Report: Fulham 1-3 Arsenal
Arsenal picked up from where they left off on Wednesday as Fulham were put to sword in a 3-1 win at Craven Cottage today.
For the second straight weekend, Olivier Giroud got Arsenal off the mark with an early goal and the visitors negotiated their way into holding that lead before a Podolski strike five minutes from the break gave the Gunners some breathing space.
The German forward was at it again almost midway through the second-half as another goal from Podolski added more comfort to the scoreline. Darren Bent came on to continue his prolific personal record against Arsenal with a tap-in which did force a few nerves in the closing stages but Arsene Wenger’s men had it in the bag today.
Saturday’s starting line-up featured the expected make-shift back line which had Bacary Sagna partnering up Per Mertesacker at centre-back while Jenkinson filled at right back.
Despite an energetic start from the north Londoners, a soaking wet afternoon had threatened to halt whatever momentum they were building from their midweek delight at Fenerbahce.
But that was only until a stroke of fortune arrived through the messy conditions on the pitch after 14 minutes. Ramsey attempted a long range strike, but the ball slowed down perfectly onto the foot of Giroud like a through pass, and the Frenchman did well to go on and tip the ball past the goalkeeper.
The hosts were immediately in search of an equalizer and it should have arrived had it not been for a sensational double save from Szczesny in a goal-mouth firing from Fulham.
The contest was beginning to even up at this point but even on a wet day like this, the Gunners weathered their way through a period of Fulham pressure and after 40 minutes, caught them cold with a second goal.
Arsenal broke into attack, Walcott’s shot from the right was parried by the goalkeeper right into the middle of the area and an arriving Podolski blasted the ball home.
Last season, Arsenal raced into a similar 2-0 lead in this fixture but another Podolski strike after 68 minutes banished any fears of a repeat of that 3-3 draw at the Emirates stadium.
Cazorla held on to the ball in his trademark slick fashion on the left flank and handed it over to Podolski who fired a low shot into the far corner of the net.
In front of their own fans, Martin Jol’s men still wanted to make a fight of this one and when Berbatov sent in a teasing ball across the goal for Darren Bent to bundle it home with Szczesny out-stretched for once, you could not rule out any late drama with more than 13 minutes still left.
But Fulham soon found out it was a lost battle.