Gillespie Guest Post: The Fulham PerspectivePosted: November 8, 2012
Memories of standing at Craven Cottage in the freezing cold back in January, only with the delicious hot dogs for comfort, still haunt me. To jolt your memories Zamora scored a last minute winner whilst the home game in November 2011 saw Vermaelen snatching a point in the 83rd. This week’s Gillespie Guest Post comes from Fulham fan Hamish who paints a terrifying picture of some confident Cottagers.
Away matches are not something that Fulham fans are used to getting excited about. Our lousy form on the road makes for a dead cert on most people’s weekend accumulators, ever since we joined the League in 2001. But something is happening at the cottage this season, which beggars a touch of optimism.
Despite the recent loses of Dempsey and Dembele, Fulham have had a surprisingly good start to the season, and sit equal on points with Arsenal ahead of Saturday’s tie. Our first away match without the dynamic duo had alarm bells ringing, as West Ham completely outstripped us in the midfield, and we were undone by the vision (yes, vision) of Andy Carroll.
But fortunately, things seem to have moved on. Rather than spending big, Fulham have seen their less noticed squad players step up to the plate. Former Gooner Steve Sidwell has been solid: 3 goals, including the one that clinched a lucky draw with Everton last weekend. Chris “Baird-inho” has also had the fans singing, since his last minute winner against Villa. But Martin Jol remains realistic about where our threat as a team lies in pointing out:
“We need to get the ball to our better players up front”
Blunt, as ever, but very true. Jol has worked some transfer magic in acquiring Rodellaga on a free, and the formidable Dimitar Berbatov for a fee of £4 million. Combined with the talent of Ruiz, Petric and Kacaniklic – This can make for a potent attacking force.
5 points from our last three away games could easily have been 9, were it not for last minute goals against Reading and Southampton. That shakiness away from home seems to have (dare I say it) temporarily disappeared. Nonetheless Arsenal are going to be much tougher opponents. The goals may be coming for Fulham, but it feels like the Gunner’s recent drought is also wearing off. This is a concern since our defence has been worryingly accident-prone of late. The Hangeland-Hughes combination, a hallmark of solidarity in seasons gone by, has been exposed too often. If Theo Walcott starts, and has one of those days when he bothers to be world class, he will no doubt get the better of John Arne. However, defence seems to be a problem that is generic to almost every side in the premiership at the moment. The top three are no exception, and neither are Arsenal. Koscielney’s errors were laughable against Reading, and perhaps their woes were adequately summed up by Santos offering to swap his shirt in the tunnel during half time at Old Trafford.
Fulham will surely be confident based on their last visit to the Emirates, and good recent form, whilst Arsenal should fancy their chances with a (potentially?) reinvigorated frontline, and a leaky Fulham defence. The Emirates is a hard place to travel to, and may be one step too far for Fulham’s away run. Nevertheless, I remain confident that we can poach a couple of goals, and hopefully tighten things up at the other end. Prediction 2-2.