The result was a lot better than the performance on Saturday April 20 when Arsenal snuck in and out of Craven Cottage and took three points from cross town rivals Fulham. An argument could be made that if Fulham didn’t have Steve Sidwell sent off in the 12th minute of play then points would have been dropped. He was sent off though, and a goal by Per Mertersacker in the 43rd minute was all the Gunners needed to hang on to a 1-0 win. Olivier Giroud leveled the playing field in the 90th minute when he was also sent off with a straight red.
Sidwell was given a red card by referee Andre Marriner after a late tackle on Mikael Arteta. It was the Fulham player’s first game back after sitting out three contests due to a previous red card. He’ll now be out of action for at least three more matches and possibly more due to his poor disciplinary record. The goal came after Aaron Ramsey was fouled by Eyong Enoh. Walcott took the free kick from about 35 yards out on the left and Laurent Koscielny got his head to it and forwarded the ball onto Mertersacker who was unmarked and simply had to head it into the net.
Fulham thought they had leveled the game with about 15 minutes left when Kieran Richardson took a free kick from about 20 yards out and keeper Wojciech Szczesny saved it, but pushed the ball right back into the path of Stanislav Manolev who deposited it into the goal, but was called offside. Giroud saw red when he went over the ball and made contact with Manolev and will now have to sit out three of the Gunners last four games.
There wasn’t much positive to take out of the match other than the score line as the win moves Arsenal into third place at least for now. They have 63 points with four games remaining while Chelsea has 61 points with six games to go and Spurs have 58 with six games left. Chelsea and Spurs have tough encounters on April 21 with Chelsea taking on Liverpool at Anfield and Spurs meeting Man City at home at White Hart Lane.
This was a far from impressive display by Arsenal today and if they continue to play this way they will drop points somewhere between now and the end of the season. A much better performance is needed next Sunday April 27 when they play Manchester United at home at the Emirates.
Arsenal Player Ratings Saturday, April 20 vs Fulham
Wojciech Szczesny 6.5
The keeper was there when needed, which was several times. However, he pushed a free kick right back into play only to see Manolev slam it in the net, but he was just offside
Bacary Sagna 6
Sagna didn’t really impress today in either end of the pitch, but since Arsenal won the match he gets a passing grade.
Per Mertesacker 6.5
Thankfully the big German was in position to head home a free kick for the game winner. He wasn’t too sharp in his own end though as Fulham were allowed way too much room on the break.
Laurent Koscielny 6
Another steady, but unspectacular performance. But a weak game defensively overall by the whole squad.
Nacho Monreal 5.5
For some reason Monreal is preferred to Gibbs by some people, but he just doesn’t have that much to offer. He’s overrated, which means he fits in well with the rest of today’s back four.
Mikel Arteta 6.5
A decent performance by Arteta, but that’s all. His passing was fine, but a rather pedestrian game overall.
Aaron Ramsey 7
Ramsey was arguably the Gunners best player. He displayed some energy in a rather lethargic game, but needs to stop the fouling.
Tomas Rosicky 6
Rosicky started to play well a few weeks ago, but then sat out due to injury. He had a steady game, but nothing too creative. Came off after 72 minutes for Lukas Podolski.
Santi Cazorla 5.5
Cazorla wasn’t on his game today and it was easy to see. The effort was there but the results weren’t. Was taken off late in added time and replace by Thomas Vermaelen.
Theo Walcott 5.5
If it wasn’t for his free kick which led to Mertersacker’s goal you might not have known Walcott was playing.His passing was atrocious, but service to him was poor. Was taken off after 71 minutes for Jack Wilshere.
Olivier Giroud 5
Giroud was sent off with a few minutes to go after going over the ball. It wasn’t intentional, but he had to pay for it all the same. He hit the post in the first half with a low shot that just eluded Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer. Will now have to sit out three of the last four games with a suspension.
Lukas Podolski 5.5
Came on after 72 minutes for Rosicky. Didn’t really have an impact the game at all.
Jack Wilshere 6.5
Came on after 71 minutes for Walcott. Wilshere played better than the previous couple of games and is improving with each outing since his return from injury.
Thomas Vermaelen NA
Came on for Cazorla to defend a corner kick in the last minute of added time.