Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday February 28 2009
I`ve got this smug smile all over my face!
I had this dreadful feeling that, today, Arsenal might just find those scoring boots that have deserted them in their last three Premier League fixtures, thankfully, I was wrong.
Instead Fulham gave the sort of performance that has convinced me, that after our struggles of last season, under Roy Hodgson we`ve got this Premier League thing almost cracked.
We might not be winning, or even scoring, on the road but our resilience is to be admired, already this season we`ve earned 0-0 draws at Anfield and Villa Park and now we`ve come away from the Emirates Stadium with a similar result. Not that bad considering they are three of the so-called big five!
Amazingly, today, we didn`t do it by, as Arsene Wenger complains about many sides visiting the Emirates, parking the team coach in front of the goal. In fact, for long periods we were giving as good as we got and our central midfield duo of Murphy and Etuhu deserve all the accolades that may come their way, although Mark Schwarzer should also be given a special mention.
With John Pantsil suspended, Hodgson surprised us all by playing Chris Baird at right back and at an Emirates Stadium holding in excess of 60,000 it was Fulham that started the brighter with Andrew Johnson seeing a chance go just wide after good work from Simon Davies.
Andrey Arshavin, having finally arrived in English football, looked to be the danger man for Arsenal and cutting inside he gave Nasri a good opportunity but the ball went wide of the post. Zamora then found Johnson who slipped past Toure but dragged his shot wide, things were looking promising.
Arshavin carved out another chance for the home side but Van Persie, ideally placed, saw his effort go straight at Schwarzer, instead of either side, and the Aussie pushed it up and over the bar. After our bright side Arsenal were coming more into it but the Fulham defence held solid and we could even have taken the lead as the half approached its close.
Some good work from Bobby Zamora saw the ball fall invitingly to Danny Murphy but our club captain dragged his shot wide from twenty yards.
Arsenal came out on the front foot in the second half and Van Persie saw a header go over before another effort, from the Dutchman, clipped the outside of the post. But as is often the case, the longer the half went on the more agitated the home support became and that meant half the battle was being won.
Johnson saw an effort land on the roof of the net as Fulham occasionally pushed the home side back and when a Diaby chance was kept out by the feet of Schwarzer you began to believe that we`d at least get a share of the spoils and as the referee blew the final whistle that was exactly what we got with the booing, from the home fans, reaching a crescendo as their team left the pitch.
For Fulham there was a sea of miles and the knowledge that the mythical forty point target is not very far away now and it`s not even March!
Date:Saturday February 28 2009
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