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2 January 2012
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: L. Probert
• Attendance: 25700
S. Sidwell 85'
B. Zamora 90'+
L. Koscielny 21'
FULL-TIME! You cannot deny that that had been coming. Arsenal failed to show up in the second half and after Djourou's sending-off they were deservedly overrun. Yet another giant-killing in the Premier League. Fulham were excellent today and move up to 23 points.
90' + 2'
Goal Bobby Zamora
GOAL!!! What a weekend this has been! Kelly's cross is poorly headed by Squillaci and it comes to Zamora. He has work to do with a first-time effort on the right and he makes no mistake in putting it precisely in the bottom corner for his first goal in 12. Wow.
90' + 2'
Dembele gets a rush of blood to the head and wastes advanced possession to blaze it into nowhere.
90' + 1'
Three minutes it is for Arsenal to hang on and Kelly links up with Ruiz on the right. It comes back out from his cross for Riise to tee himself up but it's well wide.
The Gunners go forward for a change and Van Persie does well to hold it up for Rosicky. It comes to Coquelin before the Czech has it back but his effort does not trouble Stockdale. Stoppage-time looms.
Ruiz is very, very wrongly called offside when fed superbly with a defence-splitting pass. Massive let-off for Arsenal.
Assist Philippe Senderos
Goal Steve Sidwell
GOAL!!! Former Arsenal youth player Sidwell capitalises. Szczesny flaps at a corner and is outmuscled. Senderos, another ex-Gunner, heads it back across goal where Sidwell darts in to bundle it home. No more than they deserve.
Fulham stroke it about with all ten red shirts behind the ball. Sidwell's ball nearly finds a free man in the box but it's called offside.
Sebastien Squillaci comes on for a rare appearance to bolster the defence. Ramsey is the man sacrificed as Arsenal hope to hold on.
With all their superiority in this second half and now the Gunners' red card, Martin Jol should be very angry indeed if his side don't find at least a point here.
It's a long walk across the Craven Cottage pitch for the Swiss, and Wenger now must deal with another vacancy at full-back. Kelly's free-kick is an attempted curler over the top of the wall but it's knocked away for a corner, which is rebuffed.
RED CARD! Dempsey slips it through towards Zamora but Djourou pulls him down on the edge of the box and Lee Probert has no hesitation to show him his second yellow. Close to a penalty, but not quite. It looks a good decision.
Yellow/Red Johan Djourou
Ruiz's effort came after quality interplay with Dempsey in the box. The Costa Rican should have buried it, really.
Szczesny makes a great save to deny Ruiz! The forward bursts through into the inside-right channel to hammer a shot at goal. It's straight at the Pole but he still has to react well to block it.
Ruiz is testing Coquelin now in the way he failed to for the first period. Yossi Benayoun being prepped to come on for the Gunners.
Arsenal are finally holding the ball for a lengthier period, putting Gervinho in possession for what seems like the first time in the second half. The Ivorian makes a fine run cutting inside from the right, continuing into the centre before blazing wildly off-balance, his effort closer to the corner flag than the goal.
Confusion as Dempsey and Djourou both try to intercept Ruiz's forward pass. The assistant flags for an Arsenal free-kick for handball and Lee Probert calls it the other way for Fulham, but it is eventually given against the American.
Jol's men are all over the away side at the moment. Arsenal are failing to impose themselves in any way.
How close can Fulham come? The ball breaks for Fulham with Ruiz in the box. The Costa Rican dinks a cross towards the American at the far post and his effort is mere inches past the woodwork.
Walcott makes way for Tomas Rosicky after a pretty quiet evening. Djourou still looks ginger.
So close! Murphy's delivery from set-pieces has been excellent as ever and this time he lifts it deep towards the far post. Senderos gets up for it with Szczesny in no-man's-land but the former Gunner sees his effort drop wide. Fulham knocking on the door.
Yellow Card Johan Djourou
Problems for Arsenal - Djourou is holding his groin after a tough tackle. No sign of him going off yet, but Arsene Wenger hardly needs another full-back injured.
Riise's dogged pursuit sees him steal the ball right on the touchline from Walcott - hints of a foul, though - and the Norwegian supplies Dembele, but his effort is of no threat.
Phew! Sidwell hits it from nearly 30 yards out, receiving it from a deep Murphy free-kick. The shot is straight and powerful but flies just slightly above the bar.
Ruiz gives it away wastefully while attacking on the right but Koscielny knocks it out for a throw-in under little pressure. The Cottagers fail to make anything of it, though, and the half is stalling a little.
Fulham are still building more purposefully in midfield but can find no way through.
Finally an opportunity for the visitors. Coquelin's wayward pass loses it in the Fulham half but Van Persie wins it back and plays in Walcott, who tries running at the defence and shooting, but it comes straight back off a white shirt.
Arsenal have not had a sniff so far after the restart. Will they rue their failure to capitalise on their first-half supremacy?
After coming back on, Coquelin's first action is to dramatically stoop to nod a diving header back to Szczesny to police Zamora's headed flick-on.
Another excellent cross from Riise, the Norwegian looking potent tonight. The first-time ball is met by Sidwell but, with Coquelin in his path, the midfielder catches more of the youngster's head than the ball and it goes over. The Frenchman is attended to after taking a nasty bump.
Riise miscontrols a fabulous through-ball down the left from Dempsey but Fulham return with Dembele getting into the box, but it bounces unkindly off him and into the keeper's arms.
It's the Cottagers who show some Arsenal-esque possession, keeping hold of the ball for the first two minutes after the restart and patiently probing before Ruiz unleashes a left-footed shot at Szczesny under pressure from three red shirts.
Fulham get the second half started.
HALF-TIME, and, though Fulham have had promising moments, it's thanks to David Stockdale and possibly Lee Probert's failure to spot a foul on Gervinho in the area that they are not more than one goal down. Arsene Wenger should be fairly pleased with the state of the game.
45' + 1'
With the last effort of the half, Senderos blasts a header way over from Murphy's corner.
45' + 1'
Ramsey thwacks a powerful effort from the inside-right channel and, despite coming through a pocket of Fulham defenders, Stockdale sees it well to save. One minute added.
Dembele and Ruiz bring it forward and the Costa Rican dinks a lovely ball into Dempsey in the box, the American nearly but not quite controlling it with his chest to elude the defender. It comes to nothing, though.
Fantastic work from Gervinho as he powers his way past several white shirts on the right flank with deft feet as well. His attempted through-pass for Van Persie leads to the Dutchman being judged marginally offside.
John Arne Riise plays in a glorious cross from the left touchline but nobody can quite reach it. Fulham are certainly back in this now.
Van Persie tries to take on the whole Fulham back line in a fairly isolated position in their half and nearly gets away with it before his pass is intecepted.
Apologies for a slight technical error. All sorted now - and there's a strange decision from the officials when Song makes a great tackle on Ruiz in the Arsenal box. Despite his obvious intervention it's a goal-kick.
Snapshot from Van Persie as he connects with a great ball from Coquelin, edging ahead of his marker to poke at it, but it's straight at Stockdale. The young midfielder did excellently coming down the left - you wouldn't know he wasn't a natural full-back.
Fulham wake up and Bryan Ruiz flashes a nasty shot just wide of Szczesny's left post in a quick forward move. Signs of regrouping for the hosts after spending ten minutes asleep.
Walcott bursts down the right flank but his attempt to cut it back into the box is disappointing. Arsenal are exerting plenty of pressure here, though.
Walcott tries a strange shot, firing softly and precisely through a crowd in the box but Stockdale sees it perfectly and picks it up.
Fulham are shellshocked and the Gunners are enjoying comfortable possession at the moment.
So close to a second! Arsenal ping the ball all over the box and it's David Stockdale who keeps them from doubling the advantage. Van Persie, Ramsey and Song are all involved in a breathless scramble but the keeper first denies Ramsey then deflects a close-range shot just onto the post. Manic.
Assist Aaron Ramsey
Goal Laurent Koscielny
GOAL!!! First Mikel Arteta cannons a shot from way out off a Fulham body, but, ball recovered, Aaron Ramsey chips a lovely pass into the box right onto the head of Laurent Koscielny, who nods it in with all the time in the world. No chance for Stockdale.
Szczesny stands firm to pluck the ball out of the air with Zamora putting pressure on him. It's been mostly Fulham for the past few minutes.
Zamora is looking as fit as ever on his return from the treatment table. He shows some strength on the edge of the area and nearly turns the defender but is just thwarted.
The game is fairly breathless at the moment with each side carrying threat up front and neither taking control of the midfield.
Murphy flicks in a free-kick and Brede Hangeland jumps high in the box to meet it but heads over. A chance for Fulham.
Senderos it was who challenged Gervinho and it does seem that he caught the winger after the ball had gone. Fulham career down the left in response but a cross is played just too far ahead of the onrushing Zamora.
Danny Murphy loses the ball in his own half and Van Persie has it! The Dutchman feeds Gervinho again into the box and the Ivorian crumples to the floor but the referee waves play on.
Arsenal try to patiently build an attack but Djourou stumbles on the touchline and allows Fulham to press and win the ball. Sniffing blood, Steve Sidwell gets forward when Mikel Arteta loses the ball and the midfielder breaks into the box to shoot, but it is saved.
Van Persie's corner is deep and drops to Gervinho close in at the far post, but, running into it, the Ivorian angles his volley wide. He could perhaps have shown more composure there.
Walcott tries to sneak a ball in low from the right flank but it's not aimed at anyone other than the white shirts in defence. The Gunners have a corner, though.
The home side compose themselves and start building more slowly in the Gunners' half. Senderos tries launching a ball toward the corner to have Ruiz test fill-in left-back Coquelin, which may be a feature of their strategy today.
Fulham finally get into the Arsenal half with a throw-in, but veteran midfielder Danny Murphy thumps the ball into the stratosphere from a long way out to lose the opportunity.
Typical clever build-up from the Gunners who have started much the stronger. Aaron Ramsey tries a weak shot from the edge of the area after a protracted spell of possession but it's easily dealt with.
Gervinho has the first chance of the game, first battling strongly past Kelly on the left flank before attempting an audacious volley from the corner of the area when the ball came back to him. It goes well over, but a threatening start.
Arsenal kick us off for the first half.
Fulham, meanwhile, suffered a stoppage-time sucker-punch to slip to a 1-1 draw away at Norwich last time out. Bobby Zamora is back after a calf injury for Martin Jol's men.
Chelsea may have recovered to a win today but three points for Wenger's side would put them back into the top four - drawing level with north London rivals Tottenham.
Aside from the imminent arrival of club hero Thierry Henry, you can see why manager Arsene Wenger wants to bring a defender to the Emirates on loan in this transfer window. Young midfielder Francis Coquelin and Johan Djourou are the makeshift full-backs for the visitors today
TEAM NEWS for Arsenal: Szczesny; Coquelin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Djourou; Arteta, Song, Ramsey; Walcott, Van Persie, Gervinho. Subs: Almunia, Rosicky, Squillaci, Arshavin, Chamakh, Benayoun, Miquel.
TEAM NEWS: Fulham line up with: Stockdale; Kelly, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise; Murphy, Sidwell; Ruiz, Dempsey, Dembele; Zamora. Subs: Etheridge, Baird, Orlando Sa, Gecov, Duff, Hughes, Frei.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE! commentary of Fulham - Arsenal in the Premier League. The Gunners haven't lost to the Cottagers in any of their last six meetings, but given the madness of the weekend just gone, I don't think we can take anything for granted.
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