Cottagers surrender at the Emirates
Written By: Robert Halter
Fulham had never won away at Arsenal in any competition, having already lost twenty two out of twenty seven visits to the Gunners and were already on the back foot in the fourth minute, when the Whites captain, Brede Hangeland, made a sliding goal line clearance to prevent Mesut Ozil’s low drive creeping in, after he had been played through by Jack Wilshere for an early Arsenal opportunity. In the twenty sixth minute, after Dimitar Berbatov’s cross was headed out from Bacary Sagna, a thunderbolt by the Cottagers Steve Sidwell, was acrobatically tipped over from Wojciech Szczesny. On thirty two minutes, brave keeping by Szczesny kept out Ashkan Dejagah’s effort, who had been played through by Sascha Riether as Fulham found space to manoeuvre. After Scott Parker had clipped Santi Cazorla, the free kick from Cazorla cannoned off the Fulham wall and broke to Sagna, whose low strike was expertly kept out by Maarten Stekelenburg but as the ball fell out to Olivier Giroud, he was flagged in an offside position, as he was unable to convert the rebound, with seven minutes of normal time remaining in the first half. But Fulham responded on forty two minutes as Berbatov gave Alexander Kacaniklic a route through on goal but Szczesny was quick to react. Silky skills by Serge Gnabry was met with a curling effort that Stekelenburg palmed away at full stetch in the fifty fourth minute to keep the Gunners at bay. After Berbatov had fouled Wilshere, a quickly taken free kick by Cazorla found Sagna in space but his shot was hooked off the line by Dan Burn but the Gunners kept pressing and took the lead in the fifty eighth minute as Wilshere picked up a pass from Giroud and with a measured finish, Cazorla sent his effort sailing into the right side of the net. Four minutes later, Cazorla added to his tally with a low drive past Stekelenburg, after a half cleared header by Hangeland was put back in from a Nacho Monreal left wing cross. In the first Fulham change, Darren Bent took over from Dejagah, before the Gunners switched Gnabry for Lukas Podolski, who made his presence known with a swerving strike that crashed against the right post, after he had been set up by fellow German countryman, Mesut Ozil. Further changes saw Ozil replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain while Arsenal’s opponents took off Kacankilic for Pajtim Kasami. At the end, a floated ball over the top by Sidwell was miss controlled by Szczesny, but Bent was unable to control the rebound and was injured in the process. In added time, Oxlade-Chamberlain was unable to keep his header down from Cazorla’s floated cross and in the final piece of play Oxlade-Chamberlain brought down Berbatov but from Kasami’s free kick, Szczesny used his finger tips to stop the ball trickling over the line. But it was Arsenal that continued in their quest for the Premier League title while Fulham were left to fight against relegation.