Goals galore as Gunners face Whites
Written By: Robert Halter
In-form Fulham were unbeaten in four matches prior to their visit to the Emirates stadium in November as Arsenal looked to improve on last week-end’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester United but after a 2-2 midweek draw in Schalke 04, confidence had been restored in the UEFA Champions League but it was now a question of the Gunners trying to keep pace with the Premier League front runners. The match ball was delivered by a member of the armed forces, a day before Remembrance Sunday as Arsenal displayed a poppy on their club shirts. It took eleven minutes for the Gunners to register the first goal from a Theo Walcott corner, as Mark Schwarzer could only get a hand to Olivier Giroud’s fierce header as the ball plummeted into the right side of the net. Arsenal increased their advantage midway through the first half as Mikel Arteta picked up a deflected ball off John Arne Riise and from a perfectly measured cross, Lukas Podolski despatched his shot into the heart of the goal. The Gunners scored at a bad time for the Whites as they had temporarily been reduced to ten men in Kieran Richardson’s absence for injury as Alex Kacaniklic came on to the field after Arsenal had doubled their lead. Although the Cottagers found a route back into the match from a Bryan Ruiz corner as an unmarked Dimitar Berbatov produced a cushioned header that Vito Mannone was helpless to prevent hitting the target in the twenty ninth minute. Remarkably, five minutes from the break, Fulham made it two goals apiece as Sascha Reither went down the right flank and set up Berbatov, whose pinpoint cross was met by a strong header from Kacaniklic which left Mannone falling into the net as the ball crept into the left hand corner. Just before the half time whistle, Fulham threatened again when Riise charged down the left and Ashkan Dejagh was unable to get the vital touch as Per Mertesacker’s outstretched foot stopped Berbatov pouncing at the far side. The unthinkable happened during the halfway stage of the second half as Arteta pushed Ruiz in the area and Fulham were awarded a penalty by referee Phil Dowd, up stepped Berbatov to nonchalantly tuck his spot kick away to put the Cottagers 3-2 up. But just after Kacaniklic had his shot saved by Mannone, Arsenal found the resolve to fight back in the sixty ninth minute when through Santi Cazorla’s assist, Giroud’s low strike cannoned off the right post and from the rebound Walcott supplied the cross that Giroud reacted to as his header flew into the roof of the net. As the match see sawed end to end, Ruiz had a shot saved by Mannone as the Whites pressed once again. Ten minutes from normal time, as Giroud strolled past Steve Sidwell, Giroud was denied a hat trick from a full length save by Schwarzer, who kept out his low drive. In a final twist, Arsenal got a penalty deep into stoppage time as Reither was adjudged to have handled the ball from Andrey Arshavin’s strike but Arteta wasted the chance from the spot kick as a fantastic save from Schwarzer rescued a point for the Cottagers at the end of the game to round off an epic 3-3 encounter.