Martin Jol was naturally dissatisfied to lose 3-1 to Arsenal in the Club’s first home fixture of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League campaign, but the Fulham boss sought to take as many positives from the performance as he could.
After an even first half, the Gunners sucker-punched their way to a 2-0 half-time lead, before extending that on 68 minutes, meaning Darren Bent’s late goal was little more than a consolation.
“I think the story of the first half is that we had three shots on goal, which is more than our average, so that was good,” Jol said after the game. “There was not the quality in the finishing, in the shots, in the crosses that you want, and then they scored. I think it was a shot on goal [by Aaron Ramsey] so it was a little bit lucky.
“Then we took the initiative and then they scored, but the only thing that I would be a little bit disappointed about is that you can lose your shape if you are after a goal, and that is what happened for the third goal, for example.
“But if you look at the positives; Bent scored, Parker played ever so well – he did exactly what I wanted from him, he was cool on the ball, worked hard, he tried to spread the ball – Adel Taarabt first half I thought was okay, Kasami, a young lad, did well.
“When we stuck to our job we did well, but they scored two goals out of the blue, because I don’t think they had a lot of chances in the first half. You have to take your moments, you have to take your chances, you have to be more greedy, and we lacked a cutting edge up front.”
“We tried, we were positive. There were some positives but it’s very disappointing to lose your first home match.”
Fulham mustered 16 shots during the game, and Jol believes that he has enough firepower in the squad to score plenty of goals this term.
“It’s all about the service,” he said. “Sascha Riether, who had a good game, had six, seven, eight crosses and this was probably the first time that there was a little bit of fine tuning in the box. Berba had that ball near post, had the shot and then Bent scored.
“I think if you were playing with a lower number 10 then there would be no-one there, so that is the advantage you have got when Bent is playing.”
The visitors showed no signs of fatigue during the game, despite their midweek exploits, and Jol admitted that the Gunners proved to be very tricky opposition.
“When you play Arsenal they play with three, four, five midfield players sometimes,” he said. “It’s not easy to play with two strikers who are high up so we had to do a lot to keep our shape, and that was another positive thing.
“We made it 3-1 and then maybe if you score another goal we could have made it difficult for them but I think they are a good team. Cazorla is an amazing player, he pulled the strings, and they found the pockets. Usually we are good at that, we are quite organised, but today, especially on the break, like I said they could find the spaces to hurt us.”
Next up for the Whites is a trip to Burton Albion in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday evening, and Jol explained he may make some alterations to his side for the tie.
“I think there will be a few changes because we’ve got 20 players,” he said. “Today I had to leave Ashkan Dejagah out, and Rodallega was not in the 18 [man squad], so of course we’ve got quality players on the bench.
“So I think we will play other players but won’t exaggerate because we want to go to the next round.”