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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
26 November 2011
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: M. Dean
• Attendance: 60043
T. Vermaelen 82'
T. Vermaelen 66' (own goal)
90' + 4'
And it ends 1-1 between Arsenal and Fulham! The Cottagers took the lead away from home after John Arne Riise's adventurous run forced Thomas Vermaelen into an error that led to him putting the ball into his own net. However, the Belgian centre-back made amends for his own goal by powering an equaliser in from Theo Walcott's cross with just under 10 minutes remaining. Despite pressing hard late on, Arsene Wenger's side could not claim all three points at the Emirates Stadium and Martin Jol will be delighted to leave the ground with a point in hand in the London derby. Thanks for reading Goal.com's live commentary of this Premier League clash!
90' + 2'
Two minutes remain now, and Fulham clinging to their well-earned point. The Cottagers may have lost the lead but their fans and their manager will no doubt feel a draw away to the Champions League-contenders is an excellent result.
Four minutes of added time at the Emirates. Johnson wins Fulham a free-kick at the other end of the pitch after a neat bit of skill from Dembele sets the former England international off down the left flank.
Shouts of handball from the Arsenal faithful but replays show it was ball-to-hand in the box from Clint Dempsey, who trhow his body in front of a shot.
Just like Manchester United were doing earlier today against Newcastle United, Arsenal are really peppering the visitor's goalmouth in search of a late winner. In that match at Old Trafford, the Red Devils had to settle for a draw - can the Gunners fare any better?
Van persie given a golden opportunity to give Arsenal the lead, but he rushes his attempt one-on-one with the Fulham goalkeeper and shoots into the right-hand side netting. Moments earlier, Walcott had tested Schwarzer as the Cottagers cling to a draw.
Gervinho is troubling the right side of Fulham's formation, dribbling the ball around Baird and Dempsey and wreaking havoc on the edge of the box. He remains profligate in front of goal but his threat is evident.
Assist Theo Walcott
Goal Thomas Vermaelen
1-1!!! And Vermaelen gets his name on the scoresheet for the right reasons! A long period of Arsenal pressure eventually ends with Walcott whipping another excellent cross in from the tight. The ball evades Chamakh's head but Vermaelen makes no mistake in powering the ball past Schwarzer to draw the game level with eight minutes remaining.
10 minutes now for the Cottagers to hold on. They have never beaten Arsenal in 25 attempts; has Martin Jol orchestrated their first voctory against their fellow London opponents?
Andrew Johnson replaces Bobby Zamora, who has had a solid game at the Emirates. A little over 10 minutes left as Arsenal break away from their own box with pace.
Philippe Senderos is yellow carded for his reckless challenge 30 yards out from his own goal. Van Persie takes the free-kick but it is anti-climatic as the 28-year-old whips it wide of the Fulham right-hand post.
Yellow Card Philippe Senderos
Marouane Chamakh comes on for Andre Arshavin in manager Arsene Wenger's last throw of the dice. For the visitors, Pajtim Kasami replaces Bryan Ruiz.
Schwarzer somehow keeps the ball out of the Fulham net with a super save from a Yohan Djourou's headed attempt from a corner. Arsenal are really pressing the Fulham players deep now.
The crowd are becoming audibly restless. The Gunners will need to get some momentum built if they are to win them back over.
Gervinho and Abou Diaby are on in place of Aaron Ramsey and Per Mertesacker respectively. The Ivory Coast winger in particular will be seen by Arsenal fans as a possible game changer with just 20 minutes remaining.
Replays show Vermaelen slid in and put the ball past his own keeper with his outstretched left foot. Gunners boss Wenger will want an immediate reaction from the home side.
Assist J. Riise
Own Goal Thomas Vermaelen
Own goal! And it is Arsenal 0-1 Fulham! Riise makes a superb run into the box which is seen by Murphy, who dinks the ball over the Arsenal defence to the Norwegian. The former Liverpool full-back controls the ball well in a tight space but it is Thomas Vermaelen who accidentally guides the ball into his own net at the Emirates Stadium!
Szczesny holds a shot from Moussa Dembele that is hit straight at the Polish keeper's chest after a brief spell of Fulham possession. Less than half an hour to go then, can either side get a winner?
A minute later and Robin van Persie goes down after trying to wiggle his way through a couple of Fulham bodies in the box but the referee dismisses the crowd's desperate pleas for a penalty.
Van Persie showing his world class qualities. Arshavin slips the ball inside from the left to Arteta who passes it onto the Dutch forward. He dummies Riise successfully on his right foot, cuts back inside, before blasting towards the bottom corner. Chris Baird, the versatile defender being utilised at right-back this evening, is in the right place at the right time as the ball ricochets off his lower body and away from goal.
To Fulham's credit, they are committing players forward now, but this is leaving a large gap in the heart of the pitch meaning Arsenal can counter attack with ease. Wenger's side just about have the edge over the visitors but the tie could still go either way.
Dempsey breaks through the Arsenal ranks but cannot get a touch on the whipped cross from the left and the ball flits dangerously across the home side's goal.
Bryan Ruiz has had little influence here at the Emirates, especially in his defensive duties, and the Costa Rican international loses the ball as he breaks away from the Arsenal corner. The Gunners are continuing to push bodies forwards as they search for a goal.
Just like for long stints of the first half, Fulham are comfortable leaving Arsenal in possession as they focus on marshalling their back-line. Santos shoots from just under 30 yards out ambitiously and wins a corner for the attacking home side.
Andre Santos and Arshavin are working well together on the left flank but there is still no end product from the pair for the Gunners players waiting tentatively in the Fulham penalty area. Ramsey whips a cross from the left in too deep for the on-running Walcott and it is a Fulham goal kick.
Dembele wins Fulham a free-kick just inside their own half from a late Arteta challenge. The atmosphere is a little tense now at the Arsenal ground - Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is lookiing visibly frustrated on the sidelines.
It is worth congratulating the Cottagers defence for silencing Robin van Persie in the first half. The striker has been in fine form lately but his threat has yet to put the visitors to the sword. Hopefully (for Fulham fans reading this) I have not just jinxed the away team!
The game is back under way here in north London. An absolute belter of a statistic for you Goal.com readers: This is the first time since September 2005 that Arsenal have fielded a starting line-up in the Premier League without a Frenchman in the side.
The teams are back out on the pitch and kick-off is imminent. A reminder that if the score stays this way Arsenal will shift up to sixth in the Premier League, above Liverpool who host Manchester City tomorrow. Fulham, at the opposite end of the table, will also move up a place over Sunderland into 15th – the Black Cats lost in stoppage-time to Wigan Athletic earlier today.
45' + 2'
And that is half-time. It is still 0-0 between the two London sides at the Emirates Stadium, with neither side fashioning a solid hold on the game. Arsenal manager Wenger will need to rally his troops to get them to penetrate the solid Fulham defence, which has performed admirably away from home in the first 45 minutes.
45' + 1'
Dickson Etuhu puts a good slide in on Arteta but the referee calls him back and gives a foul, giving the midfielder a yellow card too. The free-kick is whipped dangerously into the box in the final minute of stoppage time but Mertesacker's header skids wide of Schwarzer's left post.
Yellow Card Dickson Etuhu
Zamora lays the ball off the Clint Dempsey as the away side counter attack, who puts Dembele through, whose left-footed strike brings a competent save from Wojcieich Szczesny, who leaps to his right to tip the shot wide.
The free-kick was inventive from the visitors, Murphy sending the ball along the floor to the right of the rsenal wall but Ruiz is unable to capitalise. Arsenal break away with Ramsey and the midfield tussle begins again.
Dembele goes down from a Song tackle and Fulham are given a free-kick around 35-yards from the opposition goalmouth. Can the Cottagers make something of this chance?
Zamora does brilliant to bring a hoofed ball down to his feet and control it, but his one-two with Ruiz sends him into an offside position and play is called back for an Arsenal free-kick.
The game is becoming surprisingly end to end. Brede Hangeland fails to direct his header from the corner into the Gunners net, then a minute later Walcott drifts into the right side of the box, chips an accurate ball to Van Persie's head at the back post who redirects the ball to Arshavin, but the it lands marginally behind the winger who tries to shoot backwards but fails to hit the target.
Against the run of play Ruiz passes the ball to Dembele's feet on the edge of the box whose shot is deflected wide off an Arsenal centre-back. Corner to Fulham.
Van Persie shoots from the left hand edge of the box but the Netherlands international is leaning and his shot lacks power and Schwarzer drops with ease to the ground to collect the ball. Walcott earns the Gunners a corner which Van Persie but the cross is headed clear.
A powerful shot on goal from Riise is blocked by Vermalen but the Belgian is left grimacing with pain in his knee. He will be hoping he can jog it off, as will manager Arsene Wenger.
Yellow Card Bobby Zamora
Yellow Card Andre Santos
Santos is given the first yellow card of the game for a slightly cynical challenge on Riise who is released on the break after an Arsenal corner is cleared. Zamora's complaints to referee Mike Dean earn him a booking immediately after.
A minute later, the England winger has a pop at Schwarzer from an angle, but the keeper deflects it well to prevent any lead being taken by the Gunners.
Theo Walcott collects the ball on the right hand side near the half way line and sprints towards th back four, dinking past John Arne Riise, who is outsprinted by the former Southampton man. He arrives in the box, slides the ball to his left to Ramsey, but the 20-year-old shoots over.
A bit of scrappiness sneaking into the match for the first time. Cottagers captain Danny Murphy brings down Dutchman Van Persie and now Arsenal will look to get a solid grip on the game.
Aaaron Ramsey, the Wales captain, is released into space in the middle of the park by right-back Johan Djourou; he in turns slots it to Arshavin but his attempted cross is foiled by the body of the versatile Baird.
Ramsey has a wild long shot with his right foot from 30 yards out but i goes high and wide, not troubling the Australian shot stopper.
Martin Jol's side look content to let the home side keep possession. Mikel Arteta, Ramsey and Alex Song are passing it around in midfield, looking for holes in a resilient Fulham back-line.
Bobby Zamora - now an England regular - presses Gunners centre-back Per Mertesacker as the ball bobbles out of play for an Arsenal throw-in on the right hand flank deep in the home side's half. The game is still teetering in the balance.
Neither side can yet claim to be running the game. Ruiz - who signed from FC Twente for the Craven Cottage club on deadline day in August - is looking particularly lively but he has shown so far this season that his perfomances are hit-or-miss.
Arsenal at the other end fashion an opportunity when Van Persie gifts Aaron Ramsey into the box from the left but his off-balance shot is tipped wide by Mark Schwarzer.
Now it is the visitors who are pressing. Bryan Ruiz turns left-back Andre Santos elegantly but his ball into the box to Dembele is blocked before returning to the Fulham midfield.
The ball is in the back of the net but Arshavin just jumpred the gun there, Fulham's offside trap preventing the Russian's calmly slotted finish from sending them ahead early on. Excellent through ball from Van Persie but it remains 0-0.
Andre Arshavin with an early dribble, running at Fulham right-back Chris Baird but his grounded pass square into the box is intercepted en route to Van Persie and easily cleared.
Fulham finally have a period of possession. Ruiz gives the ball to Zamora who, with his back facing initially away from goal, turns Thomas Vermaelen before narrowly shooting over the bar. He is appealing to the referee for a corner but nothing is given. The replays indicate that the ref made the correct choice.
Moments away from kick-off. Interesting starters at the Emirates include Andre Arshavin, who is in the Arsenal team in place of Gervinho. For the visitors, Moussa Dembele is preferred up front to Andrew Johnson, who has to settle for a spot on the bench.
In this London derby which continental manager will come out on top? Martin Jol, who replaced Mark Hughes as Fulham manager over the summer, managed Arsenal's bitter rivals Tottenham not so long ago and he will know what sort of atmosphere the stadium can generate. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger finally has the pressure off his back, with the fans enjoying the side's excellent form, and will be hoping to see it continue this weekend.
It would be an understatement to describe Arsenal's Robin van Persie as an in-form striker. The 28-year-old has 13 goals in the league already this campaign and the Fulham defenders will be wary of the threat he possesses.
The Gunners, on the other hand, will have a host of reasons to face the tie with a bucket load of optimism. After a woeful start to the season - which saw them humiliated at Old Trafford when they lost 8-2 against Manchester United - they have turned their season around by becoming the first English side to qualify for the last-16 of the Champions League.
Sceptical that the Cottagers are poor at stadiums other than their own? Well, they have won just 12 of their last 101 away matches in the top flight. Without meaning to pile on the potential misery, they have also never won at the Emirates.
Fulham are notoriously poor away from home in the league and they are likely to have their work cut out against an Arsenal team that is targeting a sixth straight league victory.
Fulham Line-Up: Schwarzer, Baird, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Ruiz, Dembele, Zamora. Subs: Etheridge, Johnson, Kasami, Gecov, Hughes, Frei, Briggs.
Arsenal Line-Up: Szczesny, Djourou, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos, Song, Ramsey, Arteta, Walcott, van Persie, Arshavin. Subs: Fabianski, Diaby, Koscielny, Frimpong, Gervinho, Chamakh, Benayoun.
Hello and welcome one and all to Goal.com’s live commentary of Arsenal v Fulham this evening. We’ll be bringing you every detail of what happens in this Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium, which kicks off in 15 minutes.
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