Arsenal played another wild match today, particularly the second half, when both sides played direct and open and things were a little careless. A 3-3 draw may be a fair result on the day, but it won't lessen the sting for Arsenal supporters who yet again saw some pretty loose defending and loose touches go punished.
Fulham looked the better for the first five minutes, but gradually, Arsenal gathered themselves and produced a couple of attacks, Olivier Giroud firing over the bar on seven minutes when he should have waited, and Theo Walcott crossing tantalizingly into the middle. Kieran Richardson tried to set up Dimitar Berbatov, but the latter was offside, and then Arsenal found the opener on 11 minutes. Walcott's corner was won after a good pass from Francis Coquelin, and the right winger swung in a beautiful corner, which Olivier Giroud fought for and blasted in with his head.
1-0 to the Arsenal, 11 minutes in.
The game sort of fizzled a bit, Arsenal struggling to find possession in attacking areas. 21 minutes in, Kieran Richardson was giving chase up the left, but his hamstring failed him, and he had to exit. While Fulham were getting reset after the substituion, Santi Cazorla played a through ball which John Arne Riise deflected into the path of Mikel Arteta. He was able to take an extra touch toward goal and square the ball across the six-yard box to Lukas Podolski, who flicked it home with his left foot.
2-0 to the Arsenal, 23 minutes in.
It looked like it should've all been simple to maintain the lead, but after a good tackle from Francis Coquelin, Laurent Koscielny gave the ball away, which led to a Fulham corner. It was a corner that Arsenal didn't defend particularly well, and Berbatov floated off of Bacary Sagna to power a header home.
2-1 to the Arsenal, 29 minutes in.
The game really didn't have much on for quite some time until, well, until it did, out of nowhere, again. Berbatov made a good run diagonally to the right and latched on to a through ball. He cut back a floated cross, which Alexander Kacaniklic--who had come on for Richardson earlier, and who Arsenal completely ignored here--headed from fully 14 yards, Vito Mannone getting hand to it, but unable to keep it out. It was poor defending to let Berbatov in so easily, but Mannone really could have done more to keep out the header.
2-2, 40 minutes in.
Fulham would come close to making it more interesting just as halftime arrived. Riise was played through up the left, and had an inviting cross on for Ashkan Dejagah, who tried to backheel it home, fluffed it a bit, Per Mertesacker on hand to make sure Berbatov couldn't poke home the loose ball.
Halftime arrived to a chorus of boos in the Emirates. The half had been a weird one, very quiet in between the four goals.
The second half started pretty slowly, although Giroud had a chance at a header from a Walcott cross 51 minutes in, but it was inches too high. Theo made a good run off a 1-2 with Giroud 55 minutes in, but his left-footed shot missed by a couple feet.
Aaron Ramsey replaced Coquelin. 59 minutes in, there was a bit of controversy as Steve Sidwell caught Cazorla coming through on goal, and for a second it looked as if Dowd was going to book Sidwell a second time, but he actually booked Ramsey for an earlier foul and simply warned Sidwell. But, you know: Phil Dowd.
The game trundled along until Fulham pressed hard in the 67th minute. Bryan Ruiz stole the ball away from Mikel Arteta in Arsenal's penalty area, and Arteta brought him down. Penalty to Fulham.
Berbatov converted. 2-3 to Fulham, 67 minutes.
Walcott had a shot a minute later that Schwarzer saved well. A minute later, Giroud was played through on goal as Arsenal pushed for a leveler. His shot hit the far post, but bounced free to Walcott on the right, and he took his time, lined up a cross for Giroud, and this time, the Frenchman didn't miss with his head.
3-3. 69 minutes.
The game opened up after the equalizer, both sides now playing open throttle all the way. Berbatov was nearly clean through on 76 minutes, but Koscielny was able to recover and tackle at the last minute. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Podolski on 77 minutes.
Giroud went HAM and nearly scored, Mark Schwarzer palming the shot away. Arsenal had a succession of corners before Fulham countered dangerously, Koscielny and Chamberlain working to snuff it out at the last minute on 82 minutes. Andrei Arshavin replaced the limping Walcott on 85 minutes. Giroud had a header opportunity, maybe a tricky one, on 90 minutes, but put it wide.
There would be four minutes of stoppage. Arteta volleyed from a corner, but it was blocked on 91:30.
Then madness happened. Phil Dowd awarded a penalty to Arsenal as an Arhsavin cross hit the arm of Sascha Riether, probably unfairly. Nonetheless, there it was, a chance to win on the last kick of the game. Arteta stepped up, ran up, and took a bad penalty. Schwarzer saved it, and the game was over.
3-3. 16 points from 11. Next up: Tottenham.