Fulham 0 – 1 Arsenal
After drawing at home to Everton, Arsenal were desperate to get all three points away at Fulham. The Cottagers – despite being safe from relegation, had run into some bad form, and were looking to get back on track against The Gunners.[quote_right]”Surprisingly, Sidwell’s sending off initially impacted Arsenal more than it did Fulham…”[/quote_right]
The opening minutes of the first half were conservative, as Arsenal began to build up their momentum over time in a familiar fashion. Fulham on the other hand, had other ideas.
In the twelfth minute, Steven Sidwell – an ex-Gunner himself, committed to a double-footed challenge on Arteta just inside the Arsenal half. The referee produced a red card immediately, and the game began
Surprisingly, Sidwell’s sending off initially impacted Arsenal more than it did Fulham. The Cottagers launched a series of intelligent counter attacks which the Arsenal defence struggled to keep out. Szczesney was forced into some saves, and Fulham were winning corners regularly. Arsenal, despite having an extra man, looked nervous.
However, in the forty-third minute, Theo Walcott whipped in a free-kick, which was met my Koscielny at the back post. The Frenchman nodded the ball across goal, where his fellow centre back Mertesacker was running in to head the ball in to an empty net. Fulham’s hard work seemed in vain.
Despite being the better side, Fulham were forced into half time a goal down thanks to Per Mertesacker, allowing Arsenal to re-group.
Due to Arsenal’s poor offensive play, the second half turned out to be a real nail biter. Santi Cazorla & Theo Walcott were both anonymous, whilst Aaron Ramsey’s passing returned to its below-par level.[quote_left]”Extra time was made extra nervy thanks to Fulham’s consistent attacks and Giroud’s Red card, but Arsenal held out valiantly – and luckily.”[/quote_left]
As the game dragged on, Fulham took confidence in the fact that Arsenal simply weren’t creating chances.
The Cottagers continued to mount attacks with balls over the top, and worried the Arsenal defence on a number of occasions, as Berbatov led the line. Fulham also had a goal disallowed for offside following a free-kick which was parried by Szczesney.
In the dying moments, Olivier Giroud made a hard, but legal challenge on a Fulham defender inside the Fulham half. The challenge didn’t look pretty, but replays showed that the Frenchman connected with the ball first in a manner which was harsh, yet fair. The referee disagreed with me, and sent Giroud straight off.
Extra time was made extra nervy thanks to Fulham’s consistent attacks and Giroud’s Red card, but Arsenal held out valiantly – and luckily. It was a well-earned three points against a tough Fulham side.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
MOTM. Our Pole in Goal had an excellent game between the sticks. He won his aerial battles and pulled off a string of good saves throughout the game. He was quick off his line when needed, and kept us in the game on several occasions.
Despite yet more comical crossing, Sagna had a solid game defensively. Made some good tackles in and around the box.
Per popped up with yet another important goal today. Additionally, his defending was solid enough, winning some good tackles and headers throughout the game. Lack of pace exposed once or twice, but always recovered well.
Not one of Laurent’s finer games, as a few passes forward went astray. However he did what he needed to do and made no errors at the back in general.
In lue of his battle with Gibbs for the left back position, Monreal made yet another good impression. Purposeful movement in the final third paired with a solid defensive display. Saved the day in the final moments with a clearance over Szczesney’s bar.
Mikel did well to dish out his reliable passes all game, but looked visibly tired in the second half, which was reflected in some of the poor challenges he made.
After two promising games, Ramsey decided that he’d take his foot of the pedal for a bit. His passing was below-par and he missed a Golden opportunity with the last kick of the ball to extend Arsenal’s lead. Did okay defensively.
Tomas is a player who thrives with regular appearances. Due to injury and competition, his performances have been unpredictable. He did an average job of creating chances today, and looked tired in the second half.
Anonymous on the wing, but showed some good touches when moved into the centre. His continued lack of involvement in pressurised games is really beginning to effect Arsenal’s ability to attack with any purpose. Made an awful pass to Theo Walcott who might have scored, and missed a good opportunity himself in the second half.
Much like Santi, Walcott didn’t do enough to help his team today. but his free kick leading up to the goal was perfectly placed. Needs to get his head up more.
Olivier yet again failed to score, despite quite a few half-chances. You can argue that the delivery has been poor, but he needs to start making the most of what he gets given. Good shot off the post in the first half, should not have been sent off.
Showed some good touched, but his passing was lazy at times. Did well to slip Ramsey in on goal within the dying seconds.
Lukas saw very little of the ball, and didn’t do much defensively.
[title]Two Reds, Three Points[/title]
Arsenal absolutely needed to get all three points today, and were rather lucky to have done so. Fulham bombarded the Arsenal defence, and Arsenal simply had to answer. The goal was well set up, and was fortunately finished my Mertesacker.
Regardless, the three points was al that ever mattered. Arsenal can now breathe a sigh of relief as they watch Tottenham and Chelsea play tomorrow, knowing that they have done their job. Next up, Manchester United. Gulp.
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