Another shaky performance as we come out with three points this time. We go top of the league and it doesn’t matter how we got there. What matters is we have to stay there.
The game had elements similar to what we have seen in the past few matches. Complete domination by us in the start, we score the goals but miss a lot more that should literally finish the game. We then succumb to I don’t know what and concede goals. Then we look panicked and forget what we are supposed to do as the game opens up and it is for anyone’s to take.
The start as usual was very bright by us as we dominated Fulham. Arshavin was clearly on fire as he set up some beautiful balls and himself got chances to score. Arshavin had an early Volley saved by Schwarzer when we got a free kick. Rosicky had an opening to shoot but he chose to pass the ball to Chamakh and the chance was lost. Arshavin was involved in this move also. Nasri then went just wide on a through ball from Arshavin. The breakthrough was not far behind though. Arshavin again picked up Nasri with a wonderful ball and he sidestepped two challenges before smashing the ball past Schwarzer. It was a goal to watch. Simply amazing as we got our early goal.
We didn’t stop there and Arshavin again picked up Chamakh with a great lobbed ball. Chamakh should have gone for goal but he chose to pass the ball back and the chance was spurred. Arshavin a few minutes later himself had a shot that was saved by Schwarzer. Nasri then made a brilliant run down the right and he squared the ball. Somehow Fulham kept the ball out of goal as the score remained one nil. Song then went wide with an open header from an excellent cross by Sagna.
By now not even 30 minutes had passed and we had created half a dozen chances of which three should have been scored on at least. As it was we were leading by a goal only. Then the moment of madness occurred at the back as Squillaci collided with Koscielny and Dempsey got the ball. He passed it to Kamara who made no mistake to put it past Fabianski as the score leveled up. Koscielny was stretchered off due to injury from the collision as Djourou came on for him.
The final 15 minutes of the first half were equally contested. We went flat after conceding the goal and started doing uncharacteristic mistakes. We were too casual with the ball. Our defence was opened up far too many times which weren’t good to see.
Near the end Chamakh headed the ball straight to Schwarzer. Fulham went close to taking lead themselves but Fabianski brilliantly denied Kamara in a one-on-one. We went into the break with the scores leveled.
The second half start was uncharacteristic by us. No one was holding onto the ball for long as Fulham were pressing nicely. However, slowly we started getting into good positions. Rosicky had a first time shot on goal that went just wide when Song found him on the edge of the area. Arshavin, similar to Nasri, did brilliantly to open up space for himself and had a shot that was again stopped by Schwarzer. These chances raised the tempo of the game as Fulham also looked dangerous on the break. They got a couple of half chances as we survived the pressure.
Van Persie was brought on by Wenger in place of Wilshere. Arshavin and Van Persie combined to set up Nasri. He wriggled past challenges, the keeper and slotted home from the by line. Simply an amazing goal.
Fulham, however, were not to be stopped as they pushed for the equalizer. Etuhu had a shot that went just wide of the post. Chamakh at the other end had a chance to kill the game when Clichy found him with a cross. Chamakh although shot the ball over. Fabianski did his part near the end as he saved Gera’s shot that was heading towards goal. Near the end we did enough to keep Fulham from scoring as we ended the match with the three points secured.
Well one thing is confirmed from the match; we love to live dangerously and never go for the easy kill. These last few games have been really tense. However the spirit that the team is showing is worth the mention. We could have easily lost today had we not held our nerves. Although, we need to do it more convincingly. We could have easily finished the game in the first half had we taken our chances. We also could have easily conceded a couple after the scores got leveled. We survived the pressure and that was good to see. Let’s carry on with this on to the next games with more improvement.