Arsenal 2 Fulham 1
After having moved the fixture to Sunday lunchtime, Fulham finally got their 2007-2008 Premier League campaign underway at the Emirates Stadium.
After making a plethora of signings during the close season, Lawrie Sanchez chose to give Baird, Konchesky, Davis, Bouazza and Healy their Fulham Premiership debuts. Surprisingly, there was no place in the starting line up for the most expensive signing, Diomansy Kamara!
In the minutes leading up to the kick off Fulham suffered a set back when Niemi had to be withdrawn from the starting eleven due to a twisted wrist. However, his replacement was to produce an inspired first half display.
In a half whereby Arsenal dominated possession Warner put in an assured display producing save after save. Unfortunately, at the other end, Lehmann will want to forget his first half contribution.
As early as the first minute the German keeper gifted Fulham an early lead. His rash clearance from a back pass saw Healy comfortably score his first Premiership goal for his new club, sliding home the loose ball from six yards out. There had been less than a minute played and already we were dreaming of the improbable, a first Fulham win away at Arsenal.
Despite going a goal behind so early, Arsenal responded well and Warner had t produce some magnificent saves to keep Fulham ahead. The most notable one being when Rosicky unleashed a swerving volley, Fabregas being thwarted as he closed in and Hleb being disappointed as yet another on-target attempt came to nothing.
Down at the other end, Fulham could possibly have had a penalty when Fabregas appeared to trip to the advancing Davis. Sadly, the referee waved play on. 1-0 was good enough but to go in at 2-0 would have been fantastic. Could we hold on for a further forty-five minutes?
Despite the continual wave of red shirts bearing down on our goal, the chances of us hanging on to that lead looked good. Arsenal were playing their normal pretty football but without creating that guilt-edged chance that would provide the equaliser.
Fulham looked robust and Sanchez rotated the players introducing Kamara, Dempsey and Diop in an attempt to keep Arsenal at bay. Unfortunately, just as you thought we`d do it, we received a right kick in the guts.
Bocanegra was harshly adjudged to have committed a foul just inside the area and despite the vociferous protests the referee insisted it was a penalty. Van Persie duly scored and we looked to the heavens wondering why got within six minutes of a memorable win.
Nevertheless, a draw was still a pretty decent result and one we`d have happily accepted before the game started. But didn`t you just sense it was going to happen, didn`t you just sense that Arsenal would get that last minute winner?
Therefore when a diagonal ball into the box found Hleb you knew he`d score. Ninety minutes and I felt sick. Never mind lets look forward to the next fixture, surely we can`t be so unlucky again?
Team - Warner, Baird, Bocanegra, Knight, Konchesky, Davies, Smertin (Diop 71), Davis, Bouazza (Dempsey 45), Healy (Kamara 62), McBride
Unused Subs - Omozusi, Volz,
Fulham Scorers - Healy
Fulham Yellow Cards - Bocanegra, Smertin, Kamara, Warner, Diop
Fulham Red Cards - Nil
Referee - P. Dowd