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Arsenal 3-3 Fulham Premiership Matchday 11 1213 The Sun

last updated Tuesday 13th November 2012, 4:34 PM


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Antony Kastrinakis at SunSport


Arsenal (2) 3 Fulham (2) 3


Martin Jol summed it up best for Arsenal fans after this unforgettable thriller.

The Fulham boss just said: "We took four points off them last year - and they had Robin van Persie then.

" In other words, Arsenal are not as good as last year - or the one before.

Years of selling their best players has left them in a state of constant transition.

This summer they sold their captain and best player.

Bottom line? Arsenal's slim title hopes, if any fans harboured any, are disappearing into the abyss.

Or rather because of their abysmal defence.

Mark Schwarzer's sensational last-minute save from Mikel Arteta's penalty gave this helter-skelter of an afternoon a perfect ending.

Justice was done but no thanks to cock-up ref Phil Dowd.

His decision to give Arsenal a dodgy last-minute spot-kick nearly ruined this celebration of everything that is great about English football.

Sascha Riether was just two feet away from Andrey Arshavin when he crossed and tried to move his arm out of the way.

Arteta stepped up and Schwarzer took off low to his left to leave the home fans, Arsene Wenger and his players stunned.

Jol's Cottagers deserved a point, and were led by the classy Dimitar Berbatov.

But you cannot fault Wenger's summer signings for this blip.

Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski netted but Arsenal surrendered a two-goal lead for the second time in four days.

The harsh reality is they will not challenge for the title.

They have won only two of their last six games in the Premier League and they are 11 points behind leaders Manchester United.

And the reason for it is they cannot defend.

The Gunners have conceded 12 goals in their last four matches in all competitions.

Although they had let in the fewest in the league until yesterday, they had still lost the games that mattered.

Giroud headed Arsenal in front from Theo Walcott's corner after 11 minutes.

Shortly after, Kieran Richardson tweaked a hamstring and before Alex Kacaniklic came on in his place, Arsenal were two up through Podolski.

Santi Cazorla tried to feed Walcott but it fell to Arteta.

He squared for the German, who nipped in between Aaron Hughes and Chris Baird to plonk it home.

It was Podolski's first goal in seven games and his fifth strike this season.

Giroud is coming good, too, and has four goals in as many matches and six overall.

Jol's gameplan was clear.

Target Thomas Vermaelen at left back.

Even Wenger admitted prior to the game that the Belgian star was suffering mentally.

Well, being played out of position does not help either.

Andre Santos seems to have finally lost the confidence of Wenger - not so much for swapping shirts with Van Persie last week - but because his performances have been dire.

In any case, Jol's plan worked a treat and both their first-half goals came from the left.

After 29 minutes Bryan Ruiz swung in a corner, Per Mertesacker missed it and Berbatov had a free header to put Fulham back in the game.

They were level before the interval.

Riether released Berbatov on the left and he crossed for the unmarked Kacaniklic to head past the despairing Vito Mannone.

It was deja vu as Arsenal gave up a two-goal advantage - just as they did at Schalke in the Champions League on Tuesday.

And with 24 minutes left Fulham went ahead.

Arteta gave the ball away to Ruiz and then bundled him to the ground inside the box.

Dowd got this one right.

Berbatov stepped up and left Mannone standing.

The Bulgarian ran to the bench to celebrate with Jol - the old Spurs connection.

But Arsenal were level straight away as Cazorla picked out Giroud.

His shot hit a post but Walcott sent the ball back in and this time Giroud nodded home.

Sidwell had a chance to settle it with a minute left but his header from a Ruiz corner went wide.

Giroud could have been the hero but headed Sagna's cross wide.

And then came the contentious penalty which Arteta missed.

Arsenal had only twice before failed to win a match in which they held a two-goal lead at the Emirates.

Both times they faced Tottenham - a 4-4 draw and 2-3 loss.

STAR MAN - SCHWARZER (FULHAM)

ARSENAL
: Mannone 5, Sagna 6, Koscielny 6, Mertesacker 6, Vermaelen 5, Coquelin 6 (Ramsey 7), Arteta 4, Cazorla 5, Walcott 6 (Arshavin 6), Podolski 7 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 6), Giroud 8.
Subs not used: Szczesny, Andre Santos, Jenkinson, Chamakh.

Booked: Ramsey.

FULHAM: Schwarzer 9, Riether 6, Hughes 6, Hangeland 5, Riise 6, Ruiz 7, Baird 6, Sidwell 7, Richardson 5 (Kacaniklic 7), Berbatov 8, Dejagah 6 (Duff 6).
Subs not used: Stockdale, Senderos, Petric, Karagounis, Rodallega.

Booked: Sidwell, Baird.

REF: P Dowd 5



















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