Welcome to Talking Heads.
Before and after every first-team fixture, our MatchDay Show guest and an Arsenal blogger will have their say on the game.
Arsenal took on Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday and our Talking Heads for this game were former Gunner Stephen Hughes and Julian Harris of Gingers For Limpar.
STEPHEN HUGHES, CO-COMMENTATOR
It was an entertaining game for the neutral - as Arsenal games often are - and we could have won it with the last kick of the game. That would have been a good comeback but you can't begrudge Fulham a point because they deserved it. Defensively we were very open at times which was very disappointing and we have to do better there.
I think we struggled a bit in midfield, Francis Coquelin had an opportunity but it was a tough game for him. It's the derby next week of course and it will be interesting to see who starts in midfield - Jack Wilshere will be available after his suspension and Aaron Ramsey is also in contention.
There were positives from Saturday of course - I thought Olivier Giroud was outstanding up front, he led the line well, won headers and took his goals well. It's good to have a presence in the penalty area and we certainly look more dangerous from corners with Giroud in there.
Coming off a very difficult game in the week against Schalke and the one last weekend against Manchester United, this becomes a must-win game. I think with the game being at home as well, taking three points becomes vital.
The team seem to have lost a bit of confidence and belief after the international break and it’s been well documented that they haven’t been playing that well. Sometimes you have to grind results out - the main way to build confidence is by winning games. Saturday is another London derby and I don’t think you can look further than that.
It’s a results business but performances are vital. I think the boss spoke about belief the other day. Belief and confidence are massive in football. They can go as quickly as they come. You can see individuals struggling at the moment and some have lost a bit of form. Some players are just coming back from injury and aren’t fully sharp yet. The belief in the team is not as high as it should be, and neither is the confidence. Let’s just hope the team can regain that quickly.
Fulham have bought a fantastic striker in Berbatov. He’s proven and it was a great bit of business for them. He’s a real handful and he will score goals. He gives them more of an attacking threat than they have perhaps had in the past. They’re always quite solid. They’re a consistent Premier League team and have a manager I rate very highly. It will be a difficult game but I think Arsenal will have just about enough and can win 2-1.
JULIAN HARRIS, GINGERS FOR LIMPAR
Funny business, this football stuff. Having endured many games this season in which the team was fairly tight at the back but struggled to put the ball in the net, we now seem to have reverted to a free-scoring Arsenal that cannot defend.
Martin Jol defied my pre-game prediction that he might look to stifle Arsenal by instead starting with the usual four forward players and telling his side to get at us. After his side went two goals down, we may have expected our boys to force Fulham into a more passive shape, or to catch them on the break if they continued to attack. Yet two avoidable goals destroyed any such possibilities and set up a frenetic second half.
There were positives from the game. Olivier Giroud is gaining confidence with every minute that passes, while Santi Cazorla played some excellent football and Theo Walcott offered an awful lot on the right wing. Hopefully his injury isn’t too bad, and hopefully Kieran Gibbs comes back soon to help our left-hand side. Our inability to create chances down the left is a concern, as is the sudden inability to hold onto two-goal leads. Hopefully the team can brush aside these negatives ahead of next week’s somewhat more important London derby.
Fulham are an excellent side but have been vulnerable at the back during their travels this season, conceding a dozen goals in five Premier League away games. Yet Martin Jol is no fool and he could set up his side with the intention of frustrating our attack. Alas in certain games of late, it hasn’t taken much to stifle our play in the final third – although the game on Tuesday offered some glimmers of hope. On occasions the boys looked good on the break and Olivier Giroud’s goal showed that it only takes one moment of clever movement to break a defence.
Doing his best Swiss Toni impersonation, Arsène Wenger once said: “A football team is like a beautiful woman. When you do not tell her, she forgets she is beautiful.” He echoed this last week by saying his players “have forgotten a little bit how good they are”. Despite dropping a two-goal lead against Schalke, the improved attacking may have prompted Arsenal's protagonists to take a good look at themselves in the mirror and realise that, on their day, they’re actually pretty hot.
* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband LtdCopyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 12 Nov 2012