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Arsenal 0-0 Fulham - Match Report

last updated Saturday 28th February 2009, 8:39 PM

Fulham Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer
Fulham Goalkeeper
Mark Schwarzer
denies Arsenal
Misfiring Arsenal were booed off after they failed to find the net for the fourth straight Barclays Premier League game as their clash with Fulham ended goalless at Emirates Stadium.

Robin van Persie was twice denied by Mark Schwarzer from close range in the first half, with the Fulham keeper also saving well from Abou Diaby and Andrei Arshavin.

Fulham, though, were anything but negative - and had come close to taking an early lead through Andrew Johnson.

The goalless run - a worst since 1994/95 - has proved costly for the Gunners, who are now in danger of losing out on fifth place to Everton.

With no dedicated strike partner for leading scorer van Persie in the side, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger pushed Samir Nasri into a more attacking role in front of the midfield.

It was Fulham, though, playing with two up front, who created the first opening when Johnson latched onto a chipped pass and dragged a shot from the edge of the area wide.

Midfielder Simon Davies then beat the Arsenal offside trap, but fired his shot over the crossbar from just inside the box.

Match Stats Arsenal Fulham
Goals 0 0
Possession 47% 53%
Goal attempts 19 13
On Target 4 1
Corners 11 6
Off-sides 1 1
Saves 1 4
Fouls 6 14
Yellows 0 0
Reds 0 0
source: Soccernet

Johnson should have put the visitors ahead when he was released by a knockdown from Bobby Zamora and a brilliant touch turned marker Kolo Toure inside out.

However, the former England striker then slipped the ball wide before Clint Dempsey had a shot blocked at the near post.

In the 10th minute, only a brilliant reaction save from Schwarzer stopped van Persie from putting Arsenal in front with a bullet header after Andrei Arshavin's weighted chip across the six-yard box.

Wenger could certainly not accuse Fulham of being negative, as they were soon back on the offensive, with Dempsey drilling a long-range effort wide.

At the other end, Arshavin fired an angled shot over after being played into the right side of the penalty box.

Fulham continued to knock the ball about crisply, much to the annoyance of the home crowd, still waiting for a Premier League goal to celebrate after more than three hours.

Zamora's low strike from the edge of the area was collected by Manuel Almunia at his near post.

Carlos Vela broke quickly down the left and fed Nasri in the centre, but the Frenchman dwelled too long on the ball, twisting and turning, before eventually being hustled out of possession.

Danny Murphy drilled his shot just over the angle of post and bar as Fulham again signalled their attacking threat.

After 35 minutes, a superb slide-rule pass from the impressive Arshavin released van Persie into the right side of the penalty area.

But Schwarzer was quick off his line to make the block, with the Arsenal striker then seeing his follow-up shot deflected behind.

Fulham were forced into a change for the start of the second half when full-back Chris Baird, who had earlier needed treatment for a what looked like an ankle injury, was replaced by Fredrik Stoor.

Arsenal moved Arshavin up front alongside van Persie, and started brightly.

However, once again delivery into the penalty area was poor.

Nasri nipped into the box on the left, but his shot was blocked behind by Brede Hangeland.

From the resulting corner, van Persie sent a header onto the roof of the net.

Bacary Sagna - whose wife gave birth to their first child yesterday - chipped the ball in from the right, and van Persie's glancing header hit the outside of the far post.

Fulham continued to look dangerous on the break and a deflected effort from Johnson looped onto the roof of the net.

Substitute Nicklas Bendtner latched onto a short backpass, and held the ball up on the goalline before crossing to the far post, where an angled drive from a tired Arshavin flew behind.

On 71 minutes, Schwarzer kept Abou Diaby's downward header off the line with his legs as Arsenal again came agonisingly close to breaking their goal drought.

Arshavin was put in on the left, but Schwarzer stood up well at the near post to tip his fierce drive behind.

Arsenal continued to press during four minutes of stoppage time, but were once again left frustrated sat the final whistle as the boos rang out around Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
"We had chances to score and so did they, it was an open game. And it finished with a result that we did not want as we have dropped two points.

"We are not scoring goals and the offensive confidence of the team is not high and as a result the players are becoming a little anxious.

"The fans are frustrated and so are we are.

"We have to take the result on the chin and continue to fight."

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson:
"There were times in the game when we played to our full potential - it was as good as it gets from us.

"We were a constant threat and we carved out many opportunities. Arsenal are an offensive side at home and we matched them.

"We were well organised and the shape of our team was good."

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna (Eboue 70), Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Arshavin, Denilson, Diaby, Nasri, Van Persie, Vela (Bendtner 63).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Ramsey, Song Billong, Djourou, Gibbs.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Baird (Stoor 46), Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey (Gera 88), Johnson, Zamora.
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Kamara, Dacourt, Kallio.

Att: 60,102

Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).

BBC Sport man of the match: Fulham's Mark Schwarzer

Source Soccernet
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