Fulham Preview: Can Arteta solve for a deep-block?

by .

Well, here we are, the first game of the season. It’s pounced on us. I’ve barely had the time to miss football, yet here she is, back with a 3 game a week schedule for the next 3 months. I am VERY excited.

Fulham is a tricky game simply because we’re not really sure who is going to show up. Both teams could spring a surprise. Arsenal could turn up like they did against Villa. Fulham could roll over like they did that time we thought we had our Arsenal back.

We need a win. There’s no glory in a draw. Arsenal needs to start the season the same way they played the FA Cup final. Everyone needs to show up focused. This season we’re gunning for top 4. Arsenal can’t have another transition year. We have the talent to do it. Arteta picked up a bag of shite in December, he took us from 8th to 8th, but the half-season table showed that we finished 4 points off 3rd (in 5th). If we’re that close to 3rd in March, we have every chance of taking a Champions League spot.

There are 4 very important games coming up before the international break. Anything above 9 points will be classified as very good. Most would say the big game is the Liverpool one, but for me, it’s actually the Fulham, West Ham, and Sheff U games that pose the threat.

Arsenal’s challenge this season will be dealing with deep blocks. We lack creativity through the middle and we haven’t really addressed that this summer so far. There has to be a solution. Arteta needs to evolve how we play this season. It’s no good becoming the London version of Wolves. We need to rack up points against the little teams this season.

There are some potential solutions. The biggest bet we’ve made is that Willian will carry over his elite form from last season. He had a great record for balls into the box last season. We’ll need some of that trickery tomorrow. The big question is whether Arteta opts to play him out on the left, or whether he moves him into a modern #10 role.

We could also see Mesut Ozil back in contention. The German international is out of the cold and he’s making a fuss online that he wants to play. Say what you like about him, he’s a deep-block specialist and if willing, he’s more than capable of being a solve for us there. Question, as always, is how much does he care?

There are also some other potential solves that are little more far fetched. Saka ‘might’ get a shout as a #10 at some point this season. Could be a little early for that. Especially as he’s been so good from wide positions. We also have ESR who can play in those pockets. He had a great time at Huddersfield. Would Arteta take the chance? I’m not sure (not tomorrow as he’s injured). Especially not for the first game.

What we do know is this: Fulham under Scotty Parker are pragmatists.

They will set up with a sturdy team tomorrow and they’ll look to nick a goal on the counter. They clearly aren’t elite pragmatists (they finished 4th in the Championship and there’s been a serious debate about #ParkerOut among entertainment starved fans), but they’ll be an early test for us. They have some decent ball-playing defenders and they have a bully of a target man in Mitrovic. Those two factors combining have been the death of us over the years. Hopefully, there’s a strategy tomorrow to work around the obvious plan that’ll be rolled out.

So here we are, heading into our 13th year together (feeling so emosh). This should be fun. We have a solid setup. We have a brilliant young manager. We have a vibrant squad of young players eager to make it happen. We have a chance to make the top 4 if things fall for us. Let’s enjoy it, it’ll be a fun ride. Lots of ups and downs. But we’re heading in the right direction regardless. I’ve not been able to honestly say that in a very long time.

Enjoy the game and listen to the podcast. Whoever gave me a 1* review, I hope you have some mild internet disruption today. Yeah, I’m that serious about the slander.

Also, I fixed the link issue on the newsletter. It should not be working perfectly!


Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts

1,072 Responses to “Fulham Preview: Can Arteta solve for a deep-block?”

Jump to comment form ↓

  1. DivineSherlock

    I dont think they have a midfield or fullbacks capable enough. Should be an easy game for Xhaka and Ceballos . I would start Nketiah though , Laca on the bench . Pepe on the right and Willian as CAM , Auba left . 4-3-3 . Arteta would obviously go for 3-4-3 so I dont know who starts.

  2. Pierre

    7 players out injured ..

    Smith Rowe..training .

    Is it a possibility that Arteta’s policy of selecting the starting 11 based on the effort they put in during training is part of the cause to the injury situation .

    The players know they will not be selected unless they give it all in training.
    Maybe the desire to impress the manager is pushing their body to the limit.
    This will also make them more vulnerable to many types of injuries during the 90 minutes on the pitch…

    Today should be fine, Fulham are average at best and with no home support will give us an advantage..

  3. þorkell einarsson

    I hope we score 3 today, with Auba hitting 2 and send a statement of intent for the club this
    season !! Also cant wait to see ESR and Martinelli in the same team .. when recovered ..

  4. Pierre

    “Leno is absolutely world class. ”

    That being so, would it not be feasible to think that a world class keeper would fetch 40/50 million and would be in demand if we put him up for sale.

    Martinez is obviously good enough, so why not sell our “world class ” keeper(Leno) and use the money to buy the midfield player that we are so desperate for.

  5. shad

    I’d take the 3 points today anyhow they come, preferably with an Auba hattrick.

    And as he takes the matchball, he is met in the dresser by Aouar.*wakes up from wet dream..*

  6. Trap

    Sell your world class goalie ?
    Like saying Barca should sell ter stegen to fund transfers just for the large fee he can generate
    Leno is no ter stegen but he is a German international, who has played at the top level of European football for the better part of his career ,he’s not angliy for a love is he ? He’s not forcing the managers hand and like Mikel said if the second string goalie cannot support the first choice he doesn’t deserve to play.

  7. Fredo

    Come on Arsenal!!!!!!
    Can’t wait for kickoff. A bit sad to hear Martinez may be off. I hope we are keeping the right keeper

  8. Tee

    “In December 2018, Leno cost us at Southampton. An absolute clanger at the end when Charlie Austin scored, in a 3-2 defeat. I was there.Missed out on CL that season”

    Oh! We missed CL that season due to Leno’s clanger. You should also be sincere enough to mention the number of times he saved our asses from embarrassment.

    Was Aubameyang, our talisman not guilty too?

  9. Tee

    “The players know they will not be selected unless they give it all in training.
    Maybe the desire to impress the manager is pushing their body to the limit.
    This will also make them more vulnerable to many types of injuries during the 90 minutes on the pitch…”

    This is the right answer to the puzzle – Pierre and Ozil

  10. Emiratesstroller


    Willian used to play AMF for Brazil so that is a central midfield option until and unless we buy
    a specialist.

    Arsenal need to win the first two matches of season and get off on right foot.

  11. Arson Wengerer

    If Martinez intends to force his way then he is the right choice to go. No-one is larger than the club. You don’t get to try and bully the club. By all means, let thrm know you want to play. As soon as he gave the club an ultimatum he sealed his own fate.

  12. CG


    “”””27 – nil to Arsenal today. Nothing less will keep CG quiet!””””

    CG will keep quiet when Arteta does his job and gets us top and in the CL and out of this ridiculous Loosers Cup.. If he does that, ill get back in my box,
    For good.

    Great to read Evertons Ancellotti stating in Telegraphs UK online that his and the players sole focus is Top 4 attainment this season.
    He knows he will get the chop if Everton falter.

    We need that from Arteta too.
    Its Top 4 or bust in the modern game.And if he don’t get the 3 points today. It will probably be bust.

    but I cant see anything other than an Arsenal victory. by a 2 goal margin. Fulham are abslolutely deeadful.

    Buy Arsenal to keep a clean sheet.

  13. Samir


    Would rather play Saka LWB but I think Arteta will probably go with AMN.

  14. CG


    “”””No-one discusses who will be the alternative goalkeeper if Martinez leaves and we are unable to recruit the Brentford Goalkeeper.””””

    And Mancy the no.3 wants out too.

    We have gone from having 3 strapping goalkeepers to 1 all of a sudden..

    For the life of me, I cant see the wisdom of selling Martinez now , when the transfer window will heat up in a few weeks..

    other clubs could loose a goalleeper from injury and offered us more cash in desperation.

    No chance with Edu and Vinny in charge.
    None whatsover.
    Only Arteta is stopping the whole bloody thing from unravelling.

  15. Freddie Ljungberg

    “The most likely scenario is that Emi Martinez leaves Arsenal because he wants to play,’ the shot-stopper’s agent, Lucas Martinez Quarta, told TyC Sports

    .He dreams of being the starting goalkeeper for the national team and he is willing to leave his home [at Arsenal] for the worthy cause of being Argentina’s number one.”

    Martinez agent, maybe time to stop blaming the club now? He shouldn’t get any guarantees at this stage,if he was confident in his ability he would duke it out with Leno this coming season, no way he wasn’t going to get his chances to play if he stayed.

  16. Champagne charlie

    New season, and it starts with a new line of speculative criticism..

    Now the players are getting injured because Arteta has a policy of rewarding hard workers in training and some are over doing it to prove themselves 😂

  17. Savage

    Apparently Martinez is in his last two years now. So in a way we scored a winner: got a blinding 3 months out of him, pushed his price way up, and now we cash in.

  18. Useroz

    If selling Martinez is mainly down to raising funds, been saying that Leno could fetch much more especially some on here think Leno is a much better than Martinez.

    Personally I think Martinez is more than good enough and exudes confidence not seen in our keepers , and yes Leno included, for awhile. This is PL not continental leagues so Leno may be a tad disadvantaged.

    It is what it is. Martinez should have kept his mouth in check and he’d have been starting the season I’d think.

    Unfortunately, with 7 midfielders on the book, we still don’t have a midfield Arsenal deserves, no less due to terrible ownership. That’s life.

    Fulham is the sort of games we ought to get 2 or 3 nil up by 1H Hope we’d do it. If we worry about a win, we are in deep shit, injuries or not.

  19. DivineSherlock

    Not that I want to start a raging debate but Gabriel > Saliba right ? Holding on the right , Gabriel to the left . Tierney and Bellerin . All of it points to 4-3-3 to me . I dont think Arteta will risk all his CBs today itself.

  20. andy1886

    “if willing, he’s more than capable of being a solve for us there”

    One goal, two assists and one big chance created last season suggests that that statement is nonsense for starters.

    I’m expecting us to score either none or several goals – if we get the break through we’ll add to it but if we can’t the more the game goes on the more Fulham will think that they can nick it.

    Being an optimist I’ll go for 0-3 to the away side.

  21. Dissenter

    Martinez helped Arteta out and saved him a lot of paracetamols for those selection headaches he would have had.
    I agree with Useroz that Martinez would have started today had he not run his mouth. It would have been hard to drop the goalie on form. It would have been Leno’s professionalisms that was being tested.

    Ultimately this was a case of Martinez forcing his way out of the club in a calculated manner, not Arsenal ditching him. It’s the right professional move for him.

  22. Goobergooner

    And here I am still refreshing the last post 😂

    The anticipation is brewing that is for sure and it’s 8pm on a Saturday night and I haven’t even cracked a brewsky. I’ll crack one to the lineup I guess haha.


  23. CaliGooner

    I’m up watching bing the premier league preview drinking my coffee and chasing my one year old that wants to destroy everything.

    2-0 to the arsenal today. If Luiz was healthy we play three at the back. No Luiz and we go four. This season we need to go at the smaller teams not play conservative. Let’s get as many attacking players on the oitxh as possible.


  24. Ishola70

    Serious stuff starts again.

    Six points required and expected from the first two games before Liverpool away.

    It will be a minor miracle if Fulham survive this season in the EPL.

  25. Aussie+Gooner

    “The game is too early for us from North America.“

    Game is on at a perfect time here in Western Australia – 7.30 pm. Usually I am up in the middle of the night with all the late kick offs or evening matches. And I still make it to work the next day!

    We need to come out with all guns blazing in order to show intent and provide the confidence to go forward. Start Willian and Ceballos, Start Gabriel and Saliba, be positive moving forward and try and establish some sort of midfield to open up the attack and take pressure off the defence.

  26. Nelson

    Arsenal: Leno, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Bellerin, Eleny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

    Subs: Macey, Kolasinac, Ceballos, Willock, Saka, Pepe, Nketiah.

  27. Aussie+Gooner

    Football London:

    “Here’s how Arsenal line up today at Craven Cottage:

    Arsenal: Leno, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Bellerin, Eleny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

    Subs: Macey, Kolasinac, Ceballos, Willock, Saka, Pepe, Nketiah.”

  28. Buzzy

    Arteta sure knows how to sap your fucking enthusiasm with his lineups…where’s Pepe? No Ozil? Saka not starting…Saliba not even on the bench and why the fuck is Elneny starting? …fuck it..the trophies have earned him the right..so COYG!!

  29. mb

    @Buzzy – exactly. No saka, Saliba nowhere to be seen? I was guessing Sal will get his chances ahead of Gabrielle!

    In any case, come on ya gunners! Get those three points with a 3 goal difference!

  30. Buzzy

    Andy yes looks like that..a front three with Pepe on right and William near the hole would have been more exciting..I still think we’ll be seeing Willian drift a lot towards the centre and supply to the front two

  31. Marc

    Sorry but unless we have serious fitness issues round a few players that’s a really negative starting 11 against a newly promoted team.

    Back 3, AMN (right footed) at LWB and a CM of Xhaka and Elneny.

    Fuck me it’s like Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce had a holiday fling and had a Spanish love child.

  32. DivineSherlock

    Martinez out of squad . Ozil out of squad . niceeee . Already fucked my Fantasy team with no Pepe . Thanks Arteta.

  33. azed

    Arteta has problems with technical players and prefers grafters hence no Ozil in the squad and Pepe on the bench.

    This message is sponsored by Pierre.

  34. Aussie+Gooner

    Not the most progresive line up – where is Saliba? No Saka, Pepe or Ceballos in the starting line up? Elneny and Xakah in midfield?

  35. TT

    Agree with you all that are not happy with the lineup. Arteta only sees these guys in training were we have the benefit of the internet and youtube and all that chit…

  36. Leftfootcurler

    Lol Pedro you are falsely optimistic.

    This is not a top 4 squad. You are judging by the results we had under Arteta so far but did you see our underlying stats? Against deep blocks?

    It’s going to continue.
    Structurally,there was no issue. Arteta just needs proper BTL players. So without investment, I just don’t see Arsenal improving enough to compete for top 4.

    One thing that can improve our creativity is if we buy Aouar.
    Aouar is not a creative player yet but he can create perfect situations for Willian to be creative.

    Willian is not great against a defensive block but he is great on the counter.

    If Aouar can attract opposition players to himself and break through their midfield lines via his world class dribbling,we can create a counter attacking type situation for Willian.

    Coming to this game,I have no idea how Fulham will setup.

    But David Luiz and Martinez are big big miss in our build up.

    If Fulham implement a deep block sufficiently well, arsenal will struggle to win.

    The key is to get AMN also into the final third to combine with laca and Willian.

    If those combinations happen sufficiently and we can release Auba through on goal,we can create.

    Otherwise we have to create via pressing.
    Win the ball high up the pitch and try to attack quickly.

  37. Paulinho

    Straight away having Willian there is comforting. A genuinely talented-all rounder that gives us much needed fluidity in areas we continually stuttered in last season.

  38. Marc

    Actually maybe this is a cunning plan by Arteta to get Kroenke to give him some money. Get whooped by Fulham and West Ham, bottom of the table and in a relegation battle after 2 matches and Kroenke might shit himself.

  39. Bojangles

    Considering most of our squad has been back just over a week, this selection may E the fittest on offer. Imo, still good enough to beat the mighty Fulham.

  40. The Godfather


    “ We could also see Mesut Ozil back in contention. The German international is out of the cold and he’s making a fuss online that he wants to play. “

    Well doesn’t look like yer claims on online fussing worked cuz he isn’t even in the lineup😭😭😭😭

  41. Leftfootcurler

    Even if the base formation is 343,it will transform into a 2-3-5 when we have the ball in opposition half.

    Gabriel and holding will play as CBs, Bellerin and Tierney as FBs pushing up to stretch Fulham’s defence, AMN(LCM),Xhaka(CM),Elneny(RCM)
    Auba (lw), laca( half ST,half 10), Willian (RW)

    THIS is when we have possession in their half, looking to score.

  42. Aussie+Gooner

    “….but they did so well in training…” Hope we don’t stumble against Fulham. Only a clear victory will do against a team that would be favourites for relegation.

  43. Henry

    Very conservative line up. Elneny ????
    The good news is Arteta didnt pamper to the blog writers who said Arteta was going to give Ozil and Guendouzi another chance.They dont even make the bennch

  44. Aussie+Gooner

    “Doubt anyone was seriously considering Saliba for this game.”

    I was! He has been out ‘on loan’ for a year, albeit with injury concerns and I would have at least expected him to be on the bench against a team like Fulham (no disrespect to them).

  45. Marc


    Saka and Pepe didn’t play a huge amount during the run in – why couldn’t one of them make the team?

    Right now Arteta just looks a very cautious coach. Overly cautious would not be unreasonable and people need t remember our goal difference post lock down in the PL.

  46. Pierre

    No problem with Elneny in the side ..he was quality v liverpool.

    I thought gabriel looked the better defender out of him and Saliba…

    Good to see Willian in the side .

  47. Dream10

    Very weird back line. Not a fan of having two left footers in a back three. This XI is dependent upon Willian’s set pieces and of course Aubameyang goal scoring ability.

    As for the season, we have to remember our underlying numbers last year were not great. We’ll need the league to be congested in order for us to have a chance at a CL spot.

    With the way Arteta picks teams and limited creativity, we are more likely to finish 10th than in the top 4. Every match is up for grabs, which is generally not a good sign. You need to feel confident of turning over a lower half side when you play them. A cup run or two is possible.

  48. Buzzy

    The only exciting thing about this lineup is Willian…i think he’s going to surprise a lot of people..he and Pulisic were the best players for Chelsea last season and Willians performance against Mourinhos Spurs was one the best Ive seen…low key signings like these sometimes end up being the best.

  49. GunnerDNA

    The best thing about that lineup is that Ozil is nowhere to be seen. If this is the lineup against Fulham, what will it be against Liverpool?

  50. Bojangles

    Saliba is a 19 year old CD. Different to a young attacking player. Not sure Arteta will play him too early in the pl. More likely play cup games.

  51. Ishola70

    Whether people like it or not Pepe’s playing time now is under real threat with the arrival of Willian.

    Willian has always been better playing from the flanks and drifting in to central areas rather than starting central.

    And as we see today the option again is to have Auba not as a starting central striker.

    It improves the options and strength of the squad but not so good personally for Pepe.

  52. Aussie+Gooner

    “Just a quick question – How many on here would pay £50 to watch that lineup?”

    Not me! I will be watching on some dodgy free internet stream!

    We need to get the excitement back in our game to get the fans on board. I am afraid that Arsenal’s status in world football has taken a hit in the last few years and this has had negative financial implications for the club. Sponsors want to see the fan base increasing in order to generate further revenue. Football is the global game and we need to play progressive and entreating football to attract a greater global fan base. And of course have success!

  53. Paulinho

    “So Soccer Saturday have really upped the quality of the line up!!!”

    Think it’s a pretty good line-up.

    For all the talk of Alex Scott, Sue Smith is miles better as the ‘token’ female.

  54. MidwestGun

    Hello Ladies. already in a tizzy are we? These are the players with the most fitness.. Gabriel is playing because Luiz is injured… Elneny because Ceballos just got here.. Pepe didn’t play at all in preseason.. I’d imagine that’s why. Arteta is looking for a bit of cohesiveness in a short short preseason.. Like chill already…sheesh. hahaha If this is our lineup in 4 weeks then freak out. I guess, if that’s your thing. Of course we need midfield help as has been noted about a billion times. For me Lacazette needs to step it up, today.

  55. curse

    that line up befuddles me.

    I hope Jay Leno has learnt how to catch instead of punching. He likes to flap around , emi for twenty is a mad ting.

  56. Dream10

    We have a massive squad by the way.

    Chambers, Saliba, Luiz, Cedric
    Torreira, Guendouzi
    Nelson, Özil, Smith Rowe

    All not in the squad

  57. Paulinho

    Marc – Ha ha, I must be the only one that likes Sherwood.

    Pulis, granted, is a twat.

    I do find it quite funny though that people were expecting some progressive panel and they roll out pundits even more ‘primitive’ than the old crowd. Wonder if they did it on purpose after all the virtue-signalling stick they were getting after sacking off Le Tissier, Thompson, Nicholas.

  58. Marc


    I’ve got to say I’m amazed by the line up – wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the “old” guys back in time. Really thought we were going to see a progressive line up of one legged, left handed black lesbians who don’t agree with having winners and loses!

  59. Up 4 grabs now

    Lol with all the centre backs we have, not one on the bench?
    Let’s hope no one gets Injured, otherwise it’s elneney or xhaka moved in there.

  60. MidwestGun

    This is family, shut the f up
    Sid you haven’t met most peoples families then… My brother hasn’t shut the F up in 50 years.

  61. Aussie+Gooner

    “An interesting moment during the rondo in Arsenal’s warm up there. It looked like Dani Ceballos went in a little hard on Eddie Nketiah and there were some handbags afterwards,”

  62. Bamford10

    I was hoping to see a 4-3-3 with Willian the CAM, so this is a little disappointing. I guess it may take a bit more time and training for Arteta to be comfortable setting up that way, but I hope that’s the plan. The 3-4-3 has a number of disadvantages, including the fact that today it leaves a £72m forward sitting on the bench. One has to ask: what exactly was the point of spending that much money on a player if he doesn’t even start? A line-up that sees both Willian and Pepe in the XI would be better, IMO.

  63. TheLegendaryDB10

    This line up is a bit underwhelming. I can understand maybe why Saliba is not playing as it is his first steps in the PL. As for Ceballos, is he not fit enough to start? If not, why?

    As for the Martinez, i just hope he doesn’t leave. He really suits us to a T.

  64. GS88

    So the new 2020/21 season is upon us. We still need 1-2 new signings.

    Partey/Aouar/Edouard. Who is it to be?

    And we need to sell some surplus players as well, but with the few injuries we have, it makes things a bit difficult.

    Anyway, onto the game. I don’t want to predict a score, but just to say let’s play well and get off to a great start.