Arsenal 2 (Cazorla 57,62) – 0 Fulham
Man of the Match – Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
It was just another day at the office for Arsenal as they chalked up another vital win to hold on to the top spot in the Premier League. Struggling Fulham did provide some resistance, but were eventually undone by Arsenal’s class.
Nacho Monreal started at left-back, and with the advent of injuries, Serge Gnabry kept his place in the starting line-up. Arsenal got into their groove pretty early and fashioned the first chance of the game in just the 4th minute, when Wilshere played in Ozil, whose shot past the keeper crawled towards the goal, but was cleared before Giroud could tap it home.
That seemed to be the only bright moment in what was otherwise a dull few opening minutes, as Arsenal failed to slip into top gear. Gnabry and Giroud created chances for each other, but both failed to put it away. Fulham, slowly building on confidence created their first chance, and it was dangerous. Bacary Sagna headed away a Berbatov cross right into the path of former Gunner Steve Sidwell, whose volley looked destined to go in, only for Wojciech Szczesny to get it away.
Arsenal then had a great chance to take the lead, when they were awarded a free kick right outside the D. Cazorla’s free kick struck the wall, with Sagna reacting first with a shot off his left foot. It was saved by Netherlands international keeper Marten Stekelenburg. It fell straight to Giroud and Stekelenburg managed to save again, before the attack was called back for offside.
Fulham were creating chances on the breaks, with Dimitar Berbatov creating chances. He released Kacaniklic, but Szczesny averted the danger after poor touch from the Swede. The half ended with an effort from Gnabry, which wasn’t even close.
Fulham, infact started the second half stronger than the home side, and created havoc in the Arsenal penalty box, through a corner, which the Gunners managed to clear. Giroud and Gnabry saw their efforts being saved by Stekelenburg in quick succession.
Arsenal should have taken the lead moments later, when off a Cazorla free kick saw Sagna head the ball towards the goal, only for a goal-line intervention. Gnabry was on hand, but his effort was blocked too. The Gunners didn’t have to wait long though, as Cazorla soon made it 1-0.
Wilshere and Giroud combined effectively to set up Cazorla, whose shot went past Fulham’s defence and past a diving Stekelenburg into the goal. And before Fulham could respond, Arsenal hit another nail with another goal from Cazorla.
A Monreal cross was headed out by Brede Hangeland, into the path of Cazorla, who created space for himself, and unleashed a second with his left foot, a xerox of the first goal. With a 2 goal cushion, Arsene Wenger bought on Lukas Podolski for Serge Gnabry, and the experienced German international had an instant impact, with his first touch being blocked out for a corner. A minute later, only the fingertips of Stekelenburg could prevent a left-footed rocket from Podolski going in, as the shot struck the bar.
Arsenal had little defending to do, and they did it well, with some good mix of interceptions and clearances. Scott Parker et al had efforts. Another former Sp*rs player, Clint Dempsey too had a go, while former Sp*rs striker Darren Bent missed a sitter. A good time to remind you of his absolute sitter against Arsenal at White Hart Lane, which he missed. This time, he put the ball wide from 7 yards and managed to hurt himself in the process.
So, all in all, another solid and sturdy performance. A good rest awaits as Arsenal host Coventry in the FA Cup, with the manager expected to play his fringe players, before the midweek game with Southampton.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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