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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
24 August 2013
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 25622
D. Bent 77'
O. Giroud 14'
L. Podolski 41', 68'
Thank you for joining me today. I hope you've enjoyed the action. I'm now heading over to cover Southamton-Sunderland, so feel free to join me. Farewell!
90' + 5'
FULL-TIME! Referee Webb blows his whistle and puts Fulham out of their misery. Arsenal never looked like losing this one and they generally dominated throughout. Gunners fans will be delighted, but there is much work ahead for Fulham.
90' + 4'
Berbatov advances towards goal and decides to shoot from range as no one closes him down, but the shot is poor and it goes well wide. That will probably be the last chance of the match.
90' + 1'
Nearly a fourth for Arsenal as Cazorla bursts through the middle and slips Walcott in to his right, but he shoots straight at Stockdale.
Four minutes of stoppage time is added.
Gibbs gives away a free kick on the left and Karagounis fires it into the box. Berbatov meets it and the front post, but he can't divert the ball towards the goal.
Not long left for Fulham to salvage something. They are now probing down the right, but Karagounis' cross is easily headed away.
Wilshere does well to feed Walcott into the danger area, but Hangeland chases him down and blocks the England international's cross.
Arsenal's only signing of the summer comes on to replace Podolski after a great performance. What impact can Sanogo have?
Yellow Card Jack Wilshere
Pretty mindless play from Wilshere as he gives away a blatant free kick inside the Arsenal half, but thankfully for him Fulham cannot make the most of the opportunity.
Riether gives away a free kick on the right near the Fulham corner flag. Cazorla whips the delivery in and Stockdale punches clear. Podolski hammers a shot back into the area, but his effort is blocked. Mertesacker then has a chance, but Hughes gets in the way and the shot is easy to get a hold of for the goalkeeper.
Yellow Card Pajtim Kasami
Goal Darren Bent
GOAL!!! It may only be a consolation, but Fulham pull one back! Riether chipped a clever pass into the right side of the area for Berbatov, whose control is excellent before stroking the ball across the goal mouth for Bent to tap in for a debut goal.
Karagounis comes on for Fulham, replacing the ineffectual Sidwell.
Yellow Card Scott Parker
Parker finds himself in the referee's book after a needless foul on Cazorla.
Another change for Arsenal now as Giroud, who appears to be in a bit of pain, is taken off for Monreal.
The win is virtually complete with that third goal, which perhaps makes Wenger's decision to bring Wilshere on a little strange. If he gets injured the manager may feel a little silly.
Assist Santi Cazorla
Goal Lukas Podolski
GOAL!!! Arsenal get a third and all but secure the three points! The move started in the centre as Giroud brought down a lofted ball with an exquisite touch. The attack progressed and Cazorla played the ball back to the edge of the area when on the left and Podolski rifled a low shot into the bottom far corner. Excellent finish.
Parker does well to play Riether in down the right flank. The German cuts the ball back to the edge of the area for Kasami, but just when he is shaping to shoot, Berbatov gets in the way and completely distracts the youngster. The final shot ends up going well wide.
Gibbs and Cazorla try to combine just outside Fulham's area, but after good play initially, the Spaniard tries one too many return passes and Parker gets a foot in.
In the meantime, arguably Fulham's most dangerous player today, Taarabt, is taken off and replaced by Kacaniklic.
After a good period of pressure, Arsenal are now sitting back. Fulham attack down the right, but they can only get a throw-in.
Darren Bent replaces Duff. He has scored against Arsenal for four different clubs in his career. Is this troublesome news for the Gunners?
Fulham are finding most of their players kept inside their own area at the moment and Ramsey tries to pick out the run of Walcott by scooping the ball over his opponents, but his effort is fairly poor and Fulham clear easily.
Another corner for Arsenal and another opportunity goes begging as little comes of the delivery.
Promising attack again for Arsenal. Gibbs crosses from the left and Walcott meets it with his head, but he can only knock it back to Ramsey. The Wales international hits the ball goalwards, but it is deflected behind.
Cazorla delivers and the ball lands at the feet of Podolski on the far post. His control is heavy and Hangeland just blocks his passage and gets a goal kick.
Walcott has been fairly quiet today, but he does get into the area again only for his shot to be blocked behind for a corner.
Fulham have enjoyed a good start to this second half and Arsenal appear to be trying to get a foothold again in an attempt to stifle their hosts.
Taarabt steps up and takes the free kick, but he puts way too much on it and sticks it straight out for a goal kick, much to the annoyance of Hangeland.
Excellent play from Taarabt as he lures in two defenders just inside the Arsenal half and then squeezes between them. He is brought down and Fulham do not make the most of the advantage, therefore they get a free kick.
The corner goes too deep, but Fulham do keep the ball. It gets whipped back into the area and almost catches Szczesny off guard, but thankfully for him it goes out for a goal kick.
Kasami steals the ball off Cazorla just inside the Fulham half. He surges towards the Arsenal box and brings others into play. Berbatov slows the play down, but the ball ends up with Taarabt via Riether. He shoots right-footed, but Szczesny tips it round the post for a corner.
And the action is back underway for the second half.
So folks, are you happy with that first half? Arsenal fans; was that a pleasant surprise, or was that exactly what you were expecting? Fulham fans; can your side salvage anything from this? Tweet me @RyanRyanBenson.
45' + 1'
HALF-TIME! Referee Howard Webb blows his whistle for half-time and Arsenal take a deserved 2-0 lead into the break. Fulham began the match well, but the visitors have generally controlled proceedings ever since.
Another wonderful chance for Arsenal as Walcott cuts across the Fulham defence. He plays Podolski into the left side of the area, but the German plays a tame effort across the goal. It was not clear whether that was a cross or shot. Regardless, Fulham have a goal kick.
What a blow for Fulham. They had really improved in the last ten minutes, but Arsenal have capitalised just before half-time. Big kick in the teeth.
Goal Lukas Podolski
GOAL!!! Arsenal double their lead! Walcott gets into the area and shoots, but Stockdale's save drops to the edge of the area and Podolski buries the loose ball into the top of the goal.
Arsenal are straight back on to the attack and after good work from Walcott who runs across the Fulham area, Gibbs puts a low effort just wide of the bottom far corner.
Taarabt on the attack again, but when he cuts the ball back from the byline Riise gets in the way.
The hosts are still on the attack here. Taarabt gets the ball again and produces some tricks. He picks out Parker on the edge of the area who comes across and plays Riise into the box. He drills a low cross into the danger area, but Sagna gets it out.
Fulham are looking much better at the moment. Taarabt does well down the left as he produces multiple stepovers before playing the ball back to Riise whose cross is headed away.
That could be a painful one for Riise as he slides to keep the ball in play in Arsenal's area, but the surface water sees him overshoot the byline and clatter into a photographer.
Good work from Podolski as he attacks Riether and plays a low cross in the area, but Hughes manages to sweep up before the ball can fall to the lurking Giroud.
Martin Jol will be pleased as his side look to have woken up again. Taarabt and Berbatov link up again on the edge of the area and the Bulgarian lays the ball off to Parker who curls a shot over the bar.
Fulham almost create a good opening again as Kasami flicks the ball on to Berbatov, but the ball is just slightly too far ahead of the Bulgarian who cannot control on the stretch.
Kasami and Riise stand over the ball. The Swiss attacking midfielder curls a shot towards the goal and a deflection takes the sting out of it, giving Szczesny a good chance to collect.
However, a good combination of passing down the right eventually gives Taarabt the chance to run at the Arsenal defence. He holds off Cazorla, but the Spaniard gives away a free kick on the edge of the area. Very good opportunity for the hosts.
Fulham will be disappointed they have not been able to make more of their good start. Since the first 10 minutes they have struggled to make much of an impact, certainly as an attacking force.
Cazorla is involved again in the final third as he slips Walcott into the area, but the forward's shot is blocked and they must settle for a corner.
Yellow Card Aaron Ramsey
Good decision by referee Howard Webb as he books Ramsey for a late tackle after playing advantage for Fulham.
Cazorla is the latest Arsenal man to try his luck. The Spaniard hits his shot low from the edge of the area and Stockdale collects it at the second time of asking. The surface water is undoutedly making it difficult for the goalkeepers.
Playing conditions look to be getting increasingly treacherous as the rain falls heavily in London.
Almost an instant reply from Fulham! Taarabt did well to get a shot away from the left which Szczesny saved. However, Duff was there to meet the rebound, but his effort is blocked just in front of the goalkeeper.
Assist Aaron Ramsey
Goal Olivier Giroud
GOAL!! Arsenal take the lead at Craven Cottage! Aaron Ramsey shot from outside the area, but Giroud managed to get it under control in the area before poking the ball past Stockdale.
Arsenal have certainly grown into this a little more as Cazorla comes in from the left, sells Riether a dummy before shooting right-footed, but it is deflected behind for a corner.
Good corner from Cazorla and Giroud gets his head on it, but it is cleared by Hughes just in front of Stockdale.
Lovely pass from Rosicky as he guides the ball over the Fulham defence and Walcott pounces, getting into the area and shooting, but Stockdale saves it. Corner.
Fulham continue to enjoy a good start as they knock the ball around with aplomb in midfield, while Berbatov looks dangerous dropping deep.
Riise stands over the free kick and drills it towards the goal, but it goes comfortably wide of Szczesny's left-hand post.
The corner is whipped in but Fulham clear and spring a counterattack. Berbatov slows play down on the halfway line and spreads the ball to Taarabt on the left. Jenkinson looks as though he'll get there first, but he fouls the Moroccan.
Arsenal have the first shot of the match as Podolski finds space in a central position and then shoots from 25 yards, but the effort is deflected behind.
Very confident start from Fulham. In the opening three minutes they have showcased some lovely flowing football. They're yet to get Berbatov into the attacking third, but encouraging nonetheless.
And Fulham get the action started at Craven Cottage.
It sounds like Dimitar Berbatov is in a heap on the floor during the Fulham warm-up. He seems to have been struck in the crown jewels by a rogue football. Ouch!
Not long until kick-off now. How do we think this will pan out? Will Fulham stun Arsenal, or will Wenger's side silence their critics and pick up their first three points of the season? Tweet me your thoughts on Twitter @RyanRyanBenson.
Arsene Wenger has made the decision to rest Jack Wilshere, who starts on the bench. Lukas Podolski comes into the side in his place and moves into the attack with Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott. Sixteen-year-old midfielder Gedion Zelalem takes a place on the bench at the end of a week in which he collected his GCSE results.
Scott Parker makes his debut for the hosts as he slots into the midfield alongside Sidwell, while they also name a strong bench as Darren Bent is joined by Bryan Ruiz, Alex Kacaniklic and Derek Boateng.
And the Arsenal team: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Sagna, Gibbs; Ramsey, Rosicky, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski; Giroud. Subs: Fabianski, Monreal, Frimpong, Zelalem, Wilshere, Gnabry, Sanogo
The Fulham team for today is: Stockdale; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Parker, Sidwell, Taarabt; Kasami, Berbatov. Subs: Etheridge, Briggs, Boateng, Karagounis, Kacaniklic, Ruiz, Bent
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's live text commentary of Fulham-Arsenal in the Premier League. My name is Ryan Benson and I will be describing the action to you today.
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