That’s what Fulham fans have been telling themselves ahead of an away match up with Arsenal during a lifetime of supporting the Cottagers. Please let that day be this Saturday. Your blogger has been promised a ticket for the Whites local derby with the Gunners at the Emirates. It’s a fixture that right back through the record books shows Fulham simply never win. Incredibly, in over 50 years of trying we have never managed to beat the Arsenal on their own turf.
But this year there’s a real belief we are at last about to dump that awful statistic.
That at least is the mood of Fulham fans, providing we have shaken the Everton performance out of our system. That was a cold shower to our season to date I never saw coming – and no injuries to bleat about either. I had noted Everton’s strong start to the season but thought they were about to tail off. They had started drawing games and should have lost the weekend before to Liverpool – the officials making a bad call to deny Suarez a legitimate late winner.
Home advantage too I felt would tell. All seemed set fair when Howard’s fumble on a Ruiz free-kick put us ahead early in the game. That only seemed to make Everton mad, looking back over the action they seemed to have men everywhere on the pitch. Fulham just could not handle their high energy approach, but we battled on, though being continually pressed back in our own half. Big shout out to Mark for keeping us in the game, one flying save to deny Fellaini a third killer goal was out of this world – and remarkable for a guy still on top of his game at 40 years of age.
We really ruined Moyes day by running in with that late tap in across the line from close range. Bravo to Sidders and the guys for their pressing game in the closing minutes. I think it was Hangeland up in attack who won back possession and fed the ball wide to the wing from where our leveller was crafted via Riether’s terrific cross. A point where I was hoping for three but maybe we didn’t deserve even one. Great team spirit though guys and we live to fight another day.
A win this week would be welcome though in pushing us back into the top six. History and the odds might be against us, but it won’t have escaped your notice that the territory at the top of the PL for this season is changing. Three of last season’s top four remain tough teams to beat. Chelsea and the two Manchester Clubs are front runners again. But Arsenal? Continual weakening of the side is now catching up with them. I do not understand what strategy the millionaires who sit on the board are conducting. I know plenty of gooners through work and the part of London we live in, and they are in deep despair believe me. More than one has come up to me this week and told me Arsenal are there for the taking Saturday if we go for it.
Wish I had a hot line to Martin to let him know. So hopefully our time at the Emirates has finally come. Being located on the east side of London I’ve tubed over to see Fulham there a few times. My but we’ve come close. Never more so than last year. Vermaelen came marauding out from the back to plant a header past Schwartzer eight minutes from time with the Whites clinging on to a 1-0 lead. What was he doing homing in on Walcott’s cross? And nobody tracked his run. Back in 2007 I was there for the season opener. Again we led for a long time – Healy with a gift-wrapped goal on 3 minutes after a Lehmann howler. Van Persie got one on 84 and then a penalty killed us off in the 90th minute. What a cruel day that was after standing strong for so long as the Gunners bombed forward!
Let’s take as an omen then our New Year success over Wenger’s side at the Cottage. 2-1 to the Whites that night, and how we celebrated our own come from behind win – remember Bobby volleying our winner in stoppage time? Fulham daring to consider themselves the equal of Arsenal – who would have thought. That season opener from 2007 led to a very trying time for supporters as Sanchez found the step up to major league too much for him. That Christmas we looked doomed after a 5-1 hammering at Spurs. But Roy was about to work his miracle, and you could say from 2008/9 onwards we have never looked back.
Three points at the home of the Arsenal for the very first time would certainly confirm that here are two London clubs now going in different directions. We’re on the up, Arsenal on the way down. We can dream…COYW!
Finally, as Christmas is just around the corner, a shout out to all Fulham fans in the USA. If you want to access some really neat Fulham FC gift product for your friends, family or yourself, get onto the Ashwater Press guys web site. They have a range of stuff from calendars, diaries and a number of historical hardbacks that make for fascinating reading about this idiosyncratic club we follow. I know, the wife got me 2 for last year. A treasure trove of goodies here http://www.ashwaterpress.co.uk/