Fulham 2 Arsenal 1
A Goal a piece from Brian McBride and Tomasz Radzinski earned Fulham a well deserved three points against Arsenal.
To add to their woes they also had Philippe Senderos sent off for two bookings.
ulham started the match with gusto and forced two early corners as Arsenal struggled to cope with the surging runs of Luis Boa Morte and Radzinski.
If Arsene Wenger’s side were dazed they certainly had a rude awakening when McBride put Fulham in front in the sixth minute.
The former American international climbed highest in the box to head in from Claus Jensen’s corner kick. Jens Lehmann got a hand to the ball but was helpless in preventing McBride from scoring his fourth goal of the season in his 100th league game for Fulham.
Radzinski then squandered another chance as Fulham looked to exploit a shaky Arsenal defence. Liam Rosenior underlined his future potential by slotting in at left-back and linking-up well with Boa Morte. The Portugal international’s cross was perfect for Radzinski, but he could not apply the finish from ten yards.
The Canada international made amends though moments later to put Fulham two goals in front with only 19 minutes played.
Boa Morte was again the creator, relishing the opportunity to rub salt into the wounds of his former club. This time he turned Alexandre Song inside out before crossing for Radzinski to head in from close range.
Arsenal regained some composure as Aleksandr Hleb and Tomas Rosicky tried to find a way through. However, they found a resilient paring in Rosenior and Mortiz Volz who were both strong and fair with their tackling.
But just as Arsenal believed there were beginning to get back into the game, Boa Morte provided a timely reminder of their defensive frailties. Referee Howard Webb waved play on to allow the Fulham skipper to race clear but his final effort was well saved by Lehmann.
A third goal would have killed the game and Boa Morte was made to pay for his miss when van Persie reduced Arsenal’s deficit with a sumptuous free-kick from 25 yards out. The Dutchman curled his effort with his left boot which sailed past Antti Niemi, who until that moment had little else to do.
Lehmann was by far the busiest of the two goalkeepers and, on the stroke of half-time, he pulled off a good save at the near post to deny McBride from adding to his tally.
Wenger introduced Cesc Fabregas after the interval to add some creativity into Arsenal’s midfield. It almost paid instant dividends too as Thierry Henry put the ball into the back of the net, only for his effort to be ruled out as he had strayed into an offside position.
Arsenal’s hopes of getting level, however, took a serious dent when Senderos underlined another below-par performance by getting himself sent off. The Swiss defender, who had been cautioned in the first half, lunged haplessly at Boa Morte leaving referee Webb little option but to flash a second yellow card in his direction.
Arsenal were almost forced to pay two-fold, as Boa Morte took the resulting free-kick which struck the crossbar before being cleared.
Wenger had another throw of the dice and brought on Theo Walcott just after the hour mark and the England youngster almost levelled the score, only for his effort to strike the post.
Both teams had chances at the death but it will be Arsenal who will be licking their wounds.
Spurs will face a different Arsenal at the weekend and I am sure that the Arsenal will want to bounce back with a thumping win against the ol enemy, but as Arsenal lost against Bolton at the weekend you would have thought that about tonights game, on this performance perhaps Spurs could get something from the game.
I love a north London derby!
Fulham trounce sorry Arsenal.
Fulham 2 Arsenal 1