Arsenal 4 Fulham 0

Last updated : 09 May 2010 By Footymad Previewer
Arsenal cruised to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Fulham to clinch third place and automatic qualification into the Champions League.

Goals from Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie, an own goal from Chris Baird and a delightful chip by Carlos Vela were enough to dismiss a largely disinterested Fulham, although it did not start that way.

With just one win in their last eight matches, and north London rivals Spurs waiting to take advantage of another slip, the Gunners could not afford to relax on the last day of the season.

Fulham on the other hand, with a trip to Hamburg on their minds, were able to rest a host of first-choice players. Roy Hodgson's side however did not show any early signs that they would lay down.

Perhaps with places up for grabs for this Wednesday's Europa Cup Final, the Cottagers were making a game of it.

There were some early moments of anxiety for the Gunners, principally when Lukasz Fabianski failed to deal with a cross convincingly, sparking shouts of "Wenger spend some money".

Van Persie looked sharp at the other end. His inswinging free-kick from the right tested Mark Schwarzer who managed to parry the ball to safety just before the balled dipped into the net. Samir Nasri also tested the Australian keeper, who pushed the effort around his right post.

The Fulham number one went from hero to villain moments later though. He came out to meet a back-pass and mis-controlled the ball allowing Arshavin to nip in and steal possession.

The Russian cut in to the left side of the area before firing in a shot from an acute angle with the defenders on the line unable to prevent the powerful shot from finishing in the back of the net.

The Gunners went 2-0 up in the 26th minute when an Emmanuel Eboue pass beat the offside trap allowing Theo Walcott to leave a flat-footed defence in his wake before squaring the ball for van Persie.

The Dutch striker's first shot was half-saved by Schwarzer, but the ball bounced back off the bottom side of the bar for van Persie to calmly place the ball beyond the grounded keeper. Fulham's heads visibly dropped.

Baird's own goal in the 38th minute made it 3-0 to Arsenal. Eboue's back-flick from Walcott's cross threw the Fulham defence into disarray. With van Persie bearing down on goal, Baird stuck a leg out and inadvertently directed the ball past his own keeper.

Another Eboue back-flick from van Persie's pass put Walcott in on goal, but the World Cup hopeful failed to test the keeper when through on goal on the right side of the area and he dragged his shot wide of the left post.

The Gunners went close to going 4-0 up just four minutes after the re-start when Bacary Sagna's cross from the right was met on the volley by van Persie but Schwarzer spread himself well to make a point-blank save. The rebound fell to the Dutchman whose snap-shot hit the left post before bouncing away to safety.

Carlos Vela came off the bench to make it 4-0 in the 84th minute. The Mexican ran on to Nasri's throughball before lifting the ball over the oncoming keeper to secure the win and third place.