By 1970’s Gooner
You knew what you were going to get from Fulham when Chris Coleman was in charge. Attacking football home and away, having a go at you with the midfielders and full backs encouraged to go forward.
His philosophy was that if you put a lot of players behind the ball you will eventually succumb. Attack was the best form of defense.
This was the reason that Fulham surprised a few teams but it was also the reason why they ended up letting in fours and fives, as in their opening game of last season against Manchester United.
They did in fact concede 60 league goals last season. As compared to Watford’s 59 and Sheffield United’s 55. Both went down.
Judging by Northern Ireland’s excellent performances on the international scene, Lawrie Sanchez appears to be of the other persuasion.
Stick men behind the ball and pack the midfield whose first priority will be to adopt a more conservative approach.
And become more adventurous through quick counter attacks when the opportunity arises.
Sanchez’s recruitment strategy has reflected this mentality.
The players brought in are not necessarily top quality but they are well equipped for tough battles out there on the football field.
Also in Kamara and Buazza they have two very pacy players who can hit you on the counter attack.
The problem however will be to assimilate all these new players in the squad and also keep them happy. Not an easy task.
So it will appear that Arsenal will return back to familiar ground.
No I don’t mean that they are by now used to the Emirates; it was to me a very feeble excuse anyway, invented by Wenger, in desperation, to keep the players’ morale up when points were being dropped at home left right and centre.
What I mean is that Arsenal are likely to face a packed defence. And we all know that breaking up packed defenses is hard to do!
This is what Arsenal failed to find answers to last season. And if they haven’t learned their lesson then this game could turn out another first home fixture where points are dropped; again.
Remember Aston Villa last season?
It is this background that Wenger’s team selection will have to take into account for the two positions that are really still open.
These are deciding on who to partner Robin Van Persie in the forward areas of the pitch and who to trust for the wide left slot.
I say this because the occupants for the rest of the positions are either well known or have passed their trial during the “perfect pre-season”.
The right midfield position has to my mind been successfully claimed by the excellent Eboue and the right back slot by the new recruit Bakary Sagna.
These two have gelled together very quickly and they compliment each other very well.
Now who will partner RVP up front is not as straight forward.
I have advocated for Bendtner’s inclusion before for the fact that he compliments RVP very well who himself is better deployed not as a front man but playing off the centre forward.
But obviously Wenger thinks otherwise so who am I disagree!
I believe therefore that Hleb should get the nod before Eduardo as he has played very well in that position during pre-season.
He showed that his skills in close ball control and dribbling can be very effective when playing off a front man.
More importantly however these are the skills that will come in very useful when trying to unlock defenses, as I suspect Arsenal will be trying to do on Sunday.
There is no obvious candidate for the wide left midfield spot simply because no one from the usual suspects impressed there during pre season.
Rosicky who may get the nod was not up to his usual standard. Clichy did impress but he will be trusted with the left back spot.
Wenger may make therefore the pragmatic decision and play Hleb on the left and partner Eduardo with RVP instead.
I personally would keep Eduardo on the bench and introduce him to Premiership football in a more gradual manner rather than throwing him in at the deep end.
My starting eleven would therefore be:
Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy
Eboue Fabregas Diaby Rosicky
Prediction: Arsenal carry their pre-season form into the League and hit the ground running. 2 - 0
Arsenal look ready to hit the ground running, more so than the others
What does Arsenal need to do to challenge for next season?
Bendtner makes a case for starting against Fulham