Fulham 1 Arsenal 3: Prinz Poldi’s Double Puts Cottagers to the Sword
Craven Cottage (Premier League)
Fulham: Bent 77′
Arsenal: Giroud 14′, Podolski 41′, 68′
The Fenerbahce game was a clear reminder of how good Arsenal can be when they are on form. A lot of positives were taken from the trip to Turkey but they were going to count for nothing if the Gunners failed to replicate that form against Fulham.
With the starting XI more or less picking itself, there was a twist when the manager chose to rest Jack Wilshere to allow Lukas Podolski a chance to start his first game this season. A tactical move worth its weight in gold.
The Gunners were the quickest off the block with some intricate passing play that saw Podolski locate Kieran GIbbs on his left. The fullback drilled a cross into the danger area but there was no player in yellow that attacked the ball. However, the breakthrough arrived when Olivier Giroud showed great improvisation as well as a cool head after blocking Aaron Ramsey’s shot to slot the ball past Stockdale in goal.
That was his third goal in three games and it’s fair to say that the floodgates are opening for Arsenal’s same Ol’ G.
Giroud almost turned from scorer to provider when he was anticipated the ball to fashion a chance for Santi Cazorla. The diminutive magician blasted the ball with his left foot but it was easy pickings for the goalie. There was a brief moment of concern when Cazorla carelessly fouled the mercurial Adel Taarabt on the edge of the box. Patjim Kasami stepped to take the dead ball and the wall did its job but Wojciech Szczesny was there to mop up when the ball arrived in his path.
Taarabt was in the thick of things yet again and he was causing problems from the flanks but his cross into the danger area was intercepted by Per Mertesacker which led to a swift Arsenal counter attack. After some good play from Walcott and Ramsey, Gibbs was open in the box but he fired his effort wide off the mark.
It was pretty much end to end stuff in this game and there was a period when Fulham was as close an equalizer as Arsenal was as close to extending their lead but it’s worth noting that Podolski made sure that it was the latter. Cazorla went on a jinking run before teeing up Walcott that fired a shot which was parried by the goalie but Podolski was on hand to blast a rebound into the net.
Walcott was a thorn in the flesh of the Fulham defenders and he made another run that brought confusion to the back line before finding Podolski on his left but the German Machine was caught in two minds on whether to latch a shot at goal or drill a pass to a teammate. He chose the latter and the ball drifted away as it sailed aimlessly away from Stockdale’s far post.
Fulham pushed on for that elusive goal that would have brought them a glimmer of hope but Szczesny made a spectacular save by diving low to his near post to parry a well-taken shot from Taarabt. Arsenal put the game beyond doubt when Cazorla located Podolski on the edge of the area and the German blasted his shot through a crowded area to make it three.
Arsene Wenger brought in some reinforcements in the forms of Wilshere and Nacho Monreal for Tomas Rosicky and Giroud, but it was a Fulham substitute that made his mark on the pitch 20 minutes after coming in. Sascha Reither lofted the ball into Arsenal’s box and it was controlled by Dimitar Berbatov.
The Bulgarian blasted a shot that was parried by Szczesny but he guided the ball into Darren Bent’s path and the forward wasted no time in placing it to an unguarded net.
Arsenal pushed for a fourth goal and almost got it when Wilshere’s shot ricocheted to Mertesacker’s path but the German’s tame shot was saved by the goalie.
There was a milestone for Arsenal’s newbie, Yaya Sanogo, as he made his debut late on for Lukas Podolski. It was almost a dream debut when Walcott was close to creating a chance for him with a drilled effort but it was blocked for a corner kick.
Walcott was a real menace as the game progressed and he was close to getting a goal late on but it was parried by the goalie.
In the end, it was a very good day in the office for Arsene Wenger and his team but one must wonder if he’s still going to delve into the transfer market following two impressive away wins on the bounce.
In his post-match press conference, the media barraged him with questions about the team’s performance as well as the latest speculation regarding Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye, as he was left out of the Magpies’ squad in the stalemate against West Ham. It’s good to see the Gunners in form again but they have to retain their focus ahead of the second leg against Fenerbahce before the big North London Derby coming up soon.
Have a lovely Sunday.
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