Arsenal 3 - 3 Fulham
Arsenal welcomed Fulham to the Emirates Stadium following a shaky display away at Schalke in the Champions League. Arsenal were in desperate need of a solid performance, accompanied by a long overdue three points. But yet again, they failed to deliver.
The game could not have started better for Arsenal. We were keeping the ball well enough, and the nervousness seen in recent weeks seemed to have disappeared. Fulham looked good going forward, but weren’t keeping the ball as well as they would have liked.
In the 11th minute, Theo Walcott whipped in a fantastic corner just past the near post. Giroud lost his marker excellently, and drilled a powerful header towards goal. Schwarzer couldn’t keep it out, and Arsenal were a goal to the good. [quote_right]”Berbatov calmly slotted the ball away with majestic confidence, leaving Mannone feeling more embarrassed than Squallaci in a first team photo shoot.”[/quote_right]
Arsenal continued to play well, and just over ten minutes later, Arteta played a good ball across goal, and Lukas Podolski slammed it home. Two goals up within the first half. Just what Arsenal needed.
However, it took Fulham just seven minutes to find what they needed. The Arsenal defence once again failed to deal with a routine corner, allowing Berbatov to header the ball past Vito Mannone.
Fulham’s goal had given them new life, and the game began to sway in their favour. Ruiz and Berbatov were weaving their way through the Arsenal midfield and defence with ease at times, and Arsenal’s lead, yet again, looked fragile.
In the 40th minute, Berbatov crossed in an excellent ball to Kacaniklic, who was standing a fair distance away from goal. He headed the ball towards goal, and the bounce took it away from the scrambling Mannone, into the bottom corner. A two goal lead had been thrown away. An all too familiar sensation for the Gunners.
The second half commenced, and there was no end to the Arsenal agony in sight. Fulham controlled the opening fifteen minutes and were looking far more dangerous. Arsene Wenger also decided that it was time to throw Aaron Ramsey on in place of Coquelin. Oh joy.
In the 67th minute, Mikel Arteta lost the ball in the penalty area, and brought down Ruiz. Berbatov calmly slotted the ball away with majestic confidence, leaving Mannone feeling more embarrassed than Squallaci in a first team photoshoot.
Luckily, just two minutes later, the superb Olivier Giroud got himself on the end of another Theo Walcott cross and headed home past Schwarzer. The ‘flop’ striker was now on a hat-trick, and deserved one.
As Fulham tried to ease their way to a point, Arsenal were handed a lifeline in extra time.
Arshavin’s crossed ball struck a Fulham defender’s arm, and Phil Dowd pointed to the spot. Finally, Arsenal were going to get the result they so badly needed. Surprisingly, Arteta stepped up instead of Olivier Giroud, who could have claimed his first Arsenal Hat-trick. Arteta had obviously been selected as the designated penalty taker. But an attempt from Giroud to take the spot kick would have been nice.
Arteta, had already given away a penalty, and had been poor all game. He fired towards the bottom corner, but Schwarzer was equal to it and parried wide. The referee blew the final whistle, and Arteta put his hand on his gel smothered head. Yet again, there were no three points for Arsenal. It was all over.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Wasn’t good enough for the second goal, and should have at least dived for the penalty.
Defensively sound, but yet again failed to provide any decent crosses. Didn’t link up with Walcott well enough.
The big German did okay, however his marking for the second goal was woeful.
Made an amazing challenge on Berbatov which undoubtedly saved us a point towards the end of the second half. Did well throughout the game.
Didn’t do too much wrong, but as our Captain, these are the games where leadership is key. Vermaelen has failed to display any form leadership so far this season.
Gave away a poor penalty, had an awful time trying to keep the ball, and failed to win three points with a late spot-kick. The Spaniard is usually a class act, but much like Vermaelen, the leadership just isn’t there.
Francis was given the defensive role today, and didn’t step out of line. He broke up attacks and passed well. A worthy starter ahead of the poor Aaron Ramsey. Subbed.
After two extremely poor performances away at Man Utd and Schalke, Cazorla desperately needed a good game. However, despite coming up against Baird & Sidwell, he failed to create anything at all in the final third. Needs to be rested. Or dropped.
Did very well in the first half, and deserved his goal, however his energy and impact faded in the second half. Subbed.
Once Again Theo proved how much of a key player he is. Two assists for Olivier Giroud, as well as excellent crosses and some explosive shots on goal.
With good performances against Reading & Schalke, Giroud was full of confidence. He scored via two powerful and precise headers. Rapidly cementing his place as Arsenal’s main striker.
It pains me to say it about a player who once showed just as much promise as Jack Wilshere, but Aaron Ramsey simply isn’t good enough. His passing is terrible and he loses the ball far too easily in dangerous areas. Needs to sort himself out.
[title]Paying The Penalty[/title]
Arsene Wenger has a real issue on his hands. His two leaders, Thomas Vermaelen & Mikel Arteta, are not leading. In our toughest games, their heads drop and they fail to produce anything inspirational when the chips are down. We needed a leader to strike that last minute penalty. We didn’t have one.
Additionally, summer signings Santi Cazorla & Lukas Podolski have allowed their form to dip severely. Caorla looks frightened of a challeneger, and Podolski seems disinterested. The team needs a shake up, and dropping some big names may just be enough to kick-start our comeback. Next up, Spurs.
What did you think of the Arsenal Vs Fulham Match? Should Arteta have taken the penalty? Share your views in the comments section below.