18.01.14 Arsenal v Fulham

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Two goals by Santi Cazorla in five second-half minutes saw a plucky Fulham side fall to defeat to league leaders Arsenal. After Mesut Özil had seen an early chance cleared from near the line by Brede Hangeland, the Whites actually enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes. Steve Sidwell almost put Fulham in front with a fierce drive from distance that Wojciech Szczesny did well to palm away, before Alexander Kačaniklić’s heavy touch sent him to close to the Arsenal goalkeeper as he looked to latch onto a Dimitar Berbatov throughball just before the break. Arsenal made the breakthrough in the 57th minute, though, when Cazorla slotted home Jack Wilshere’s cross and the little Spaniard made it 2-0 shortly afterwards with a low shot from just outside the box. Substitute Darren Bent squandered a golden chance to score a late goal for Fulham when he shot wide of an open goal under pressure from Laurent Koscielny and the result leaves the Whites hovering just above the relegation places and still looking for their first-ever win at the home of Arsenal. René Meulensteen made six changes to the side that lost 4-1 at home to Sunderland last Saturday. In came Maarten Stekelenburg, Brede Hangeland, Dan Burn, Kieran Richardson, Ashkan Dejagah and Kačaniklić. It was Burn’s league debut for the Whites after two impressive outings in the FA Cup with Budweiser games with Norwich City. Arsenal should have gone in front in the fourth minute. Özil played a one-two with Wilshere to have a clear sight on goal. As Stekelenburg came out to narrow the angle, Özil scuffed his shot and Hangeland was able to scramble clear from near the goal line. Serge Gnabry then shot wide with an ambitious effort but, having weathered that early storm, Fulham began to enjoy a long spell of possession. A well-worked move saw Dejagah get to the byline but his low cross towards Kačaniklić was turned behind for a corner by Per Mertesacker. Scott Parker took the full force of an Özil free-kick in the face in the 19th minute when he blocked the German’s effort, before Olivier Giroud worked his way into space but curled a left-footed shot from the edge of the box well over the bar. Sidwell came close to putting Fulham in front in the 26th minute. After Berbatov’s cross was only cleared as far as Sidwell by Bacary Sagna, the midfielder let fly from 25 yards with a rising half-volley that Szczesny did well to palm away with his right glove. The Whites were continuing to frustrate the Gunners with some confident play and Sascha Riether sent Dejagah scurrying clear in the 32nd minute, but Szczesny was quick to race off his line and dive at the winger’s feet. Stekelenburg kept the scoreline goalless in the 38th minute. After Cazorla’s free-kick was blocked by the Fulham wall, the ball fell to Sagna whose effort through a crowd of players was parried away by Stekelenburg. Giroud was first to the rebound and Stekelenburg leapt up to brilliantly block his close-range shot, although the offside flag had been raised. A quick break by Fulham in the 42nd minute could have had better consequences. Richardson did well to dispossess Sagna and launch the ball forwards. Berbatov showed superb control to bring the ball down before releasing Kačaniklić. The Swede burst forwards but a heavy touch let him down and sent him away from goal, with Szczesny racing off his line to save at the winger’s feet. It was the last noteworthy action of a half from which Fulham could rightly claim to have been the better side. Fulham began the second half as they’d started the last. An early Dejagah corner created something of a scramble with Burn’s header nodded clear from near the line by Giroud. At the other end, Gnabry cut inside from the right before hitting a left-footed drive that Stekelenburg palmed away. Burn and Sidwell then cleared two shots off the line in a mad scramble in the Fulham box but Arsenal were in front shortly afterwards in the 57th minute. Cazorla played the ball to Giroud on the edge of the box before making his way into the area. Giroud played a short pass to Wilshere on the left and his low cross was poked home from right on the penalty spot by Cazorla. It was 2-0 to Arsenal in the 62nd minute. Nacho Monreal’s cross from the left was headed clear by Hangeland but only as far as Cazorla whose low shot from the edge of the box beat the outstretched left arm of Stekelenburg to find the far corner. Meulensteen responded by bringing on midweek goalscorer Bent in place of Dejagah as Kačaniklić switched to the right and Clint Dempsey to the left. With 18 minutes remaining, Riether made a good block on a Lukas Podolski shot as the Arsenal substitute threatened to score seconds after coming on. A minute later Podolski let fly from 20 yards but saw his fierce left-footed drive pushed onto the post by Stekelenburg. Kačaniklić was replaced with four minutes remaining by Pajtim Kasami, before Parker saw a long-range effort fly well wide. Fulham could have grabbed a consolation in injury time when Bent ran onto a lofted Burn ball and bundled through Szczesny. With the goal gaping, Koscielny got back to put Bent off and the forward could only send his shot wide. Dempsey saw a shot deflected just wide in stoppage time and Kasami forced Szczesny to grab his free-kick at the second attempt before the final whistle sounded to send Fulham to defeat.

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Pubblicato il 24 gennaio 2014, in Football con tag , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Aggiungi il permalink ai segnalibri. Lascia un commento.

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