1 users online


Arsenal 2-0 Fulham Prem 22 1314 Mirror

last updated Monday 20th January 2014, 5:22 PM
The Mirror Logo
Steve Stammers at The Mirror

Arsenal (0) 2 Fulham (0) 0

Arsenal 2-0 Fulham Prem 22 1314 Mirror The Gunners struggled to break down a dogged Fulham defence in the first half, but eventually made the breakthrough just before the hour mark

In the end, it was a triumph for class over tenacity as the Arsenal title push gathered further momentum.

For the best part of an hour, the dogged and ­organised resistance of a Fulham outfit casting anxious looks towards the bottom three rather than the top four, had frustrated the Premier League leaders.

Try as they may, Arsenal could not find a way through - until, that is, the potent combination of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere struck with ­devastating effect.

It had seemed that once again the superb Maarten Stekelenburg had denied Arsenal with a point-blank save from Laurent Koscielny.

But the reprieve survived less than a minute. Cazorla linked up with Olivier Giroud to release Wilshere and the England midfield man's inch perfect cut-back was driven home by Cazorla.

A strangely subdued crowd suddenly found their voices as the "one-nil to the Arsenal" refrain rang round North London. Its origins were in a different era, one when it was time to shut up shop and go home. But this is a more adventurous Arsenal and one capable of finding a way through massed ranks like those assembled by Fulham.

Cazorla's breakthrough came after 58 minutes.

Arsenal smelt blood and within four minutes had doubled their advantage as Fulham struggled to find a Plan B. Before they had time to re-group, Cazorla took a speculative shot from the edge of the area which went through defenders' legs to find the net.

"There is no secret to Arsenal," said Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen before the match. Knowing the threat is one thing, dealing with it is quite another.

It is no secret that Cazorla could find space in a phone booth. It is no secret that Wilshere can survive the most fearsome of challenges and emerge with the ball. It's impossible to intimidate him out of the game.

And it is no secret that Arsenal now have the collective spirit that can help them maintain their bid to end a nine-year trophy drought.

"We were a bit one-paced in the first half," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (above). "When we went up a gear, we got two good goals." When a team sets up with the defensive discipline shown by Fulham, the quicker the breakthrough, the better.

It could have come in the fifth minute when Serge Gnabry and Wilshere created a chance for Mesut Ozil and, although the German's effort beat Stekelenburg, the shot lacked power and Brede Hangeland cleared.

Then it became a battle of attrition. Arsenal pass-pass-pass. Fulham tackle-tackle-tackle. And then tackle again. They were reliant on the speed of Alexander Kacaniklic on the break and occasional support from midfield.

Steve Sidwell provided that back-up and hit a screaming 20-yard shot that saw Wojciech Szczesny make his best save of the match in the 26th minute.

Then it became the Cazorla-Wilshere show.

Meulensteen put Fulham's defeat down to a failure to follow orders, saying: "With the quality of players they have, like Wilshere, Ozil and Cazorla, they move the ball quickly and if you switch off and don't track runners that is what can happen."

Wenger added: "We are remarkably consistent. We have played 22 games and have 51 points. If you compare that to any other season it is one of the best ever. Let's continue.

"We have a good solidarity in the group."

Source .
Since 1998
"It's been updated!"