Arsenal v Fulham
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: January 18, 2014 3.00 PM BST
Looking at Fulham’s recent performances and results, many thought this would be a walk in the park for Arsenal. And it seemed that could be the case in the opening fifteen minutes.
Arsenal were passing the ball around with pace and skill, not giving Fulham any time on the ball whatsoever. The Gunners were camped just outside the Fulham box, the Cottagers unable to get out of their own half.
It looked like Arsenal were going to take the lead when Wilshere put Özil through on goal. He elected to try a cut back for Giroud instead of shooting though, and it was easily cut out. I know he is the King of assists, but he really should have shot there.
Fulham eventually started to grow into the game as Arsenal’s tempo slowed a bit. Putting dangerous crosses in and putting the Arsenal defence and keeper under pressure. Szczesny was on fire thankfully, making an unbelievable save from a Sidwell long shot. The ball was hit with venom, and the Pole needed a strong wrist to palm it away. Fulham’s counters were looking dangerous too, Szczesny having to be alert to do a lot of sweeping.
Arsenal had another chance that really should have been put away, a free kick from the edge of the box. Cazorla smashed it against the wall, but it fell straight to Sagna who struck it goalwards. Stekelenburg made the save, but it dropped for Giroud who surely couldn’t miss. The Frenchman’s shot was straight at the Dutch keeper from a couple of yards out, but he was given offside anyway.
Mertesacker went down with a head injury in the last couple of minutes after a collision with Flamini. The big German was straight back up though and the half finished 0-0.
A fairly poor half by Arsenal’s standards, who really should have made more of their early domination. Fulham looked dangerous at times, but the Gunners should surely have the class to put the Cottagers away in the second half.
Sagna Mertesacker(c) Koscielny Monreal
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