Arsenal's top-four aspirations took a further blow today as their marathon run of goalless draws continued. There was nothing negative about Fulham's approach, though, in a lively encounter at the Emirates where both sides had chances to win the game.
Arsenal 0-0 Fulham
Arsenal made two changes to the side that had started against Roma in the Champions League in midweek, with Andrey Arshavin replacing Emmanuel Eboue and Carlos Vela coming in for Nicklas Bendtner. Fulham, without the suspended John Pantsil, had Chris Baird at right-back, and midfielder Danny Murphy returning in place of Olivier Dacourt, with Andrew Johnson in for Erik Nevland.
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson promised that his team would not go to the Emirates to park the proverbial bus, and he was as good as his word - the Cottagers attacked Arsenal from the off, contributing to an open game and giving as good as they got.
They played with two strikers up front in Johnson and Bobby Zamora, stretching the Gunners' rearguard and certainly not looking to strangle the life out of the game as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had sighed in frustration that other visiting teams had done. As for Arsenal, though, their familiar failing of trying to walk the ball into the net was again evident in the first half.
It all made for an entertaining first 45 minutes, with Fulham signalling their intent - to win at Arsenal for the first time ever, and in so doing complete the double over the Gunners - from the opening minute, when Johnson had a sight of goal but dragged his shot well wide.
Samir Nasri had an effort from just inside the area that missed to the left of the goal, before Danny Murphy lifted a ball over the top for Simon Davies, who volleyed well over the bar as Fulham made the early running.
Johnson kept up the pressure with a shot just inches wide, but at the other end Robin van Persie seemed certain to score for Arsenal, waiting unmarked to head Arshavin's right-wing cross, only for Mark Schwarzer to palm the ball to safety. Van Persie then put a close-range effort wide of the left-hand upright.
As the game flowed from one end to the other, Clinton Dempsey had an effort from outside the box which flew wide of the target, before Arshavin let fly with a right-footed shot from close range that also went the wrong side of the post.
A Murphy effort at goal from just outside the area was wide, and Arshavin's through-ball found Van Persie, but Schwarzer saved. Aaron Hughes got a block in to thwart another attempt by Arsenal's Dutchman, who ended the half with a delivery into the box that Brede Hangeland cleared.
At the break Fulham will have been the happier of the two teams, having taken the game to the Gunners and looked the better of the two teams. At half-time they replaced Chris Baird with Fredrik Stoor.
However, Arsenal's game improved in the second half and they were soon exerting sustained pressure on the Cottagers' defence, with Arshavin producing some creative prompting.
Murphy blocked a Denilson shot, Hughes cleared a Nasri corner, and then cleared Clichy's left-wing cross. Van Persie tried to find his range and accuracy with a couple of direct free-kicks, and Hangeland blocked from Nasri, then Van Persie produced a header from inside the area from a Nasri corner but his effort cleared the crossbar.
With the tension rising, especially among the home fans, Arsenal were getting closer and closer, and from a centre by Bacary Sagna, Van Persie, positioned near the penalty spot, headed the ball against the post.
Fulham relieved the pressure by breaking forward to earn a corner, which Davies took but Carlos Vela cleared, then Manuel Almunia saved a Murphy corner flighted to the near post.
Nicklas Bendtner replaced Vela shortly after the hour mark as Wenger sought more fire-power, but there was soon a moment of panic in the Gunners' defence when Johnson's shot flicked off William Gallas and looped over Almunia, only to land on the roof of the net.
Bendtner crossed for Van Persie, who put the ball wide of the target, and the Dutch forrward then turned provider with an inswinging corner that Abou Diaby met well with his head but Schwarzer saved it brilliantly with his legs.
Emmanuel Eboue came on for Bacary Sagna on 70 minutes, before Zamora fired wide when his strength took him into a good shooting position, then Bendtner set up Arshavin at the other end, only for the Russian to create space but put the ball into the side-netting.
Dickson Etuhu and Murphy were excellent in central midfield for Fulham, who certainly deserved something from this match, keeping Arsenal at bay and, in the closing minutes, retaining possession cleverly to take the sting out of Arsenal's attacks and earn a commendable point.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Arshavin, Denilson, Diaby, Nasri, Van Persie, Vela. Subs: Fabianski, Ramsey, Song Billong, Djourou, Bendtner, Eboue, Gibbs.
Fulham: Schwarzer, Baird, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey, Johnson, Zamora. Subs: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Gera, Kamara, Dacourt, Stoor, Kallio.