Fulham manager Martin Jol has demanded his Fulham side play more like “warriors”, starting with tomorrow’s Barclays Premier League trip to Arsenal.
Days after the Cottagers’ 2-2 draw with Everton, Jol was still fuming at the way they had allowed themselves to be completely dominated in a home match before getting out of jail with a stoppage-time equaliser.
The Dutchman admitted he did not have the type of players who enjoyed chasing the ball but warned he would not tolerate such a limp attempt to win it back at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow.
“When we don’t have the ball, we don’t have these warriors, probably, and that is what we’re working on,” Jol said.
“That is what we saw against Everton, for example. We want to be better off the ball.
“And if you are good on the ball, you can cause any team a problem.
“So, hopefully, we can do better than what we did against Everton because that was not good at all.”
Jol insisted he had made his players fully aware of what was expected of them, adding: “Of course we didn’t do everything right – and we knew that.
“Hopefully, we can do better.”
That could depend on the fitness of midfield strongman Mahamadou Diarra, who is in a race against time to shake off another knee injury after Jol rated him only “50-50” to do so yesterday.
Should he be declared fit then there is every chance of Fulham travelling to Arsenal less in hope and more in expectation, despite having won none and lost all but three of their visits there.
They came within eight minutes of an historic victory at the Emirates last season and also won the reverse fixture.
The Gunners also appear to be extremely vulnerable at present, having won just four of their 10 Premier League games, the same number as Fulham, who they are level with on 15 points in the table.
Arsene Wenger’s men also threw away a two-goal lead in Tuesday’s Champions League game with Schalke.
Fulham have therefore arguably never had a better chance to beat their London rivals away from home and asked if it was a good or bad time to play them, Jol said: “Ask me after the game.
“But it’s always nice to see them play in Europe, especially away from home.
“I prefer them to play on a Wednesday – that is the only minor thing.”
Fulham were in the Europa League last season, and Jol added: “We’ve played so many good games after playing on a Thursday and we played a few bad games as well after playing on a Thursday.”
Arsenal also appear to be badly missing the goals of Robin van Persie following the Footballer of the Year’s summer defection to Manchester United.
But Jol was nevertheless wary of the threat of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.
“Podolski will always score at least 15 goals,” he said.
“He comes from the left, he plays on the left, so he’s like Clint Dempsey almost.
“Podolski always did that in Germany, so I think he will do that again.
“That will probably make things better for them.
“Everyone wanted Giroud last year. He was top scorer in France and I think he was a very good buy.
“He maybe needs a couple of months and then he will score his goals.”
He added: “It’s a matter of how long do they need to gel these players together and be a strong unit again.
“Hopefully, that will take them a couple of weeks.”