To be honest this was a game we could quite honestly have gone without!
With a European Final on Wednesday it was almost as if the trip to the Emirates Stadium was an intrusion in our preparation. If there was ever a plausible case to forfeit the points I sincerely think we`d have been tempted.
But fixtures must be fulfilled or else this league of ours would be nothing more than a mockery. So it came as no surprise to us mere mortals that (Sir) Roy Hodgson chose to field a side so far removed from that which he`ll field on Wednesday that anything other than hoping for a result against Arsenal would be misplaced.
Arsene Wenger knew his team had to beat us to be sure they made the Champions League Group stages automatically; being piped by Spurs wasn`t in the selectable option boxes. It came as no surprise then to see Arsenal come out of the traps fast and as I predicted in my pre-match preview, the early goal I feared might open up the floodgates did just that.
Andrei Arshavin, having a subdued second half of the season was the instigator of our swift collapse from all-square, after twenty-one minutes, to being 3-0 down at half time. Goals from Robin van Persie and an own goal from Chris Baird added to the strike from the maverick Russian.
The second half was more civilized for those of us fearing a real mauling, in fact Fulham held out until the eighty-fourth minute before conceding a fourth from the lively Carlos Vela. But then again if they`d have scored five, six or seven I`m not sure I`d have noticed because for some strange reason I was dreaming of Hamburg on Wednesday night and our date with destiny!
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