There’s no doubt that, looking back on yesterday, that was Fulham’s best performance of the season so far. Just a shame we didn’t have anything to show for it by the end. The way three or four of the players sunk to their knees after the final whistle suggested they knew it was one that got away. Afterwards, a number of Arsenal fans were fullsome in their praise – which was nice, but I’d have preferred a point.
The game hinged on one moment that highlighted the difference between the two sides. Konchesky was a little lax in possession and Robin van Persie was clinical in front of goal. Arsenal might have only mustered a couple of shots on target, but they showed a ruthlessness that – for all our heart and endeavour – Fulham lacked. However well young Vino Mannone played, Dempsey and Zamora were a little wasteful – and our inability to score is something of a concern.
Before we get a little glass-half-empty, there were plenty of positives to dwell on. John Pantsil might have been worried about facing Andrei Arshavin but if he was he didn’t show it. The Russian threatened to get the better of him with a couple of mazy early runs but Pantsil stuck to the task admirably and was probably our best defender. He might countless important blocks and a couple of impeccable last-ditch challenges.
Midfield was the pleasing area for me. Danny Murphy seemed restored to his former self, looking busy and playing smart passes. Dickson Etuhu put in the yards and broke up the play well and, if Dempsey was both quite and a little disappointing in front of goal, that was more than offset by a fun performance from Zoltan Gera. There were the usual moans and groans from a few in front of me when he replaced Damien Duff but he looked adventurous going forward, whipping over a few inviting crosses, strong in the tackle and full of running. If Duff and Simon Davies are out for a while, Gera might just coming into form at the right time.
Fulham are back in European action on Thursday when we welcome Basel to the Cottage. It will be interesting to see what sort of team Roy puts out, especially as Sunday’s trip to West Ham now takes on added significance. I’d be disappointed if we didn’t have a go at taking the game to Basel – as you get the sense that winning our games will be the only way we’ll make it through the group stage. To that end, it would be nice to see AJ and Zamora (who looked a real partnership yesterday) getting another run out.
Let’s hope we can turn in performances of that quality on a regular basis.