And so it is Fulham who come under the spotlight of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” – the historic (not to say hysterical) analysis of future events named after a Velvet Underground hit. (Exciting isn’t it?)
Fulham: who last season caused all the posts of, “This is exactly what I feared would happen” from the people who only see one game at a time, and never look to the future.
Or so I argued at this moment one year ago just before we played Hull Spitty (or Hull City as they were known in those days) on 27 September 2008…
A victory would have taken us top of the league. And we lost 1-2.
I was at a school re-union in Poole in Dorset, and so watched it on TV in the local pub, and couldn’t quite believe it. (Actually I couldn’t quite believe how old all the other guys who I had been at school with, now look – a bit like a team of Tiny Totts.).
Our team against the Spit one year ago was
- Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy
- Walcott, Fabregas, Denilson, Eboue (Bendtner)
- Van Persie, Big bloke who meandered around a bit.
Average age 24 years 3 months, as opposed to the old timers we faced who were averaging 28. On shots we won 17 to 8, which showed how we dominated. Hull had two shots on target – obviously both went in. The Guardian said, “Corners are to Arsenal what kryptonite is to Superman” which actually I thought was rather clever, although I didn’t admit it at the time.
So where are we now, one year on, as we prepare to visit Fulham…
Arshavin is back, Theo is on his way back and could be on the bench now or on Tuesday, Almunia is another week away, and Denilson and Nasri are making slow recoveries. Djourou is out of contention until the Sun does a report in five months calling him “The forgotten man of Arsenal”
Who have I missed? There must be more injuries. There are always more injuries. Must be because we haven’t had any internationals this week.
Anyway, the back line compared with last year is plus one or even plus two in terms of quality ratings – we have Vermaelen, and that seems to be liberating Gallas. Plus three maybe compared with a year ago.
Middle three are also of a higher calibre than the middle four of a year ago – Song (who was benched a year ago) is the obvious additional benefit. We’ll have Song, Fabregas, Eboue or maybe Rosicky (although perhaps he’ll be the sub).
Front three will be plus one or two as compared with a year ago: Van Persie or Bendtner, Eduardo, Arshavin.
The bench looks good too – last year we had Song, Ramsey, Bendtner, Djourou, Silvestre. This year Ramsey is there, looking very promising, Wilshere looking very Wilshere, maybe Theo looking quite like an English F1 driver, maybe Rosicky Mozart if he doesn’t start. Maybe Vela wearing his Mexican Hat ready for another little cameo. Presumably the centre halfs, plus Gibbsy-wibbsy (sorry this is getting a bit childish).
So, one year ago we lost two one, this year we are at least four players better… perm any from this group, and allow for the fact that Denilson and Theo are not there but then counter that with the fact that Vermaelen is worth seven of any other player. Our ups are…
- Vermaelen Vermaelen Vermaelen
So on that basis I would say, we lost 2-1, but here we get another four, so its another 5-2 from me. Four from Vermaelen, and the fifth an own goal from the ref who was still trotting back to the half way line after the fourth. Hits him on the knee, bounces onto Gallas’ bum, back onto the ref’s head, and into the net. 5-1 with 17 minutes of injury time left.
27,874 Arsenal supporters are fished out of the Thames half an hour before kick off and spend the whole match singing “Number one is Perry Groves, number two is Perry Groves” etc, (an entertaining ditty which the Beatles nicked and turned into Yellow Aircraft Carrier – a number one hit in Argentina in 1934.) (Sorry there might be an error there).
Mr Al Fayhed springs a surprise in the second half by leaping down from his box, running to the bench, taking off his goalkeeper, and bringing on a Prince Phillip lookalike, while inviting Arshavin to “do a KGB on the bastard”. An interesting event totally missed by the Radio 5 commentators, who continue to stress that “Fulham look strong” even at 5-1 down,
The Hull Spitty manager also makes a surprise appearance on the pitch, celebrating the anniversary of the last time his team won a match. He (the Hull manager, not Mr Al Fayhed who is an awfully nice gent and has very sound views on the royal family) is arrested for being a prat.
Three water rats are later found on the pitch, and are returned to their spiritual home down the Lane. Quite a jolly day all round.
“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” – William Blake
(c) Tony Attwood 2009