FULHAM 2-1 ARSENAL
WTTGT Reporter: Tashan Deniran-Alleyne
A dramatic winner from Bobby Zamora clinched all three points for Fulham over a ten man Arsenal as the gunners were made to rue the sending off of Johan Djourou as they began 2012 with a defeat in the London derby.
Arsenal made two changes to the team who beat QPR two days ago with Francis Coquelin taking the place of the injured Thomas Vermaelen at left back and Gervinho starting ahead of Andrei Arshavin.
Gervinho had the first chance of the game after barely a minute, firing over from the edge of the box after Theo Walcott’s right-wing cross. The Ivorian spurned another opportunity after failing to hit the target from close range after getting on the end of Robin van Persie’s corner.
Fulham’s Bobby Zamora brought out a decent save from Wojciech Szczesny after Mikel Arteta had been dispossessed in midfield. John Arne Riise got in behind the visitors defence but failed to pick out a pass, and Brede Hangeland headed over from Danny Murphy’s free-kick.
Arsenal then took the lead through Koscielny after Aaron Ramsey’s cross found the Frenchman who headed in his first goal of the season. The gunners almost doubled their lead moments later but were denied by the very good goalkeeping of David Stockdale as he pulled off a fabulous save to deny Ramsey.
Bryan Ruiz went close for the hosts following an excellent run shrugging off a couple of challenges before seeing his effort go just wide.
Both teams had a few half chances before half-time but it was the visitors who went in at the break with a well deserved one goal lead.
Fulham, looking for an equaliser started the second half on the front foot but their final ball was often a letdown, Steven Sidwell saw his long range effort go just over the bar. Szczensny then flapped at a corner allowing former Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos to head just wide.
The cottagers almost equalised after Ruiz’s cross was met at the far post by Clint Dempsey but the American’s header dropped wide of the post. Another chance fell to the home side as the ball broke to Ruiz in the penalty area but his strike was too close to Szczensny who made a good reaction save to deny the forward.
Arsenal’s tasks was made even harder as they were reduced to ten men after Djourou was adjudged to have brought down Bobby Zamora on the edge of the box and was shown a second yellow card.
With five minutes to go Fulham’s pressure was rewarded as Sidwell headed an equaliser after Szczesny failed to collect a corner and Senderos helped the ball back into the area for the midfielder to head home.
Deep into injury time Zamora completed the turnaround as substitute Sebastien Squillaci’s attempted headed clearance dropped to the feet of the striker who volleyed past Szczensy to deny Arsenal a point.
The loss has brought Arsenal down to fifth in the table, with Chelsea a point clear in fourth while sixth placed Liverpool take on Manchester City knowing a win would take them past the Gunners.
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