Post Match View – Fulham F.C.

A picture is worth a thousand words.
Every picture tells a story.

The over-used cliches that fit the picture above would fall well short of doing justice to Vito Mannone’s performance against Fulham.

“I believe we will give him 10 out of 10 because everything he did was right…Until the next game he is No. 1. In this job you have to go from game to game.” AW

I won’t cheapen this post with a gratuitous attack on Manuel Almunia; however, it is clear that Wojciech and Vito are improving fast. Arsene has awakened this morning with a good headache – the kind that doesn’t hurt. The goalkeeping position has been a serious issue for me but there seems to be competition now. Hopefully, that will improve our chances of remaining competitve when it matters most.

Rookie keeper Vito Mannone played a game yesterday that my colleague has called “The best Arsenal goalkeeper performance he’s seen in years”. I agree. Vito was the undisputed Man of The Match.

The victory was well earned. Roy Hodgson and his Fulham side are no mugs. Let’s be clear, leaving Craven Cottage with three points was massive. Fulham were up for it. They fought hard and remained disciplined throughout. A lesser Arsenal side would have (and have left) disappointed.

The match was the first for The Little Magician after recovering from injury. He played a bit part however. He was either not up for it or still trying to find his rhythm. I hope that Andrey is not disinterested in playing against the less fashionable sides. We’ve seen big performances from him but there have been matches when he’s not got out of third gear. The chance he missed in the 22nd minute was well defended by a late tackle but we’ve come to expect him to finish from those positions.

The First Half featured a fine save by Vito from an Andy Johnson header on 15. When the rebound fell to Clint Dempsey, Mannone showed excellent reflexes to keep the score level by getting in front of the striker’s effort. A sign of things to come for the frustrated Cottagers. Cesc could have done better with his chance on 18. As mentioned earlier, Arshavin’s miss on 22 was notable. Vito did very well to stop Zoltan Gera’s effort on 36.

All in all it was a fairly even First Half with Fulham perhaps getting the nod on points if we’re speaking in boxing terms.

We had more of the same dogged, physical effort from Fulham in the Second Half. It started to look like the kind of game where we’d be OK settling for minimal damage and a draw. Credit to Fulham. They are a decent side.

And then, on 52, Song intercepts an errant pass just right of the center circle in Arsenal’s half , feeds Diaby who touches to Cesc. Our Captain lofts an inch perfect ball to Robin. His first touch is Robinesque. He finishes with his right foot, beating Schwarzer far post.

Fulham F.C. 0 Arsenal F.C. 1

The score would remain that way thanks to the heroic efforts of Vito Mannone. On 56, he denied Johnson’s fine header. Gallas was guilty of leaving Johnson too much space. Vito to the rescue.

On 67, Gallas helped out with a fine last ditch tackle to prevent Zamora from netting. On 77, Diaby lost possession in his own half, again, to allow Fulham another chance to test the rookie keeper. Mannone was up to the task as he dove well to keep Andy Johnson off the score sheet. Zamora was also denied later before Eboue and Bendtner missed chances to make the game 3 or even 4 nil. It would have been cruel but they really should have done better with their chances.

A good win. No doubt about it.

I just want to make a note in closing that Alex Song’s sweet footwork on 88 to keep possession should be recognized for the excellent piece of skill while under pressure that it was.


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