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Arsenal moved eight points clear of Manchester City this afternoon with a comfortable 4-1 win over increasingly relegation-threatened Palace. As songs heralding Patrick Vieira rang out across North London, I sensed that the Arsenal family is becoming so enveloping and tight that part of the satisfaction from this win came from paying them back the insult to a bona fide Arsenal legend. And talking of bona fide Arsenal legends we were able to welcome four of them onto the pitch at half-time (see above). I’m conscious that these great stars don’t have the resonance they should have with the young supporters who inhabit the Stadium so raucously now but I could never really relate fully to Alex James and Cliff Bastin and David Jack when I was growing up. I have a chat scheduled with Bob Wilson tomorrow and I will be fascinated to learn what the legends thought of this crisp and enterprising performance.

There was no sign of a hangover from the disappointment of Thursday evening. As time goes on I consider it almost a blessing that we have now got the opportunity to focus and while I dislike Citeh intensely I see it as a huge advantage that they are committed on three fronts. Let the Cyborg go on scoring but let’s hope intense Premier League games prove a step too far for them as the season grinds on.

We picked a predictable team. Saliba was missing but his prospects seem relatively good for avoiding a long lay-off whilst I suspect Tomiyasu won’t be seen in an Arsenal shirt again this season. Trossard formed part of the three upfront and Capitola Rob Holding, the ‘bestie‘ of scruzgooner came in at centre back.

Palace hadn’t lost at Arsenal for five seasons, often because Zaha is a major headache to us and in the 10th minute he drove forward to fire in a near post shot which struck the post rebounded onto  the diving Ramsdale’s legs and then, rather fortunately, deflected past his post. Ramsdale then made a very brave save to block a Palace breakaway for the move to be ruled offside. The ‘keeper could have been seriously injured for no reason as a result of this ridiculous rule which allows play to unwind when officials know it is to be ruled offside. 

After this we started to dominate but just after the first quarter had passed I remarked to my neighbour that we had not forced their young keeper to make a save. Seconds later he didn’t save again but this was because Martinelli had latched onto a Saka pass and belted it into the far corner 

28 mins: Arsenal 1 Palace 0 

We were clearly dominating play now with Ødegaard playing brilliantly in the number 10 role, Saka shredding Mitchell, a top young full-back, every time he got near him and Ben White catching the eye with superb overlaps. I love watching this team with its complexity, intelligence and athleticism. They are so hard to contain and Palace just couldn’t do it.

Two minutes from halftime the enterprising White fed Saka and he drove it into the far corner for our second goal which survived a VAR check 

43 mins: Arsenal 2 Palace 0 

Half-time was reached shortly afterwards. One sensed Palace were extremely frazzled by the movement of the Arsenal front three and welcomed the break during which our legends entered the arena.

Half-time:  Arsenal 2 Palace 0 

I didn’t envy Paddy McCarthy’s job (was he the guy Val Doonican sang about with the goat?) trying to lift a team that had not won all year and who had been trying to halt a tidal wave of attacks. Xhaka had gone down with what seemed momentarily to be a serious knock but the man is made of Granit and is again getting forward more as he did earlier in the season. Ten minutes into the second half he scored our third latching on to an intelligent Trossard pass (his sixth assist since he signed) and bumping  the ball past the keeper 

55 mins: Arsenal 3 Palace 0 

The destination of the points was no longer in doubt but we did start to harbour some fantasies about a serious hike in our goal difference. Alas, the next goal went to Palace. Our set-piece coach might need a friendly word with Mr. Arteta as we conceded from a ‘bog standard’ left wing corner which hit Schlupp in the midriff and fell for him to knock the ball beyond Ramsdale. This passed a VAR inspection for handball.

63 minutes: Arsenal 3 Palace 1 

Zaha, who had forced a good save from Ramsdale early in the second half, then might have done better when well-placed, as he screwed the ball wide of the right-hand post. He is a player who always makes an impact when he plays against us. If he did this every time he played and if he were eight years younger he would be a no-brainer free signing but he also seems often to be afflicted with a weird form of labyrinthiitis which renders him incapable of staying on his feet when challenged. 

Arsenal continued as they began and among a rash of substitutions, Tierney took up the left-back berth and cut the ball back to Saka who lashed the ball home to make the points completely safe. Again VAR reared its ugly head but the goal was ruled onside .

77 mins: Arsenal 4 Palace 1 

Arsenal played out the rest of the game comfortably with Jesús getting more minutes and rather oddly Partey ending the game at right back, Kiwior came on for his league debut and twice we saw Arsenal defenders show exceptional pace to thwart Palace attacks firstly Tierney and then Kiwior. We have a big squad but we really don’t want to see Ben White getting injured.

Final score: Arsenal 4 Palace 1 

It’s almost surreal to find ourselves so far ahead at the top of the table playing such incisive and intelligent football. In our last four league games we’ve scored fourteen goals and conceded three. We now await what the interlull may bring and prepare to resume in just under a fortnight with Liverpool travelling to the Etihad and a few hours later us welcoming Leeds to the Home of Football. Heady times and evidence today that there is a thread of excellence that has run intermittently through the club over the last fifty years. Please may another special chapter be about to be written 

And so, in what has undoubtedly been the most exciting PL title race for at least 19 years, we are down to the last 11 games. I was sorely tempted to make this preview a 2-word Just Win piece of reductionism, however, on reflection, there were perhaps a few things to say about the week’s events and whether ‘tis wiser to suffer the slings and arrows etc, etc. Was that the question?

But Before That – The Second Lump of PL Sugar

Sunday’s game against Palace is our last before the interlull and marks the end of a 14-game run in the league since the World Cup. As you will no doubt recall the 14 games prior to the World Cup saw us open-up a 5-point lead at the top of the table, in 1stplace, which, just to be clear, is higher than all the other places. How have things gone since? In an eventful post-Qatar couple of months, we have suffered the loss of Jesús, delighted in the ascension of Eddie & Leo, endured some winter wobbles, and, of late, roared our team to 5 occasionally heart-stopping league wins in a row. At the end of all that we find ourselves still 5 points clear and with an opportunity this Saturday to make it 8 as Man Shitteh are otherwise engaged. So, in answer to my own question – it has gone pretty damn swimmingly league-wise despite what the increasingly desperate Northern punditry would have you believe. We have not folded at the first setback, we have not panicked, we have not lost confidence and we have re-found Jesús. We will be top after the interlull, our fate will be in our hands, and there will be nothing our nation state competitors and all their money can do except pray our nerve fails. Well, unless they take a leaf out of Barca’s book and just bribe the referees I suppose, I should add ‘allegedly’ as of course there are so very, very many possible reasons you would give millions of euros to a senior referee for a non-existent report other than blatant corruption. Anyway, I digress BMBD-ly and to come back to the point – we are still top and the second lump of sugar has been just as sweet as the first. Now kids, please check with your dentist before you try this at home but I personally am looking forward to that third lump in my great big shiny trophy after the interlull.

The Opposition

Palace were formed in 1905 and have won nothing of any import since. Irritatingly, their only two opportunities in FA Cup finals both ended in defeats to Man Surrey. So, a bust on the previous 118 futile years – what then of this season? Well, three things of note I suppose, firstly they lost 2-0 to The Arsenal in the first game of the season, an important win as it happens. We showed a steely determination to hold our lead and a ruthless streak to finish them off near the end. We welcomed the phenomenon that is SALIBA! and banished any lingering shreds of disappointment from the previous season.  Secondly, they took Sambi on loan, which is obviously helpful. However, I find myself with more ambiguous feelings on the third – to wit the panicky dismissal of Patrick Vieira this week. In a way it is good for PV4 to shake off the mediocrity that is Palace and to have gotten some PL management experience under his belt, on the other hand, as with Kompany the decision doesn’t sit well with me. Whilst Kompany made some sound points around the expectations Palace should have with their current squad – (i.e. it’s a poor bunch and Patrick has done well to keep them out of the relegation zone), my own annoyance was the “enormous regret” nonsense from Parish. Personally, I think the mendacious hypocrite leaked the upcoming story himself a couple of days before to smooth the way. Anyway, I certainly won’t feel enormous regret if the decision backfires and Palace get relegated, in fact I will laugh happily and raise a glass to PV4.  Let’s set them on their way with a sound thrashing tomorrow. 

Oh yes, I almost forgot their team. Usual bunch basically, Zaha, Ayew, Mitchell, Schlupp, Eze maybe. No Sambi obviously. They had not had a shot on target in three games apparently until taking three unproductive ones in their 0-1 defeat to Brighton on Wednesday. Nor have they won in ages so barring a no-manager bounce of extraordinary proportions we should be able to take care of them handily if we play well. A couple of early goals to settle my our nerves and shatter theirs would be just the ticket. Of course, if we don’t play well, then we will have to grind it out, but we have shown recently that we are quite capable of grinding like Cliff Thorburn when needs must. For those of you born after 1985, Cliff Thorburn was the brand name of a popular cure for insomnia in the 1980s. 

The Starting XI

To be honest I do not know who is fit now and who is not. I am guessing that William will be available and that our other players will have come out of Thursday’s exertions with a clean bill of health. If so, I would expect the team below………


Benjamin William Gabriel Zin

Øde Partey Xhaka

Saka Leo Gabi

I would not be at all surprised if that XI is not correct. One worry would be Ben playing far more than we intended but I see few options at RB with Tomi seemingly crocked again, and the other better ‘problem’ would be if Jesús is seen as ready to start. If William isn’t fit, then I expect Rob will start.

Regardless of who starts, I trust the core of this team is good enough for three points today. A clean sheet and no injuries would be very nice side dishes to go with our 8-point lead.

The Holic Pound

After having failed to get a shot on target in three of their last four games and no goals in four games, it seems annoyingly inevitable that Palace will score today so I will go for a 4-1 win at 20-1 for The Arsenal. Hopefully, Jesús will get himself back on the scoresheet and Rammy will save a penalty (winks). Sporting who?

For those of you attending the game from near or far I hope your planes, trains and automobiles deliver you safe and sound and for the rest of us may we enjoy the game from a comfy sofa with a beverage of choice near to hand. Thanks to you all who have read this far and COYGs!!!

The goal in the knock-out rounds of any tournament is not to get knocked out. In that regard, we failed to achieve our goal on a wet Thursday in N5. Sporting Lisbon won the first competitive penalty shootout at the Emirates, 5-3, after our Europa League Round of 16 second leg had ended 1-1 after extra time, with the aggregate score at 3-3.

The result makes moot one of the questions that 21st Century Gooner so succinctly posed in his excellent preview: should we prioritise the Premier League title, last won in 2004, over European silverware, last won in 1994? 

It does not, yet, provide an answer to his other salient question, might the pursuit of the Europa League trophy adversely impact our run-in for the Premier League title, a trophy most in this estimable establishment and the wider Goonerverse would consider the essential piece of silverware that the manager should be lifting at season’s end?

Elimination from the Europa League might be thought to tilt the balance to the positive side—fewer games to tax a young squad still learning how to pace themselves to the winning line. Yet, our first big European night at the Ems in three years (group games do not really count) tipped the scales in the other direction. 

Among the negatives, Tomiyasu and Saliba were both lost to injury in the first 20 minutes; an additional half-hour of extra time will have only further drained legs that we shall need fresh on Sunday for the league visit of Palace, legs already wearied by an energy-sapping game played at high pace with Sporting pressing and counter-pressing with intensity and scrapping for every second ball; and the emotional exhaustion of defeat in a game in which we were second best for most of the time but nearly pulled off another last-gasp victory, only to be denied in extra time by three outstanding saves by Sporting’s keeper, Adan.

By naming a strong team, Arteta answered the pre-match speculation about how seriously he would/should take the Europa League. Having called out the defensive performance in the first leg, he started all the first-choice defenders save for Ben White, returning him (briefly, as it happened), Matt Turner and Jakub Kiwior to the bench. 

As Arteta had also highlighted the lack of midfield control in Lisbon in the face of Sporting’s press, it was a slight surprise to see our master controllers, Thomas Partey and Martin Ødegaard, both start on the bench. Yet Arteta’s cunning plan was to counter Sporting’s 3-4-3 and midfield overloads with a 4-4-2. Midfield duties were assigned to Reiss Nelson, Jorginho, Granit Xhaka and Fabio Vieira, with two of Arteta’s collection of Gabis, Jesus and Martinelli, upfront. This selection promised to morph into the more accustomed 4-3-3 when we were attacking and allowed Bukayo Saka to put his feet up on the bench for a much-deserved and needed rest.

For Sporting, there were two changes from the first leg, Ousmane Diomande and Manuel Ugarte coming in for suspended captain Sebastian Coates and Hidemasa Morita in defence and midfield, respectively.

With the score level pegging at 2-2 from the first leg and away goals no longer counting double, both sides knew they needed to win.

I will not relay a blow-by-blow account. Suffice it to say Sporting settled the faster, pressing hard and preventing us from establishing any rhythm. We struggled to string passes together or to hold onto the ball. After a quarter of an hour, we started to find our feet and scored, somewhat against the run of play. Jorginho, the Italian with a Brazilian name, fed Martinelli on the left wing. The Brazilian with an Italian name, hared for goal, cutting in as he reached the penalty area. Adan’s left leg blocked Gabi’s hard, low strike for the far corner, but the ball rebounded to Xhaka, some 12 yards out, who hammered it into the corner Martinelli had been aiming for. ‘One-nil to the Arsenal’ rang out, and thus it stayed, somewhat uneasily, until half-time.

HT 1-0 (agg 3-2)

The second half started in the same fashion as the first. Again, we could not establish control and were being harried out of possession by Sporting’s press. However, this time, this continued until the 90 minutes were up. 

Our one-goal advantage was negated in the 62nd minute by Gonçalves spectacularly chipping the backpedalling Ramsdale from 46 yards after we had again turned over the ball. Almost immediately, Ramsdale saw a powerful header pass narrowly over his bar and then had to produce a top-draw save to deny Edwards, formerly of a neighbouring parish of little repute. We were rocking, and not in a good way.

The early injuries to Tomiyasu, who slipped going into a tackle, doing the splits and injuring his groin, apparently seriously, and Saliba, who ricked his back, had removed two of Arteta’s three opportunities for tactical substitutions that might have turned the tide. The lively Jesus was withdrawn at half-time rather than after 60 mins as planned, so Arteta could retain some flexibility over making a second-half double change. Partey and Saka came on for Jorginho and Nelson with 25 minutes of normal time to go. That stabilised us, but Sporting remained dangerous on the break, and we remained our worst enemy, mispassing and giving away the ball. There were chances at both ends, but the card-happy Spanish referee, Maleu Lahoz, blew for full-time with the scores still level in the match and the tie.

FT 1-1. (agg 3-3)

In extra time we were a team transformed, playing on the front foot and attacking Sporting as we looked for a late winner as we had done successfully against Villa and Bournemouth. Trossard was nearly gifted that six minutes into extra time via a sloppy back pass, but Adan produced an excellent save to touch the Belgian’s shot onto a post, and the ball bounced to safety. An offside flag then negated an appeal for a handball, as it had two decent first-half penalty shouts for players bundled over; in some games, you just don’t get the breaks.

As the clock wound down towards 120 minutes, Gabriel was twice denied by top saves by Adan, and Sporting had Ugarte sent off for a second yellow for taking time off from clattering Martinelli to clatter Saka. But the winning goal could not be forced. 

AET 1-1 (agg 3-3)

And so the shootout. Sporting were perfect, but that man Adan again denied Martinelli. Nuno Santos slotted the fifth and winning penalty. We were out.

Penalties 3-5.

Over the two legs, we probably needn’t have lost, but it is difficult to say that we deserved to win. Arteta has a huge task now to lift tired minds and bodies and deflated spirits for Sunday. Whether his young team can dust themselves down and pick themselves up will be a real measure of whether they have the reserves of what it takes for the only thing they now have left to concentrate on, becoming league champions.

So here we are. Europa League football is back in N5 for the first time this calendar year. We take a 2-2 draw into the second leg, and now the widely debated away goals rule has been scrapped, it means effectively the tie is still 0-0. We have to score if we are to go through to the last eight. Alternatively, we could not score and keep out Sporting Lisbon and take them to extra time and if needs be, a penalty shootout. In its near seventeen years of existence the Emirates Stadium has never seen a penalty shootout. Hopefully tomorrow night doesn’t break that trend because it’s all a bit of a faff and we would all like to get home in our warm beds before midnight. And we have a far more important game on Sunday. Let’s just try to get through without any nosebleeds and papercuts and everyone will be happy.

Due to our rather unexpected title charge, the Europa League has taken more of a backseat this season than it has in the past. Previously it was viewed as a means of qualification for the “We Actually Didn’t Win Our Domestic League But We Need The Cash” Champions League. But with a top 4 finish all but a certainty, that hasn’t been the case. This has meant our Europa League fixtures have garnered less interest and enthusiasm from a lot of fans, not that there was much of that previously. We trundled through the group stages overcoming European giants such as FC Zurich and Bodø/Glimt, who are surely the only professional football club in the world with a bit of punctuation in the middle of their name. We won the group and thus avoided a ludicrous play-off with one of the Champions League rejects. Then in last week’s game out in the Portuguese capital, we stumbled to a draw. So, our European campaign thus far has offered little to write home about to say the least.

All of which begs the question; does anyone really care about winning this thing? There are arguments for both sides. An argument for could well be the fact that our cabinet is a little bare when it comes to European silverware. In terms of domestic success, we are very well fed and watered but all we have to show for our continental exploits is the 1970 Fairs Cup and the 1994 Cup Winners Cup. Both competitions have now been made redundant by UEFA although you can argue one of them has been replaced by the Europa League. Given we now have three European competitions, and one of them was created last season probably for a laugh, it’s entirely possible. And winning this year’s competition would repair at least some of the trauma of some of our near misses. There was the famous Nayim from the halfway line winner for Real Zaragoza in 1995 as we failed to retain the cup from the previous year. Apparently, every time a Spurs fan suffers from erectile dysfunction, they replay the goal on YouTube. Sad bunch. Then there was a traumatic loss on penalties to Galatasaray in the 2000 UEFA Cup final which was marred by crowd trouble between both sets of fans in Copenhagen. And of course, our only Champions League final appearance to date ended in heartbreak in the Parisian rain against our old nemesis, Barcelona. But we saved the best for the 2019 Europa League final when a spineless Arsenal side collapsed in the second half against Chelsea. Sprinkle in seven consecutive UCL Last 16 exits and our record on the continent is pitiful to say the least. We have had far too little European success on the continent for a club of our magnitude. Perhaps it is high time we put an end to that.

However, more cynical Gooners might say, a first league title in nearly twenty years is more important. Can we juggle both domestic and European exploits in what could be a pivotal and congested run in? In fairness, up to this point we have managed this. Immediately following our seven Europa League matches this season, our record stands at won six, drawn 1, lost 0. So that does indicate we possess the depth to compete on both fronts. However, as we venture deeper into the competition, we are inevitably going to face sterner competition than we have so far. If you have a semi-final against Juventus on the Thursday and a pivotal clash at Newcastle on the Sunday, with the league in sight, which one do you prioritise? I think most would say the league but from Arteta’s selections so far, he wants both. For us peasants in the stands and behind our sofas at home, we are just praying for no injuries. But personally, I would trust Arteta to get the balance just right.

As for our opponents we should expect another physical and tactical battle as we saw last week. We will have to watch out for diminutive forwards, such as Marcus Edwards, on the transition and also we will have to be on our A-game to break them down which we struggled to do in parts last Thursday. Sporting will be without former Liverpool centre back, Sebastian Coates, and centre half partner Morita due to suspension whilst we have a clean bill of health for everyone bar Elneny and Nketiah. As for the team selection, most will be hoping to see Gabriel Jesus from the start but I think this is unlikely. What we have heard from the club is that Jesus will be eased back to full fitness with the aid of 15-20 minute cameos off the bench. Sunday’s first half display at Fulham provided us with the perfect opportunity to do just that and it has to be said, the Brazilian did look sharp as a needle. That said, I would be surprised to see him from the start. I think the team will be something approaching this:


Tomiyasu — Saliba — Kiwior — KT

Xhaka — Jorginho


Saka — Nelson


That would come to seven changes from the weekend, and we would still be able to field a very able side. Perhaps we will see ESR on the left and Nelson on the right, but I think that if Arteta started Saka in the first leg, he would repeat the trick in the second. I will be in attendance for this one and I am expectant of a solid performance and a big atmosphere on a European night in N5. I am going for a 2-0 victory with goals from Trossard and Nelson. COYG!!

As good Holics do, we were about to leave the ground when we noticed a brand new bar (which had been besieged at half-time) was virtually empty. So we did the obvious thing and carried out a taste test to see whether the Camden Pale Ale at Craven Cottage was inferior to that at the Home of Football. Inconclusive – one of the very few inconclusive things we saw today. 

As I shuffled to the bar (I always slow things up when I’m paying) I came face to face with a very unhappy looking Fulham fan. Being a conversational sort and not wanting to gloat or even reveal that I was an Arsenal fan I made inane conversation about hoping this time next week things might seem a lot happier from a Fulham perspective. (They play United in the sixth round of the FA Cup.) His reply was instructive. “Oh, it will mate, we don’t have to play this lot again. They’re the best team in the league and no one can get near them.” 

It was a source of great pride and satisfaction to see one’s team described like that but today it was a very fair assessment. I watched Manchester City play an inferior team last night (Fulham beat Palace 3-0 at Selhurst) and really struggle to overcome them. Today, we saw a team who less than 72 hours before were locked in battle in Lisbon quash a team that has been one of the revelations of the season. 

The pleasure of the match was immeasurably enhanced by the company of two of GHF’s finest, BtM and Bathgooner and in Holic fashion we prepared for the match by taking lunch in a cheeky Italian eaterie near Putney Bridge. Neither of my companions had visited Craven Cottage before and we were to be ensconced in the new, unfinished Riverside Stand. Two weeks on and we’d have been able to see the Boat Race as well! The Riverside Stand is starting to rival the Sagrada Familia for the time taken to construct it! I didn’t notice Gaudé had signed the architect’s contract.

In truth, it was a good vantage point and we were greeted by the news that Trossard had returned to the starting eleven and Jesús was on the bench. I had been concerned that a return over Easter would lead to the most extensive litany of ‘Jesús returns’ headlines ever seen. His earlier resurrection was both a surprise and an inspiration to his many disciples.

So, to the game. Our team was the usual back five, the usual midfield, with Trossard as a false 9, flanked by Saka and Martinelli. Though having said that, the bewildering interchange involving Zinchenko, Trossard and Martinelli was way too much for Fulham. After an energetic but sterile first ten minutes in which Fulham tried to compress play in the Arsenal half we took the lead in the 16th minute when Xhaka played a fine ball behind Tete and Martinelli tested Leno, formerly of this parish, only to see Leno’s parry bounce in off Robinson. The spectre of VAR soon appeared and the goal was eventually ruled out for offside.

Fortunately, the team was not affected and four minutes later Trossard’s corner was headed in by Gabriel. Fulham put nobody on the post and got outmanoeuvred by Partey and Gabriel for our twelfth goal from a set piece this season.  

0-1, 20 minutes 

We were now massively on top and increased our lead a few minutes later. The goal was notable for the quality of the assist from Trossard. After 18 consecutive passes, beginning on our left midfield flank and progressing to our right defensive flank, the 19th raking pass from Saliba on the right side of our box found Xhaka in space in left midfield. Xhaka advanced towards the Fulham backline then put Trossard in on the left of the Fulham box. The Belgian had little room to work with but put up a steepling cross and Martinelli outjumped Robinson to head it in. 

0-2, 24 minutes 

Confidence flooded through the team. Saliba ended a fierce forward run with a shot that went narrowly over. A great ball by Ødegaard was dummied between Trossard and Xhaka to leave the latter to walk the ball in, but he couldn’t. Trossard sliced just wide after another fine move. Fulham offered little riposte. A conventional striker like Mitrovic gets marginalised in a game where his team has so little possession. Solomon on the left looked lively and speared one ball across goal but even in two long spells of possession Fulham couldn’t ever get into our penalty area. Just before half-time, a lovely break down the left saw Xhaka play in Trossard who fed Ødegaard a long chest-high cross which he controlled effortlessly, went round a defender and bent the ball into the far corner. 

0-3, 45+2minutes 

Half-time came immediately after: Fulham 0 Arsenal 3 

During a comfort break I heard the in-house Fulham magazine bemoan the situation and suggest that “a win was fairly out of the question”. Get away!

Arsenal played a canny second half although the bar was rattled from a right wing cross and Ramsdale didn’t deal cleanly with balls into the box. Mitrovic was totally neutralised except for a fine second half header which smacked the bar and Ramsdale saved from De Cordova Reed. However, Arsenal created the better second half chances, the best of which fell to Jesús who returned 20 minutes from the end to huge relief and excitement. He brilliantly span a defender on the left, fed Vieira who passed the ball back but Leno blocked Jesús’s shot. He threw himself on the floor in frustration. But, in that moment you remembered just how exciting Jesús makes our attack and how hard he works.  Partey produced a couple of filthy pieces of control and strolled through the game like the world’s best holding midfielder, which he may well be and the team exerted complete control despite numerous changes. 

Full Time: Fulham 0 Arsenal 3 

It was a superb performance which showcased just how good we are becoming. We made three or four relatively small mistakes in ninety minutes and they stood out like sore thumbs because the quality of our passing, covering and movement is so excellent. We are particularly good at increasing the tempo to warp speed, catching defences on the hop rendering them unable to cope. Picking a MOTM is an invidious if enjoyable job. Trossard was very effective, Ødegaard quite brilliant in his control of the game, Partey is a sublime monster and Saliba takes your breath away. I think my choice would just be Ødegaard, the metronome of the team but the introduction of Trossard has simply been a triumph of enlightened team-building and we now have so many options with players returning.

These are heady times. Champions League qualification is effectively assured with a dozen games to go but we want, we crave and we deserve the title. 

Fulham is a nice club, a good club and who knows, the next time we play them may be the Community Shield in August! Wouldn’t that be nice? 

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