Fulham Stun Tame Arsenal

Fulham 1 Arsenal 0

A first half goal by Brede Hangeland was enough to give Fulham a deserved victory over a poor Arsenal side at Craven Cottage.

Despite having only beaten Arsenal once in the Premier League and having started this season with a defeat to newly promoted Hull City last weekend, Roy Hodgson’s men began the game in confident mood.

The Cottagers looked comfortable in possession and were happy to knock the ball around in midfield, almost as if they were trying to beat the visitors at the own game. Up front Zamora was involved early on, the former West Ham man blazing a shot over as early as the seventh minute.

Arsenal, missing Cesc Fabregas, began with a central midfield partnership of Eboue and Denilson, with Nasir and Walcott providing the width on the flanks. Yet they struggled to create anything of note early on, indeed the closest the visitors came to a goal was an Adebayor shot that he hit wide after being put through by van Persie.

Fulham were probing and Bullard, Murphy and Davies all looked comfortable in possession in the midfield, with the visitors lacking any real bite in the centre of the pitch.

Half-way through the first half, Roy Hodgson’s men were rewarded for their efforts. A Bullard corner was delivered perfectly into the box and Hangeland, beating William Gallas to the ball, poked home the opener for his first Fulham goal.

Two minutes later and the Gunners should have been level. A pinpoint right wing cross from Sagna found the head of Adebayor but unfortunately for Arsenal, the Togolese striker’s header cannoned back off the post and away to safety.

Whilst Fulham probably expected a backlash from Arsene Wenger’s men it failed to really arrive. Walcott fired a shot over after some good approach work from Adebayor and van Persie fired a free kick into the stands. However, other than those few chances, a strangely subdued Gunners side offered relatively little.

Fulham, meanwhile, looked by far the more composed and comfortable side and headed into the break with their deserved lead intact.

The second half began in the same vein, Fulham looking comfortable, bossing the midfield and closing Arsenal down well. By contrast the Gunners were struggling to provide any ammunition to van Persie and Adeyabor up front with Nasri and Walcott both toiling.

The home side should have doubled their lead on the hour mark. Some good passing saw the ball through to Seol on the left. The South Korean put a decent delivery into the box where Zamora, getting in front of Gallas, contrived to flick the ball over the bar from close range.

A frustrated Wenger, with few options on the bench, replaced the ineffective Walcott for Bendtner but again it was Fulham who came closest.

Another slick move saw Seol put in Zamora, the former Hammer with his back to goal laid it back to the incoming Davies who rushed his shot and instead of finding the top corner slammed the ball into row Z.

Still, with just a single goal lead Fulham remained vulnerable. Van Persie flashed another low shot wide with twenty minutes to go but the Cottagers had been warned.

A nervy home side who dropped so many points from leading positions last season, wobbled slightly in the closing stages with Arsenal attempting to pile on the pressure in the closing minutes, but Roy Hodgson's men held firm to record a fully deserved three points.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Kallio (Baird, 73), Davies, Bullard, Murph (Teymourian, 82), Gera, Zamora, Ki-Hyeon (Dempsey, 77).

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure (Song, 77), Gallas, Clichy, Walcott (Bendtner, 65), Eboue, Denilson, Nasri, Adebayor, Van Persie.


1-0 Fulham (Hangeland, 20)

Hangeland give Fulham the lead in the first half and Arsenal got off to their first defeat of the season.

21′ [1 - 0] B. Hangeland

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