Fulham have never won a game away at Arsenal but then Arsenal haven’t scored a goal at home since the 10th January.
Fulham were 8th in the table but they'd racked up five 0-0 draws away from home.
This game had 0-0 written all over it.
Fans got what they wanted before this game when it was announced that Vela would get his first Prem start on the eve of his 20th birthday.
We all wanted to see more him of so I was interested to see whether he could handle the Prem for a full 90.
Instead of replacing Eboue he replaced Bendtner who was dropped to the bench after another dip in confidence mid-week.
This was the slightly bizarre and unexpected line-up:
Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy
Arshavin Diaby Vela
This was a very attacking midfield that many GW members had posted as their fantasy line-up but it didn’t quite deliver on the night.
We've never seen Nasri used as an SS playing in the hole behind the striker and it's not often that you see RVP up front on his own.
Arshavin and Nasri had a free role and roamed all over the place.
Perhaps the boss is starting to realise that Nasri is 10 times better in the middle and will put anyone on the left wing just so that Nasri can play centrally?
AJ The Diver
The game started at a high tempo and led us to believe that there would finally be some goals in our lives as both teams created chances right from the off.
Johnson used his pace and made intelligent runs but couldn't finish.
Fulham beat the offside trap easily with Gallas & Clichy caught out but Davies muffed it up.
In the 8th minute Fulham came close after a long goal kick from Schwarzernegger was flicked on by Zamoron to Johnson who deftly touched the ball round Toure but dragged his shot wide.
That was a golden opportunity.
After the first quarter of an hour we were lucky not be a goal down.
Sagna then blocked a shot from Dempsey and Arsenal mounted a counter attack.
Arshavin hung a superb ball in the box like a grape for van Persie to pick at his leisure but RVP smashed his header straight at the ‘keeper. Good save though.
Another few chances came in quick succession, the first of which when RVP and Vela played a quick one-two on the edge of the box but the angle was too tight to score from.
Dempsey had another go but shot wide.
Another nice flowing move developed as RVP passed to Vela who squared a great ball across to Nasri who deflected the ball into the path of Arshavin but he skied it.
For the rest of the half Diaby drove the crowd crazy by following up every brilliant tackle with a terrible pass.
More poor crossing from Sagna was followed by a long spell of possession from Fulham as the crowd grew frustrated.
Their possession ended in a crap shot however.
Then came the moment that had the crowd yanking out their pubic hairs in frustration.
After another lame shot by Fulham, Nasri brought the ball out on a counter attack and found RVP who managed to find Vela in space despite having two Fulham defenders kicking the shit out of him at the time.
Vela charged towards goal but instead of shooting he crossed a low ball along the goal to Nasri.
Instead of shooting first time Nasri wrong-footed the defender so he could get more space. The defender bought the dummy but STILL Nasri wouldn’t shoot preferring to do a few more side steps just in case anyone from Strictly Come Dancing was watching.
Eventually after half an hour of his audition he was dispossessed and the crowd shouted every name under the sun at him.
In this game Nasri did a few convincing impressions of the frustrating Belarussian who he was bought to replace. Let’s hope he gives that up pronto.
Cue a bit more hoofball from Fulham which created another chance but Toure saved our arses.
Arshavin then gave us a glimpse of why Wenger broke the club’s transfer record to get him, by threading an inch-perfect ball past 4 Fulham players for RVP to run on to.
RVP whacked it with his chocolate leg but it was straight at Schwarzer. He tried to put the rebound in with his left but it was blocked.
I sometimes wish RVP would go for placement over power because his most powerful shots tend to go straight down the middle.
He needs to have a chat with Eduardo about goal-mouth composure.
Easily the most clear cut chance of the half.
The rest of the half consisted of feeble attempts on goal by Fulham followed by counter-attacking moves by Arsenal that ultimately broke down due to poor passing.
The last chance of the half fell to Vela as RVP ran into the left corner and crossed a low hopeful ball into the box.
He was fortunate to find Vela right in front of goal but Vela’s first touch was poor and he got the ball caught under his feet.
Another golden opportunity wasted.
We all thought Fulham would park the bus but to their credit they played a 4-4-2 and even tried to attack us at times.
We were actually lucky they didn't convert any of their chances.
Arsenal came straight out of the blocks with intent as Vela ran down the left and found RVP who could’ve squared to Diaby, Nasri or Vela (take your f***ing pick ) who were all rushing in on goal but instead he changed direction and generally pissed about a bit, eventually laying the ball off to Denilson who took a hard long distance shot which deflected out for a corner which we consequently wasted.
During this game I felt hopeful because as it went on we looked more and more like we were going to score. Not like the Sunderland game when it was obvious we'd never get round the bus.
Arshavin then created two more chances with cute through-balls but the resulting shots went wide.
RVP headed a corner over the bar as the crowd sung his name, trying to spur him on.
Some argy-bargy then kicked off near me in the lower tier as one fan didn’t like the guy behind him slagging off players. Hope he never stumbles across this forum!
Dunno what Arshavin's wife is moaning about?
He had no haircut at all he just looked like an outgrown buzz cut like a 10 year-old boy. How can it get any worse?
Sagna’s first decent cross of the game found RVP who headed the ball on to the outside of the far post.
That was VERY close. The twunt in front of me jumped and shouted YEAA- before sitting back down again meaning that I missed the header completely. I really hate that man.
In the 63rd minute Vela was taken off in exchange for Bendtner.
Overall Vela didn’t exactly pass this first test with flying colours.
He didn’t contribute that much to the game and still isn’t ready for a Prem start imo but then he wasn’t playing in his preferred position up front so you have to bear that in mind.
He wasn’t dreadful but he didn’t make enough of an impact for my liking.
We know Bendtner is most effective as an impact sub so maybe he could change things…..?
I thought Arshavin would be the one to go off as he looked tired and skied another chance.
Gallas who was having a great game, blocked another Johnson chance.
Bendtner then showed good alertness to pounce on a lazy back pass by Hughes. On this occasion no-one was rushing in on goal so he had to hang on to the ball for a while. In the end he crossed a perfect ball over to the far post for Arshavin who tried a very ambitious left-footed volley from a stupidly tight angle.
The man is clearly not short on confidence but the ball landed in Highbury Square.
In the 69th minute Sagna come off for Eboue. Not the most inspired sub but perhaps Sagna picked up a knock?
It could be that AW knows Eboue is a better crosser.
Couldn't be any worse could he?
Arsenal then teased us again by pretending they would score. (I haven’t been teased this much since Scottishlass sent me naked pictures of herself using a 10 year-old dial-up modem).
A long ball forward found RVP who flicked a perfect header to the feet of Bendtner who was on the edge of the box. He ran into the box and backheeled the ball to tee up RVP nicely but the Dutchman added to the growing collection of balls gathering in Highbury Square.
Eboue then won us a corner which RVP put on Diaby’s head. It was a great header but Schwarzer saved well from close range.
The crowd showed a lot of patience and continued to sing encouragement while down below Wenger was swearing his head off at the players.
4 minutes of extra time gave us all more false hope but Fulham wound up the crowd by passing the ball sideways to waste time.
They were embarrassingly successful at it.
The whistle blew to boos for the second Saturday in a row.
Fulham were too well organised and our finishing was poor yet again.
If the fans were wondering whether it was psychological and whether doubt had crept in this result only made that notion seem more likely.
Another clean sheet means more credit to our defending but more scrutiny for our attacking players.
Now would be a very good time for our injured players to return, particularly Eduardo.