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By Bulldog Drummond
The big news from the media is that Gabriel Jesus trained on Thursday, which suggests that by Saturday 3pm he could be ready to sit on the bench and be up for a stroll on the pitch later in the game. Meanwhile, the league position of the two teams reflects more or less where we might have expected them to be.
If we break down the clubs by their last six games, looking at Arsenal at home and Fulham away we find the difference has narrowed a little, but Arsenal are still ahead. These games are of course spread over the end of last season and start of this campaign.
But even though it involves looking back into the depths of last season courtesy of the Fishy to a time when according to all the media Arsenal completely fell apart and revealed their true frailties we find that things were perhaps not as bad as the media like to pain them.
Over the last eight games of last season and first two of this Arsenal have performed as the ninth best club which is not what we would have liked. But consider two other London teams, much hyped for the future… And as we glance at these four lines we might recall that for most of the games counted Tottenham had a certain centre forward playing for them, but he is now long gone.
As for the summer dealings, we know all about Arsenal. Declan Rice from West Ham for £105m, Kai Havertz from Chelsea for £60m plus add ons, Jurriën Timber for £38.5m from Ajax, and David Raya on loan from Brentford.
Fulham, who are very busy paying for their new stand have Calvin Bassey, a defender from Ajax who cost £19.3, Raúl Jiménez from Wolverhampton Wanderers for £5m and Adama Traoré also from Wolverhampton on a free.
An understanding of Fulham’s financial position comes from the fact that in March 2022 Fulham were given around a quarter of a billion pounds (yes really) by their owner, (achieved in part by converting loans into shares). That came after making almos a £100m loss in the 2020/21 season.
Overall it looks as if Shahid Khan has put more than half a billion pounds into the club, and of course one of the benefits is the new Riverside Stand – which has of course been much more expensive than many new stands because of its position backing onto the Thames. Hence its name, and their more modest spending on players.
All of which explains the lack of transfer activity for the club.
But we should remember that last season, the end of the campaign saw a right old shuffle around of clubs in the league table. On 1 March after 25 games Fulham would have been very happy in 7th place, I imagine, with the prospect of getting that Conference League position in Europe that has so excited West Ham. Indeed Fulham were on the same number of points as Liverpool, and had scored only four goals fewer than the “mighty reds” as the media perceive them. But what happened for Fulham was not a push to keep a European spot but instead a rather dramatic slump.
Five consecutive games were lost – and that run continued so that eight out ten games from 1 March onwards were defeats. They did recover with a win, two defeats and a draw in the last five, but the damage was done and Europe was lost.
So we now look to see what Fulham have emerged. So far the impressions are not that… err.. impressive. A 0-1 away win at Everton is the least anyone should aim for against a club whose very existence seems to be teetering on the brink of that appallingly muddy river, followed by a 3-0 home thrashing by Brentford.
In the words of the Warren Zevon song “Send lawyers guns and money” although in reality they can probably dispense with the firearms. (Actually, I don’t think we’ve ever put music on this blog before, but Tony of course does it all the time on his Bob Dylan site, and I found this one on there, and thought why not. It is probably what half the club owners in the Premier League and Championship are thinking most of the time. Hope you like it – Tony rates it as one of his absolute favourite tracks of all time. Besides the way things are going in football, this could be where we are heading).
- Arsenal continue to make more progress than the rest of the big seven
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- We are running out of referees, and the reason is the PGMO.
- Arsenal v Tottenham: the key fact the media won’t to tell you – and why they won’t
- Arsenal v Tottenham: different clubs, different managers, different successes