s view was blocked by Ruiz’s presence in front of him. But that’s it for the first half, four shots on target turned into four goals.
The second half Fulham started slowly, they were almost caught napping when a Walcott’s cross almost found Giroud whose jump was not high enough to meet the ball, good cross tho by Walcott ! With Arteta being marked so heavily by both Sidwell and Ruiz, Wenger decided to bring Ramsey who just got back from an injury suffered last weekend at Old Trafford to replace Coquelin who had a quiet game. Arsenal were caught napping at the back a few minutes after, Ruiz got into the box so effortlessly and got pulled back by Arteta to win a penalty. Berbatov cooly scored from the spot to turn the match around. Arsenal quickly leveled when Giroud found some space behind the Fulham’s defence but his left-footed shot hit the post and Walcott sent the rebound into the box for the former Montpellier man guided a cushioned header into the net. 3-3 and still counting. Sadly for Arsenal, Walcott suffered an injury and is now a doubt for the England match, he had to be replaced by Arshavin who won a penalty in the fourth minute of the injury time. Soft penalty considering it was not a deliberate handball by Riether, but same thing happened last week. Justice was done moments afterwards when Arteta nervously placed the ball and his low shot to the right was well saved by Schwarzer who turned out to be the hero for his team. Full time, that was the last kick of the game. Twitter almost exploded that moment the fans were asking why not Giroud who took the penalty or Cazorla ? Wenger insisted after the game that Arteta was his first choice and he wanted to take the responsibility and maybe a little bit of pay-back considering it was him who fouled Ruiz in his own penalty box. But apart from that Arteta had good numbers in the game completed 94% of his 80+ passes, made one assist, created 3 goal-scoring chances, but he also conceded a penalty and missed a last-minute spot kick.
Well now other teams are quick to realise that they need to stop Arteta and Cazorla to make Arsenal clueless. Arsenal keep changing the squad each season but the problem stays, they’re so vulnerable at the back. The promotion of Steve Bould seems nothing right now. Is there something wrong with the tactics, self-motivational problem, luck, leadership, or something else ?
Anyway I’m done for today have a good evening folks !