Home and Dry: Fulham 1 – 3 Arsenal – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Fulham 1 – 3 Arsenal

After a positive result away in Turkey in the Champions League, Arsenal were looking to get their first Premier League win under their belts. Fulham however, had purchased well during the transfer window, and were looking to starve The Gunners of points for yet another week. [quote_right]”Despite the ridiculously wet weather, The Gunners were pinging the ball around efficiently, holding on to possession well, and closing down Fulham high up the pitch.”[/quote_right]

The first half held some pleasant surprises for Arsenal fans. Despite the ridiculously wet weather, The Gunners were pinging the ball around efficiently, holding on to possession well, and closing down Fulham high up the pitch.

As play went on, Arsenal only seemed to improve. The midfield was working well going forward, and Olivier Giroud was yet again working intelligently with his movement. It was no surprise then, when he got the opening goal.

In the fourteenth minute, Aaron Ramsey drilled a long shot towards goal, which hit the legs of a running Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman quickly caught up with the ball as it slipped forwards on the wet grass, and managed to delicately poke it past the oncoming Goalkeeper, and into the bottom corner.

It was now three goals in three appearances for Giroud, and his confidence was sky-high. Following his goal, he showed some superb touches around the Fulham box, and worked hard to bring Santi Cazorla and others into the game.

As the game went on, The Cottagers also threatened to grab themselves a goal. Szczesney was forced into a double save, whilst Mertesacker and Sagna were put to work ona number of occasions.

However, despite some shaky defending at times, Arsenal were looking the business. Each attack looked menacing, and Fulham were struggling to cope with the pace and fluidity of the offensive play at times.

In the forty-first minute, Lukas Podolski,who had been typically quiet, added to Arsenal’s lead. Theo Walcott had a good shot saved by Stockwell, but the Goalkeeper could only push the ball out to the edge of his own box, where Podolski was making a late run. The German powerfully side-footed his shot, which whizzed past a line of defenders, and hit the back of the Fulham net.

At the half time whistle, The Gunners were on a high. Although, despite being two goals down, Fulham would have been quietly encouraged by Arsenal’s vulnerability at the back.

Unfortunately, Arsenal’s second half wasn’t as composed as their first.

The Gunners started off brightly again, dominating the midfield, but didn’t look as threatening as they did previously. Fulham were enjoying more of the ball, but thankfully weren’t doing much with it.[quote_left]”[Podolski’s] effort was low, and across goal, eventually ending up in the far corner. It was exactly what Arsenal needed…”[/quote_left]

It took Arsenal until the sixty-eighth minute to grab their third goal. Olivier Giroud controlled a ball dropping from behind him expertly, allowing Arsenal to move forward with pace. He set Cazorla off, who drove into the box, before laying off Lukas Podolski.

The German once again struck from just inside the area. The effort was low, and across goal, eventually ending up in the far corner. It was exactly what Arsenal needed.

The rest of the game, was forgettable. Fulham upped the ante, and took advantage of Arsenal’s tired legs. A little over ten minutes after Podolski’s second, a quick turn and strike from Berbatov in the box forced Szczesney into a save, pushing the ball across goal, and to the feet of Darren Bent, who slotted he ball into an open net. For Arsenal, a clean sheet is always too much to ask.

The remainder of the game was largely uneventful, with Arsenal showing shades of fatigue and laziness at the back, whilst Fulham has pretty much accepted defeat. All in all it was a solid performance from The Gunners, and a very good, well-earned result.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Szczesny: [7.5/10]
The Pole was solid today, making a vital double save in the first half, followed by some very good cross-taking in the second. Can’t really blame him for the goal.

Jenkinson: [7/10]
Carl was everywhere today. He gave Walcott an abundance of help, and provided some genuinely useful crosses on a regular basis. However, he fell asleep for the goal, allowing Bent to beat him to the ball.

Sagna: [7/10]
Filled in at centre-back, and did a fine job of it. Bacary cleaned up very well after the midfield, and made some important tackles. Showed his flexibility and reliability once again today.

Mertesacker: [7.5/10]
I lost count of the defensive headers and clearances he made. Per read the game very well, making sure he was always in the right place and the right time.

Gibbs: [7/10]
Another solid game for Kieran. He wasn’t troubled defensively, and he got forward on many occasions to help out attacks.

Ramsey: [8/10]
Aaron was once again outstanding in the middle of the park. He held on to the ball well, and was involved in Giroud’s opener. Ramsey is really growing into his role, but needs to develop his defensive positioning.

Rosicky: [7.5/10]
Tomas did brilliantly offensively, helping to keep the team ticking and the ball moving. He took up the Arteta role in that sense, and did a good job doing so. However, defensively, Rosicky was rarely involved.

Podolski: [8/10]
Lukas was quiet for most of the first half, before he grabbed his goal. He grew in confidence from there, and got himself more involved in the game. He took both of his goals brilliantly, and tried his best to bring others into the game.

Cazorla: [8/10]
Santi showed his class yet again, as he danced around Fulham’s midfielders, and assisted Podolski for his second goal. The central roaming role is definitely his best position, and I’m sure we’re all hoping to see him there more often.

Walcott: [7/10]
Theo was in and out of the game, letting off some powerful shots at times, but all of them lacked the killer finish that we’ve come to expect from him. He isn’t at top form, but he proved useful at times regardless.

Giroud: [8.5/10]
Olivier did very well to score his opener, but was even more impressive after his goal. He continued to show fantastic first touches, one of which was essential in the build up to Podolski’s second goal. The Frenchman was simply on fire today, and with three goals in three matches, his confidence will be sky rocketing.

Subs:

Wilshere: [7/10]
Jack looked raring to when he came on, and he got himself involved in a number of attacks, whilst still doing a job defensively. Late in the game, he went on a surging run, almost setting up a goal in the process.

Monreal: [6.5/10]
Nacho did well to provide stability, and even got forward a few times, causing Fulham some issues.

Sanogo: [6/10]
Came on late, and hardly got a touch. I’d like to see more of him.

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[title]Home and Dry[/title]

Despite the pouring rain, Arsenal got themselves home and dry with all three points, and three well taken goals.

Olivier Giroud was absolutely fantastic in the final third. Not just because of his goal, but because of his overall link up play and confident first touches. The space he created for players around him was essential.

Of course, Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey were all Man of the Match contenders, as each of them gave something for the cause. Overall, it was a great team performance, with only a clean sheet lacking. Next up, we welcome Fenerbahce to North London, and our confidence is looking pretty good.

What do you think of the Fulham vs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below!

Image: Arsenal

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