The Tony Gale Column

Tuesday 6 November 2012 14:00

Fulham shouldn’t fear going to Arsenal this weekend. The Gunners are playing poorly this season. I’m sure there were a few harsh words said after the performance at Manchester United last weekend and they’ve got a game in midweek at Schalke to try and iron out a few problems.

If the left-back Andre Santos is on the teamsheet on Saturday, then I’d get Damien Duff right up against him, twisting his blood and turning him inside and out. Arsenal aren’t in good form and they’re not the team they used to be. Fulham should go there with the feeling that maybe they can win this one.

Fulham were lucky to come away with a point from Saturday’s game with Everton. But David Moyes’ side are one of the best in the Barclays Premier League right now. I think I’ve covered nearly every team in the division already this season and they look like they’ve hit their straps and come out the blocks flying. We caught them at the wrong time but in the end it was a good time. It’s one of those games where we certainly nicked a point.

The week before against Reading, Fulham were excellent. I was commentating on the match and it was a pretty lacklustre first half. But in the second half, they came alive, helped in no small part by the introduction of Bryan Ruiz. He played up top with Dimitar Berbatov and that saw the Bulgarian move further up the pitch. In the first half, he’d been dropping too deep. All the lads tend to give him the ball as he’s the main man but he was getting it in deep positions where he couldn’t do much with it. When he went up top and Ruiz came on to give us a bit more invention, they looked like a partnership that could really flourish. I keep banging on about Berbatov in this column, but they’ve got one of the buys of the season there.

But again, we conceded a last-minute equaliser. Brede Hangeland got pulled away onto the far post instead of defending the middle of the goal which was where the ball dropped and got stabbed home. Brede’s our best header of the ball but he just lost a bit of concentration in getting dragged off to the far post. All your best headers of the ball should stand in the middle of the goal.

Ruiz then started alongside Berbatov against Everton and Martin Jol does have a lot of attacking options. Ruiz and Berbatov aren’t blessed with pace, but both are great at the little five-yard balls in and around the penalty area. It’s something the Manager can change game to game, with Mladen Petrić and Hugo Rodallega also waiting in the wings.

Ashkan Dejagah has come off the substitutes’ bench in the last three games and impressed. He looks lively and we’ve got quite a few wide players pushing for a First Team place right now. Dejagah’s got a bit of work to get past Duffer, though. The old fella is still the best wideman at the Club for me. He twists, turns and gets a cross in. Dejagah’s got a bit to learn but we’ve seen enough in glimpses that he’s got some ability there.

I was pleased to see Matthew Briggs and Kerim Frei go out on loan recently to Bristol City and Cardiff City respectively. Matthew hasn’t played enough football. He’s got a great physique and looks like the perfect footballer but going to a team like Bristol City will do him the world of good. Kerim will go from being a bit-part player at Fulham to potentially being the main man at Cardiff. He’ll get more of the ball than he did at Fulham and that kid has got ability, without a doubt. Hopefully, they’ll return to the Cottage as better players.