Fulham 0 Arsenal 4: Four - But it could have been loads more!

Last updated : 05 March 2006 By Brian Dawes

Abu Diaby - Improving
The shed we were housed in resonated to the stamping of feet only partially to warm them on a cold winter’s day by the Thames. Most of the stamping was to match the ongoing songsters who were giving it large at The Cottage on a rare awayday when the boys in Redcurrent were doing the same.

Fulham kicked towards the Gooners in the first half but only rarely came within range of Jens Lehmann. ‘Stand up if you hate Tottenham’ ‘The W*nky Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope.. and this is what he said’ Our early play had all the hallmarks of an away day where we overplayed the passing to our hearts content but didn’t finish it off with a goal. ‘One-nil in the Bernabeu’.

Indeed in the first half an hour despite our continued pressure Fulham had a couple of shaky moments. One involving an iffy back-header that needed a fox in the box to pounce and a corner that Gilberto headed at the far post back across the face of goal. Boa Morte appeared to be their main threat but he couldn’t break the shackles of Eboue. This was generally a clean sporting contest apart from the odd dive by Radzinski. But Rob Styles was in charge so buying dives from Boa Morte was also the norm. ‘Mourinho is a fecking arsehole’. Well it makes a change from ‘Graham Poll’ and the Gooners were basically attempting to arouse the home fans, who had all been given large white foam hands to wave but quite simply had nothing to wave about.

The keeper headed clear from a long ball to Henry. Eboue to Henry with a peach of a long ball but the first touch was not quite the star-studded brilliance we are accustomed too. Brilliant stuff from Diaby who looks to be growing into his role with each game. He sometimes needs a bit more time than you get in the Premiership but he certainly looks to have what it takes. ‘Diaby we bought him from Auxerre, he’s every fecking where’. Styles the nothing ref gave Fulham a nothing free kick. Gilberto in well. Our moves were building in numerical pass completions and Diaby had a shot that was wide as Fulham pulled ten men back to cover. Freddie was called offside following a neat move from Hleb and Diaby. Hleb worked well today, turned players at will but also won a lot of tackles. Adebayor nearly through. Good ball in to Henry who blasted over. Jens took a high ball well before Henry over cooked it at the other end. We were well on top but still lacking the vital end product.

Fulham only ever pretended to threaten as when Jens had an easy save from a low shot. Kolo looked the part and was a rock at the back, while Philippe was also in control today. An away goal hardly seems inevitable these days but it came just after the half hour when Diaby put the main man away to fire a rocket into the roof of the net via the near post. 0-1 to Arsenal – great goal.

From here on in we were in total control. Fulham hardly had a sniff and we were seemingly ripping them apart at will. Freddie to Hleb to Adebayor who won a corner. Adebayor’s name is now sung with gusto to the same tune as the Pompey Chimes ‘Adebayor, Adebayor’ it scans well and sounds good to me. Freddie played a peachy ball inside the full back for Adebayor to latch onto and slip past Warner. So 0-2 to Arsenal and nothing less than we deserved. Two goals in four minutes had surely sealed the result. A long punt over Jen’s bar by Helguson was as near as Fulham got and it certainly wasn’t close. ‘Red Army’ as the one way traffic continued. Freddie was working his rocks off and did well to cover Radzinski on one occasion. Arsenal moves were flowing now although the odd Fulham counter happened they were hardly regarded as serious threats.

Henry got shirty with Elliott who was hanging on to his arm and shirt and in his annoyance flattened Radzinski who tried to stop Titi’s run. Styles had no idea what was going on of course. Two minutes added time, after which there was time enough for all the brass monkeys to applaud Arsenal all the way back to the quaint old cottage in the corner of the ground. Knight and Volz came close to blows as they left the field with Henry acting as peacemaker, but I’ve no idea what it was all about. Probably neither of them had enjoyed chasing shadows for forty-seven minutes.

The Arsenal attacked the goal behind which the travelling Gooners were assembled after the break. Well actually they blitzed it. Henry won a corner from a narrow angled shot from the left that could have been a goal. Three successive corners followed and we threatened from all of them. Fulham finally cleared their lines only to see Malbranque handle the ball. Hleb to Henry who couldn’t find the right pass for Freddie. Hleb then found Henry who should have shot but instead set up Adebayor who missed a total sitter. Henry to Freddie to Diaby who shot over. Helguson was caught offside in a rare Fulham break. ‘Arsene Wenger’s red and white army’ with foot stamping accompaniment.

A fabulous run by Henry who was now in overdrive put Hleb clear, but Warner blocked the shot. Eboue had a tasty cross held by the keeper. Henry to Diaby who somehow saw his shot cleared off the line by the keeper's foot as the ball flew along the face of goal. Helguson was replaced by Collins John who apart from one shot immediately disappeared into Flamini’s pocket. A Flamini cutback to Diaby was saved from point blank range. We could and should have been six up by now. Hleb to Henry who flicked it up and fired over in one slick movement.

Styles gave Fulham a free kick just to encourage them before he carded Diaby for a trip. The prat just can’t go a game without flashing a card can he? Adebayor replaced by the Dutch Master. The team were trying their hardest to set up Freddie but his one on one with the keeper from Henry’s killer ball was saved somehow. Jens had to save from Malbranque. Styles then watched as Hleb was held and fouled three times in the one run but ended up giving a free kick to Boa Morte. Chris, the guy standing to my left was in total agreement that there was only one word for Styles. So we told him as loudly as possible in no uncertain terms.

Henry - Bagged a pair
What should have been our seventh turned out to be our third - a great ball by Freddie set up Henry to calmly slip it past the keeper at the far post to make it 0-3 to Arsenal. ‘We can see you sneaking out’. Dennis to Titi to Freddie in a great move but no fox in the box for Freddie's cross. Hleb went off to a fine round of deserved applause and was replaced by Cesc. Freddie was clearly tripped on a run but the **** Styles wasn’t having any. Freddie with a great ball to Dennis but the mastercraftsman doesn’t have the legs anymore for a sprint. Henry to Cesc to Freddie in another fine move. A blinding run by Diaby as he slalomed his way through Fulham’s white shirts. Reyes replaced Henry and it sounded to me as if all four stands applauded the maestro off the pitch.

A Fulham shot was blocked and McBride followed up with a seriously crap effort. Flamini steamed into the box from his wide left slot, ran it along the goal line and cut an inviting ball back for Cesc to slot home our fourth. 0-4 to the Arsenal. ‘Are you watching Real Madrid’. Another great Freddie solo before Dennis was pulled back for a doubtful offside decision. A crap overhead effort from Malbranque and a pitiful air shot by John summed up Fulham’s day. Freddie at long last won a free kick that even Styles couldn’t miss this time. Time left for a rocket from Reyes and so ended yet another league victory over Fulham.

We could quite easily have had double figures today so Arsenal’s away form appears to be back in the groove.