The Premier League table looks just about right to me. Arsenal once again move top for the second time in a week. This will last for quite some time, at least until Manchester United plays their match in hand. As I mentioned in the preview, this traditionally is a tight game. The final scoreline mirrors that of the opening game of the 2007/08 season.
Tomas Rosicky continued to wear the armband in the absence of Cesc Fabregas and maintained his place in the starting line-up for the second consecutive league game. Arsenal started brightly right from the kick-off and were guilty of missing several chances to take the lead. Andrey Arshavin and Samir Nasri were presented with strikes on goal but failed to make it count. The latter would then atoned for his miss with a quite superb goal.
Arshavin dribbled past a couple of Fulham players and with a few more closing him down, still managed to find the final pass to Nasri on the right side. Nasri proceeded to fake 2 shots which sent first Brade Hangeland, then Aaron Hughes sliding on the grass for nothing. He riffled the shot in Mark Schwarzer’s top left corner.
Then, things turn the other way around. Delightful and bright in the opening exchanges, Arsenal failed to maintain the momentum and slowly but surely, allowed Fulham back into the game. Diomansy Kamara has already been called offside a handful of times but it was a dangerous tactics that we were using. On all those offside decision, no defender were aware of Kamara’s movement. One mistake in timing and we could easily concede.
That same passages of play were used repeated by Fulham and it paid off for them. Though, it must be said that the goal came off a clash of heads between Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny. The younger of the French centreback had to be stretchered off with a possible concussion but the damage has already been done. This time, Kamara was onside and finished with aplomb.
This was another case of our team allowing the opposition back into the game when we should have killed off the tie with the amount of chances we had created. Those profligacy in front of goal has come back to haunt us in the past and was threatening to do the same in this match as well. Luckily for us, that was not what transpired.
Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott has already been summoned to get us the wining goal but the winner came from the same source which provided our first. RvP wriggled free just outside of Fulham’s box and was opening himself up to make the shot but played the reverse ball to the onrushing Nasri. Our star man thus far this season first dragged the ball away from John Paintsil, then again from Schwarzer. However, he pushed the ball slightly wide and had to make a 360 degrees spin before shooting into an empty net from yet another tight angle.
Nasri has certainly come up with the goods this season. It is always heart-warming to see someone else take the mantle of inspiring the team when Fabregas is out. A note of praise should also go to Arshavin. For the second match in a row that he has featured, he has looked more and more like the played Arsene Wenger first signed. Tough to shake off the ball and forceful in his dribbling runs, he has more involved than some of the inept displays that we were shown earlier in the season.
Lukasz Fabianski also deserved a big mention as his save in the first half prevented Fulham from taking an undeserved 2-1 lead which could easily make things very hard for us. He was also very commanding when dealing with crosses and corners. Whether he chose to catch or punch the ball, he did it very well. There was one dodgy moment in the second half when he comes to claim but made no contact with the ball but otherwise had a commendable performance.
It was also good to see Phil Senderos taking his seat beside Fabregas. He was not the only former player in the stadium as Thierry Henry was there as well. Perhaps the presence of a legend inspired the team not to give up. Regardless, it was good for the team not to crumble like the last time Henry was there (yes, you guessed it, the Spuds game).
Hope you enjoyed the win as much as I did, or even more. Till tomorrow.