Fulham 0 Arsenal 1: Thirty-seven down - One to go!

Last updated : 09 May 2004 By Brian Dawes

Reyes celebrates his goal
Those present included Father Christmas, The Queen, Superman, Ali G, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Musketeers, more Musketeers, Skoobie-Doo, A Red Cardinal, a Nun, a Vicar, Snow White, some natty French Onion salesmen who’d sold out, a lot of Mexicans, Punks and Rod Stewart. Fergusmoan was there to wave a white flag, ok white hankie, The Grim Reaper showed up as did a chinaman, Virgil from Thunderbirds, some dogs, some glam S & M fans, a cat, Austin Powers, some Arabs, Ali Baba, silly hats, silly wigs and loads, loads more. My favourites were a Gorilla wearing Keown’s shirt and a Horse wearing a United shirt with Cheat 10 on its back. You just had to be there. Prior to kick off there where loads of red and white beach balls which drove the stewards mad for most of the match, there were at least eight on top of the net before the game started. The giant yellow banana remained bouncing around in the lower tier.

Arsenal where in their yellow away kit and Fulham were also in fancy dress, sporting a pale blue shirt and white shorts, which I guess is their away kit for next season. It made their ‘come on you whites’ chant seem a bit dumb though. Pires joined Reyes and Parlour in the fairly predictable starting line up as Arsenal carried on with what seems like a series of end of season training sessions to test out our defence. ‘Chelsea wherever you may be - you ain’t got no history – Lampard’s fat and the rest are queer – and they haven’t won the League for 49 years’ was song of the day

Going forward we weren’t always overly bothered, we tried up to a degree but lacked the total urgency of a vital game. We did give it a reasonable go however and Fulham, when they were allowed to, certainly had a go. We survived an early scare but soon took charge, our first major attack being Freddie versus Van Der Sar, which the Dutchman won. ’71 – 2001’ ‘We won the League at White Hart lane’ Inamoto was the first to dive for Fulham but Boa Morte took the biscuit as he failed to stay on his feet for the entire game. Jens caught a ball which was given as a corner – no way did he step backwards, one of numerous poor calls. Reyes and Cole did brilliantly down our left; the new boy is coming on and is showing loads of promise. His enthusiastic chasing down on keepers finally paid off as he stole the ball from a very embarrassed Van Der Sar, Jose then had an empty net to aim at, thank you very much, 0-1 to the Arsenal and two in two games for the new boy. ‘Jose Antonio’

Pat ran off up the tunnel as we scored but soon came back on. Malbranque, who for me was their biggest threat, blasted over a free kick. Arsenal looked class, we’ve figured how to win with our foot off the gas but this may have something to do with teams being scared shitless of us even at half throttle. Great save by Jens from Boa Morte as we eased off just a tad too much. Parlour did well to win a ball on the edge of our area and soon after Malbranque whizzed one past Lehmann’s near post, but Jens had it covered as he dived across. Reyes and Pires combined well as Arsenal started to press once more. Great cross by Volz. ‘One man went to laugh, went to laugh at Chelsea’ A theatrical dive by Boa Morte was made worse by his staying down.

Van der Sar - 'What the f*** have I just done?'
Vieira was in majestic mode, and just how many times have I said that this season? Pires hit a cross for Cole, which might have resulted in an own goal rather than a corner. Crap far too deep corner from Henry ‘What the fecking hell was that?’ Stack was warming up as Lewin checked on Jens. Pires to Lauren for a decent cross. Jens saved from Inamoto at his near post. Quite an entertaining match really, certainly more cut and thrust at this stage. Sol cleared superbly but was fouled anyway. Kolo cool under pressure, he’s also making good judgement calls nowadays about when to play and when to take no chances or prisoners. Pat to Ray, to Freddie for a rather wild shot.

We looked a tad too deep as we approached half time but Rob, Ashley, Thierry and Cole again combined well to win another corner. Thierry hit this one too deep as well, to a chant of '‘You’ll never play for Fulham'. Half time and its not often you pass an elephant, Superman and Little Red Riding Hood on the way to the slowest fast food stall in the Premiership.

Arsenal attacked the Gooners’ end for the second half but were caught offside for both our opening attacks. ‘ArseneWenger’sRedArmy’. Cole broke up an attack as Clichy, Aliadiere and Keown warmed up, seemingly Martin had changed out of his Gorilla’s outfit. Boa Morte was on a break that Campbell cleared, Sol is just so good I take him for granted most matches, he is seriously dependable. Mike Dean the ref was doing his best for Fulham with a series of Joke free kicks and a bit of big name booking to boost his ego. Vieira picking up a card that was unwarranted in an end of season game. Boa Morte blasted over from this particular free kick. Malbranque, that man again, had an overhead scissors kick that sailed over the bar.

Great cross from Freddie. McBride and John came on for Inamoto and Djetou, but they were only in time to admire some more slick Arsenal play. Jens held a driven cross but for all Fulham’s huffing and puffing there was no killer threat and from Arsenal we seemed to be a yard away from many a final killer ball as with Vieira to Henry’s almost ball. And then Pat to Freddie, another ‘almost’ ball. The lino then missed a handball on a break for the yellows.

Cole and Pires played some tidy one-twos and Dean bagged his second big booking when he gave a yellow to that evil hatchet man called Henry. Another fine attack included Henry, Ljungberg and Vieira who found Reyes who could only find the side netting. The 4th. official failed to work the board so Aliadiere had a long wait to replace Reyes. McBride shot wild and wide. Legwinski had a shat deflected by Cole for a corner, one of their better efforts. Henry had some tasty solos late on but it was the flash stuff rather than the killer touch, beautiful to watch nether-the-less.

Keown - Sub appearance as a right-winger
Jens came miles out to win a ball and make a decent pass. A good ball inside to Volz who fired low across goal past our far post. Clichy replaced Pires and showed us that he’ll be pressing for a starting line-up next season. Ray continued to win ball well in midfield, one such putting Thierry and Jeremie away. Another Boa Morte solo ended with Legwinski firing over. Pat was penalised with another crap decision. Parlour won a great ball but was penalised; he slammed the ball into the ground in disgust and was booked for dissent. Dean was pants!

Malbranque hit our wall then hit row Z to a chorus of ‘Oh Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny Wilkinson’. Martin came on for Freddie to his usual tumultuous applause. Henry at last won a free kick after umpteen had not been given. Further dissent by Pearce meant the ball was moved forward into Henry’s free kick range, but Van Der Sar made a great save to tip it over. There were three minutes added time during which Dean remained consistently crap to the end. Full time and another away shirt has gone unbeaten for an entire League season. That’s two in three seasons!

Whose turn is it to bring Champagne next week is the only pressing decision left for Gooners, that and which Champions T-shirt to buy. That’s an incredible thirty-seven down and just the one to go now. The road show is over and I’ve loved every mile of it. History beckons at Highbury, Leicester just couldn’t possibly spoil it – could they?