Santi Strikes Twice: Arsenal 2 – 0 Fulham – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Arsenal 2 – 0 Fulham

Arsenal were looking to yet again maintain their position at the top of the table, as they welcomed Fulham to the Emirates Stadium. The Cottagers were not in great form, so Arsenal had a chance to rack up the goals. [quote_right]”Thankfully the second half  was a little different, thanks to a little Spaniard.”[/quote_right]

The first half was positive in terms of chances, but not in terms of goals.

Ozil had a shot cleared off the line, Giroud went close,whilst Serge Gnabry rifled at least two long shots very wide of the mark.

Despite his optimistic shooting though, Gnabry was very lively. He was cutting in brilliantly from the right, making runs, and made himself comfortable on the ball.

Yet, the goals just weren’t falling for Arsenal. Ozil hadn’t really turned up, and so the entire offensive set up was lacking creativity.

The Cottagers had their moments, poking around Arsenal’s back four, and testing Szczesney with a thunderous strike from Sidwell from long-range. Apart from that, the first half was over with nothing much to write home about.

Thankfully the second half  was a little different, thanks to a little Spaniard.

In the fifty-seventh minute, there was a gigantic scramble in front of the Fulham goal, which led to a Koscielny miss of the season. Yet, the ball soon came out to Wilshere, who played the ball inside the box to a waiting Cazorla, who put the ball in the net which a nice finish.

It only took five minutes for Santi to strike again.[quote_left]”It wasn’t the pace, but the placement which took it safely into the bottom corner. Two great finishes in five minutes [from Cazorla]”[/quote_left]

Cazorla took possession of the ball after a poor clearance, and struck the ball from twenty yards. It wasn’t the pace, but the placement which took it safely into the bottom corner. Two great finishes in five minutes.

The rest of the game was played out with relative ease. Arsenal were relaxed, but professional as they kept hold of the ball.

There was some late danger as Bent’s run beat Mertesacker for pace though.The striker rounded Szczesney, but couldn’t pull the ball back for the finish.

A late free kick from Kasami almost beat the Pole in-goal in the dying moments, but Szczesney gathered up his unsuccessful catch just in time.

In the end, it was Arsenal as the top of the table once again. Long may it continue.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Szczesney: [7/10]
Made a great save to keep Sidwell out from range, and also made two brilliant rush tackles to keep Fulham at bay. But, he might have done better against Bent, and got away with dropping Kasami’s free kick.

Sagna: [6.5/10]
Got forward a lot, gave Gnabry options, and did his defensive duties too. Produced his usual poor crosses though.

Mertesacker: [7/10]
Nothing of major concern, but Per was caught out once or twice by striker making very late runs off his shoulder. Bent managed to escape and nearly score towards the end of the game. Other than that, business as usual for the German tower.

Koscielny: [7/10]
Laurent was solid as usual, keeping tabs on Berbatov all game. His last-ditch tackle on Bent was late, but his presence may have just put the striker off. Missed an absolute sitter leading up to Cazorla’s first goal.

Monreal: [7.5/10]
Overcame an injury and managed to keep Gibbs on the bench. Nacho was comfortable on the ball, got forward often, and defended just as easily. Really growing into the side.

Flamini: [7/10]
Not a particularly challenging game for Flamini, but he did his job nonetheless. He patrolled the middle, kept the ball moving, and made some good tackles.

Wilshere: [7.5/10]
Jack continued his good form with another assist today. He also worked hard throughout the game, trying to create chances for the players around him.

Cazorla: [8/10] – MOTM
Santi struck two well taken goals to grant Arsenal three vital points today. He took both chances well, and looked lively on and off the ball.

Gnabry: [7.5/10]
We plead for Arsenal players to shoot more, and Serge did that today. He had a few shots got wide of the mark in the first half, but managed a very good effort on target afer cutting inside early in the second half. Great to have him in the squad.

Ozil: [6.5/10]
Maybe these English winters are a bit of a shock to Ozil’s system. Mesut was lethargic on and off the ball, misplacing the odd pass, and struggling to create. Not his best day.

Giroud: [6.5/10]
Missed a few more chances today, and didn’t really drop back enough to help out the midfield as he usually does. Not making a great case for himself as Wenger looks to the transfer market to bolster the strike force.

Subs:

Podolski: [7/10]
Came on and immediately made an impact. He injected some energy into the side, and almost got a goal as he powerfully lashed a shot from distance. Stekelenberg unfortunately pushed it on the post.

The Ox: [6.5/10]
Only had a few minutes, where he put a fairly difficult header over the bar. Good to have him back.

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[title]Santi Strikes Twice[/title]

And Arsenal are League leaders – yet again.

The title race is proving to be an extremely difficult one this year, and to be honest with you, Arsenal didn’t really turn up today. Ozil and Giroud both looked like they’d just woken up, whilst our defence was struggling with balls over the top. It was like the “old Arsenal”

But, two very good goals from Santi Cazorla ensured that Arsenal didn’t drop any points. That’s the benefit of having lots of talented players in one side – one of them is bound to turn up.

The FA Cup is next, with Coventry visiting. The Ox, Gnabry, Podolski and others should all get the nod.

Image: Arsenal

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