Fulham 2 (Sidwell 85, Zamora 90+2) – 1 Arsenal (Koscielny 21)
Man of the Match – Bobby Zamora (Fulham)
That’s completed the treble, something I was not hoping for. A draw, a win and now, a disappointing loss. Disappointing, not because we lost, dissapointment because of the way we played.
Arsenal came into the game, short of full-backs, and also without their best stand-in full back, after Thomas Vermaelen was ruled out for 2 weeks. When something goes wrong for Arsenal, everything else in the department follows suit. Francis Coquelin was called into action to deputise in an unfamiliar position. Aaron Ramsey started and so did Gervinho. There was talk about resting the irrepressible Robin van Persie, but Marrouane Chamakh isn’t the kind of player you would look up to, in a must-win game like this.
Arsenal’s wastefulness in front of goal was clearly demonstrated in the first half. Ramsey and Arteta were unerring in their distribution. Gervinho was lively through out the game, and Robin van Persie looked lethal at times. But, all the good movement was to end up with poor finishing from the Gunners. Theo Walcott, was pathetic, to say the least, as he created decent positions for himself, but seemed to have got his crosses all perfectly placed for Hangeland and Senderos, to clear.
The pressure did tell, when Laurent Koscielny took full advantage of slack defending as he headed in off an Arteta cross. Moments later, they almost made it 2-0, only to be denied by David Stockdale. Why do keepers have the game of their lives against Arsenal, I clearly have no clue.
Theo Walcott did not move into top gear in the game and was well marshalled by John Arne-Riise. Aaron Ramsey had a couple of shots before half-time, but were well stopped by Stockdale.
The second half was a story of no-show from Arsenal. It seemed like the cameraman had taken the day off as the camera seemed still in Arsenal’s half. Fulham were rampant, though not blisteringly, but efficiently and patiently. Bryan Ruiz was giving Francis Coquelin a hard time, but the Frenchman had a good game, out of position. Per Mertesacker might be as tall as a California fir, but that doesn’t mean he can expect the ball to come to his head all the time. Zamora, Dembele, Dempsey and even Hangeland and Senderos gave him and Koscielny a torrid time.
The turning point of the game came in the 78th minute, when Johan Djourou was harshly sent off, for a Zamora dive. Fulham’s pressure finally told, as Szczesny did a de Gea, and completely lost control of the ball. Fulham capitalized and Steve Sidwell slotted home. It seemed like a point would be a worthy result, after a poor 2nd half performance.
But, it was not to be as Bobby Zamora stabbed home the winner with seconds remaining.
Szczesny (6.5) – Made some important saves, but spilled the ball, which lead to Fulham’s first.
Mertesacker (6) – Didn’t do the job that he is being paid to do, i.e clear the f***ing ball with his tree-sized body.
Koscielny (7) – Got the goal, which seemed like the winner. Was again good, but should’ve done better with the late goals.
Djourou (6) – Let alone right-back, why is he still at Arsenal?
Coquelin (7.5) – Can’t blame the young lad. Put in a creditable performance.
Song (7) – Had a decent game. Intense contest with Dembele.
Arteta (7) – Particularly good in the first half. Not to be seen in the second.
Ramsey (7) – Can be frustrating at times.
Walcott (5) – Was very poor today. Time to unleash the Ox.
Gervinho (7) – Creates good situations and then throws them away. Needs to take shooting lessons from RVP and Henry. With him gone for the ACN, I have no idea how that’s gonna happen.
van Persie (7) – Got little or no service on the night. Looked exhausted in the second half. Needs a good week’s rest.
Rosicky (6.5) – I like him a lot as a player, but sadly, his best days are past him.
Benayoun (6) – Hardly got the ball, to make any kind of impact.
Squillaci (5) – Forget Harry Redknapp’s missus, Harry Redknapp’s grandma would do a better shift at right-back. Not a reliable defender to have.
Overall Team Rating – 6.46