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No More Moral Victories: Thoughts on Fulham's 2-0 Loss to Arsenal

There were bright spots for Fulham today, but bright spots don't win points. Unfortunately, Sunderland, Norwich, and Crystal Palace do.

Clive Mason

There's not really much to say about Fulham's performance away at Arsenal today. Individual player critiques would be composed mostly of split hairs. Pajtim Kasami perhaps would have been more industrious than Clint Dempsey playing underneath Dimitar Berbatov, but one can hardly fault Rene Meulensteen from giving the American the berth in the first XI. Ditto Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian slowed down a number of Fulham counterattacks and dropped deep into space more efficiently occupied by Dempsey, but he also relieved pressure on the oft under siege Fulham back line and allowed the Cottagers to enjoy a healthy chunk of possession in the middle and final thirds of the pitch. Darren Bent may well have nicked a goal on a fleet counterattack, but it's also likely Fulham would have been stretched more quickly and more often had he been included from the first whistle. For my money, it's a push.

The performances of Dan Burn and Brede Hangeland have to be where the Fulham faithful draw their succor. The Cottagers' back line looked altogether more composed, competent, and organized than they have at any point thus far this campaign. There was a measure of grit and a willingness to hold the line, so to speak, that has been largely absent in numerous surrenders earlier this season.

I hesitate to write much more - either for or against individual players, tactical decisions, etc - because the depths simply aren't there to plumb. Given the disparity in quality that exists between the two sides, Fulham played very well, perhaps better than they've played all season. However, Fulham lost 2-0. Arsenal, injury depleted though they were, have more depth and quality in all areas of the pitch, and that quality eventually shone through. End of story.

The time for moral victories, encouraging losses, and partial triumphs is well and truly over. Fulham must win points now. Ugly points, pretty points, lucky points, undeserved points...it matters not. Well played today, but not well enough. On to the next one.