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10 November 2012
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: P. Dowd
• Attendance: 60093
O. Giroud 11', 69'
L. Podolski 23'
D. Berbatov 29', 67'
A. Kačaniklić 40'
So, justice was done after Riether's handball was unpunished from the spot by the unfortunate Arteta. A rare off-day from the Spaniard, but 3-3 is probably a fair result. Thanks for joining us, and let's hope the next time these teams play they can match the excitement we've had here today.
Wow. What a game here. Both sides could easily have won the game, but a point is probably fair. Neutrals definitely got their money's worth today, but Martin Jol and Arsene Wenger will be furious at not being able to get three points today.
90' + 5'
Missed Penalty Mikel Amatrian Arteta
90' + 5'
Yellow Card Chris Baird
90' + 5'
Penalty save Mark Schwarzer
90' + 5'
SAVED BY SCHWARZER!!! AND THAT'S IT!!! Deary me, Arteta's day goes from bad to worse as his spot kick is excellently saved by the experienced keeper, and it's justice done for the visitors here. A nightmare for the Spaniard, whose actions at both ends have cost his side a chance of a victory today.
90' + 4'
How can the referee give this decision?! Ruiz gives the ball away and Arshavin tries to cross the ball, which hits Riether's hand in the box from barely a yard away. How could he move out of the way there? Arteta to take it...
90' + 3'
Schwarzer flaps at the corner but no Arsenal player can get on to it. But now it's a penalty to Arsenal!!!
90' + 2'
Cries of encouragement from the home crowd as Mannone slings it up to Giroud - he's been a valuable option in the air for the hosts today, and now Arsenal have yet another corner...
90' + 1'
Four minutes of injury time and Arteta's volley is blocked by any number of Fulham legs as a corner is only half-cleared.
Oh dear Olivier Giroud. The striker is completely free 12 yards out as Sagna floats in a good cross, but he can't find the target with time to pick a spot. In fairness the ball didn't have much pace on it, but he should have tested Schwarzer.
Hangeland almost wins it for Fulham there, rising to meet a header from a corner, but the ball spins a foot or so wide of Mannone's left-hand post. Impressive commitment to winning the game shown by the visitors here - can they nab another?
Berbatov is, yet again, understandably frustrated as Hughes pumps a pass up past the Bulgarian and through to Mannone. The striker has been superb today but has let his team mates know exactly what he thinks of some of their poorer attempts at setting him up.
Moment of madness from Hughes at the back as he doesn't clear and Cazorla steals the ball, but his cross-shot is collected by Schwarzer from a promising position. Wasteful from the Spaniard.
Both sides are looking a little ragged here as we have about 10 minutes remaining with injury times factored in. Arshavin is on for Walcott - can the Russian secure three much-needed points?
Dejagah should let a shot go here but dallies on the ball and wastes the chance. Moments before Berbatov won the ball but hurt Walcott in the process, and the winger may be coming off for Arshavin here.
What a save from Schwarzer! Giroud runs at the Fulham goal and shows good strength to hold off a couple of tackles before unleashing a vicious swerving drive that the keeper does well to tip wide. Close for the hosts.
It really is anybody's game - while not wanting to belittle Fulham here, it's surprising just how evenly matched the two sides are across the pitch. If they fail to win here, expect Gunners fans to be asking some difficult questions of Wenger and the Arsenal board.
Vital block from Koscielny as Berbatov looks to pull the trigger from 12 yards out, but the centre-back desperately lunges in with an excellent block to prevent a fourth goal for the visitors.
Has either side got the nerve to take the lead and hold on to it today? The crowd is really up for this game now, a marked contrast to the fairly groggy first 45 minutes.
Arsenal have been sloppy in possession in this half with Arteta particularly at fault. He gave the ball away to Ruiz and then fouled him for the penalty, but can they get out of jail here?
Assist Theo Walcott
Goal Olivier Giroud
IT'S 3-3!!! How costly could that last Fulham chance be? Giroud powers in another header after Walcott finds the striker with a cross on the edge of the six-yard box. The forward will be more relieved than anyone as he just hit the post when clean through on goal. What a game this is turning out to be!
Fulham should be 4-2 up here as they surge forward on the break, but Kacaniklic blasts at Mannone with Berbatov lurking free on the penalty spot.
Penalty Goal D. Berbatov
3-2 TO FULHAM!!! Berbatov shows effortless cool as he struts up and throws a shimmy before placing it to Mannone's right, with the keeper not even moving. The Bulgarian out-thought the young keeper there, and Arsenal have 25 minutes to save the game.
PENALTY TO FULHAM!!! Ruiz goes down and Fulham could go ahead here...
Ramsey could be off here after dragging down Sidwell cynically as Fulham look to break. That should've been two bookings in eight minutes for the Welshman - will Wenger seek to avoid losing another youngster to a red card and embarrassingly substitute the substitute?
Walcott should do better as he is through on the right, but instead of pulling the ball back he goes for a shot which Hangeland blocks. It would've been better to look for a team mate there but he remains Arsenal's most realistic threat.
Yellow Card Aaron Ramsey
Contentious decision by Phil Dowd here as Sidwell commits a foul on Cazorla and looks set to receive his second booking, but the official hesitates - presumably changing his mind after realising the Englishman is already on a yellow. Ramsey gets a yellow instead for pulling on Ruiz's shorts - Wenger may have something to say about all this afterwards...
Giroud controls the ball and tries to lay it off to Podolski but gets the pass all wrong, and Fulham start again with the ball. It's moments like this that make you realise what Arsenal are missing with Robin van Persie netting for Manchester United these days.
Coquelin has just been replaced by Ramsey, with Wenger presumably hoping the Welshman can retain the ball more effectively than the home side have done so far.
Promising play from Walcott as the winger/striker breaks in powerfully from the right wing and drives a curling effort over the bar from 25 yards.
Now Ruiz pulls a shot wide from outside the area when he really should have done better on his left foot. It does indeed look like we'll be having more chances in this half, which would be good for all concerned.
So close for Giroud! Walcott gets down the right wing and the forward rises to meet his delicious cross, but seems to pull out of the header and the chance goes begging. An odd turn of events, but perhaps it was just too high for the striker.
Giroud is almost in after a long ball is pumped forward as Hangeland seems to lose the flight of the ball in the air, but the big defender recovers to clear before the Frenchman can add his second of the game. That's exactly the sort of thing Jol will have warned his players about during the break.
Fulham have started brightly again - they're actually outplaying the hosts here, which is a credit to Martin Jol and his players. Can they turn their class on the ball into points though?
We're back underway at the Emirates and you wouldn't want to put your money on either team here. Maybe the game will totally reverse and we'll see chances galore with no more goals - but somehow I doubt it.
So, the chorus of boos from the home fans tells us all we need to know about how the Gunners' supporters feel. This has been such an odd game that any scoreline is possible from here - four goals from six shots on target means we could see double figures at this rate.
And that's half time! What an enthralling first 45 minutes. Arsenal raced ahead and looked as though they could plunder a few goals from a terrible Fulham back line, but it was the Cottagers who could have gone into the break 3-2 up after a confident comeback.
45' + 1'
So close to a third for Fulham! Riise flies forward and is found on the left, and he cuts back a ball for Dejagah in the centre. He can't connect properly from eight yards, and Berbatov sprints in at the back post but Mertesacker denies him a chance to score. What a turnaround that would have been!
Two minutes of injury time here. There's been few chances but four goals - I'm not sure either manager will be too happy at half time, but Jol certainly couldn't have envisioned his side getting back into the match so quickly.
It was so simple for Arsenal, but now they'll be struggling to work out just how they can stop a problem like Dimitar Berbatov. I've mentioned his name more than a few times, but he has been unplayable today. They need to get tight on him, otherwise he'll take all three points by himself at this rate.
Yellow Card Steve Sidwell
Things are getting heated here as Sidwell is booked for a foul on Cazorla, but the Englishman feels the Spaniard dived, and is fuming about the decision. Contact seemed minimal, but the Fulham midfielder will have to be careful from now on.
Assist D. Berbatov
Goal Alexander Kacaniklic
FULHAM ARE LEVEL!!! Berbatov works hard to get onto a pass down the right wing, and the Bulgarian picks out a fine cross for Alex Kacaniklic, who heads the ball into the net courtesy of a bounce and the palm of Mannone. Great work from the visitors to get back into this one - it's a real London derby now!
Berbatov is fuming as he gets himself into plenty of space but his team mates can't find him and a good chance goes begging. He demands perfection, the Bulgarian, and sometimes the Cottagers don't quite measure up.
The free kick comes to nothing but Fulham are the team looking most likely to nab the next goal. They've effectively dominated the game so far, but you could also say they're lucky to only be a goal behind with shambolic defending.
Beautiful play from Ruiz once again as he dribbles past two players to set Dejagah away, and the Iranian wins a free kick which Ruiz will swing in...
Walcott is so nearly through here as Sidwell casually volleys a pass back to Schwarzer that is too short, but the keeper is out quickly to clear the loose ball. It's all well and good halving the deficit, but any more slips could be fatal for Fulham today.
Berbatov is certainly taking on responsibility here - he tries a volley from 25 yards but shanks the ball wide. Moments before he was demanding the ball from Riise and even ordering his team mates where to run on the pitch.
Assist Bryan Ruiz
Goal D. Berbatov
FULHAM ARE BACK IN IT!!! A corner is floated in to Arsenal's box and Berbatov is all alone to head in past Mannone from six yards. He's been sharp all game and lost Sagna well to get a bit of space. All too easy, and the game has turned on its head here.
Walcott is finding a lot of space down the right with Cazorla and Arteta linking well in midfield to create chances for the forwards - this could be a long day for Fulham.
Goal Lukas Podolski
IT'S TWO FOR ARSENAL!!! Too easy here as the defence are simply not with it as Podolski pokes in Arteta's cut-back with his left foot from six yards after a mix-up in the Fulham back line. Very poor from the visitors, and if they don't wake up here, the game could be over very soon.
Assist Mikel Amatrian Arteta
It seems Kieran Richardson was listening to me, but he picked up the pace a little too much and has picked up a hamstring injury, and he'll have to go off. Disappointing for the full-back as he would have fancied his chances down the left side today.
Wenger seems happy for his side to soak up some pressure rather than press Fulham for a second goal straight away. The pace of the game could best be described as pedestrian so far - let's hope it picks up a bit.
It's been a curious game so far - Fulham look very comfortable in possession, but are playing the ball around in midfield without really worrying the home side. Letting the other side have the ball and scoring from set-pieces - where have the real Arsenal gone?
So after a relatively easy start for both sides, can Fulham recover from Giroud's header? They're on the ball now and moving menacingly towards Arsenal's goal, with Berbatov at the heart of most of their best work.
Assist Theo Walcott
Goal Olivier Giroud
...AND ARSENAL LEAD!!! Giroud leaps highest here to smash a header past Schwarzer from the corner. All too easy for the big forward there as he meets the ball at the near post, and Martin Jol will be furious at conceding such a soft set-piece goal to the Gunners. That's two headers in two games for the Frenchman, who is starting to find some confidence in front of goal.
Clever ball in behind the defence from Coquelin there to Walcott, who wins a corner with an attempted cross...
Walcott pulls back a dangerous cross on the right which is eventually cut out by a defender - he will be dangerous wherever he is on the pitch in the form he's been in of late.
Arsenal win the ball after poor play from Hangelaand and Baird, but Giroud smashes over from 25 yards while ignoring team mates around him. Really wasteful from the French striker there.
Berbatov really has been sensational so far - every time the ball comes to him, he has trapped it or moved it on without a care in the world. Good to see him on the pitch, rather than on the bench at Manchester United.
Ruiz goes close! The Costa Rican's shot from 20 yards is just deflected wide of Mannone's left-hand post. Berbatov showed some beautiful flicks in the build-up, and it looks like the front two really enjoy playing together.
We're underway here and Fulham are moving the ball about nicely. No chances in the first two minutes but it looks like we can expect good movement from both sides.
The whole stadium observes a minute of silence for Remembrance weekend perfectly - a great credit to both sets of fans. We're just about ready to go here...
So, after their worst ever Premier League start, can Arsenal get a much-needed victory here? They definitely need it, and as the teams shake hands, expect a few nervous Gunners fans early on.
While the visitors are dangerous, is Wenger's decision to start Theo Walcott today the first evidence of a breakthrough in contract negotiations? A strong display today would give the Englishman more bargaining power. and with Fulham shipping 12 goals in five away games so far, he has the perfect chance to show why he should be given his preferred striking role.
So, with Arsenal's defence struggling of late, can they cope with the trickery of front duo Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz today? A good Fulham-supporting friend of mine has predicted a tense 1-1 draw here, and has told us to keep our eyes on Ashkan Dejagah, whose trickery on the wing could trouble the Gunners.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Dejagah, Baird, Sidwell, Richardson; Ruiz, Berbatov. Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Petric, Karagounis, Duff, Rodallega, Kacaniklic.
Here's the team news... Arsenal: Mannone; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Arteta, Coquelin, Cazorla; Walcott, Giroud, Podolski. Subs: Szczesny, Santos, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Chamakh.
Good afternoon and welcome to the Goal.com live commentary of Arsenal - Fulham at the Emirates Stadium. The visitors were slightly fortunate to claim a point at home against Everton last weekend, but Arsene Wenger's side should still be wary of the Cottagers, with both sides on 15 points after 10 games this season.
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