Arsenal and Fulham in goaless thriller
Dempsey gives it a go
March 1 2009
A more exciting goaless draw, you are unlikely to see, with a positive Fulham side matching and often beating an Arsenal team that earned the jeers of their own fans. Fulham started well, beating the Gunners' off-side trap easily. They had a number of shots on goal in the first 15 minutes, stunning the home crowd, but failed to find a great finish that could beat the Arsenal keeper Almunia.
Arsenal too had their chances, and Van Persie was the target man and had a great shot tipped over the bar by Schwarzer, who played excellently all game. The real Fulham victory though was in the Midfield. Danny Murphy again led by example with good passing and control. He linked up well with the ever improving Etuhu, who showed that his performance against West Brom was no fluke against mediocre opponents. Demsey had a good game also, and passed the ball well while looking threatening in the home side's penalty area. Simon Davies played with much more energy than recent games, coming back and ably helping with defending when the need arose. The back four where on their game at The Emirates Stadium, frustrating the Arsenal attack over and over again, Hangeland and Hughes continuing their solid partnership in the Central Defence. When Pantsil got his yellow card last time out and wasn't allowed to play, I'm sure Fulham fans all thought that right back would be where Arsenal would find a weakness and make a breakthrough. Chris Baird, who never settled in that role under Sanchez, had a very good first half, linking up well with Northern Ireland team mate Hughes, and making the odd attacking run and pass on the right wing to boot. It was unfortunate that he picked up an injury just before the half time whistle and had to be replaced by Freddy Stoor.
Dickson Etuhu and Gallas in midfield battle.
Arsenal looked like the break had helped, and had the better of the play in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, with Van Persie making some threatening forays into the Fulham defence. Hangeland and Hughes guided the back four to a resolute display, making some vital tackles. Van Persie had a good opportunity and headed the ball in, but it clipped the woodwork and into safety. Arsenal's second substitution brought on Eboue, who looked increasingly threatening, making Konchesky really work hard, and it has to be said, having the better of him at times. An Eboue pass in led to the best chance of the game for The Gunners, but with amazing reflexes, Schwarzer somehow kept Diaby's ball out of the net. The final 10 minutes saw The Cottagers play "keep away" with the ball, showing off some impressive passing and ball retention. A couple of last minute efforts by both sides ended with no score, and Fulham left North London with a well deserved point. It was a shame that, after such a positive display, they couldn't find that first elusive away win.
As for the Superfulham 3 stars.... The whole team played well, with the possible exception of Stoor who needs to shake off some rust; but before that, some honourable mentions. Chris Baird had a great 1st half, and has really improved his game since being the fans' least favourite player last season. If he had continued on, he may well have earned a star. Aaron Hughes had a great performance with Hangeland in defence, and both show that this is a solid partnership. Davies showed what he can do when he puts his heart into it, and Zamora fed the ball to Johnson with expertise and his work rate saw him at both ends of the pitch. These are my top three
* Mark Schwarzer. Some great saves and all round dependable Goalkeeping.
** Dickson Etuhu. Solid as a rock in Midfield with some superbly timed tackles and counter-attacks
*** Danny Murphy. Here with 3 stars again. Wonderful accurate passing, there in defence, harrying the attackers and then at the other end feeding the attack. Played particularly well with Etuhu, controlling the Midfield against an 'on-paper' better Arsenal middle four.
Superfulham Man of the Match - Danny Murphy
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