When I saw the lineups for today's match I wasn't surprised by the starting team. It was a similar lineup that Fulham used against West Ham. In a couple of matches this lineup was able to play pretty well. That certainly was not the case today. Fulham lose to Arsenal badly 4 - 0 at the Emirates Stadium. I know Fulham were resting many players today. I was just hoping the score would be a little closer. The credit though has to go to Arsenal. They played great today and the score could have been worse.
The first several minutes of the match I was actually encouraged by the play of Fulham. They seemed to be holding their own. Actually, they had a great opportunity in the 7th minute. Bjorn Helge Riise sent in a nice free kick into the penalty box. Clint Dempsey had a chance to get to the ball was unsuccessful.The ball was loose for a little while. However, Fulham coud not take advantage of this early opportunity.
Arsenal would have an early opportunity of their own. In the 9th minute, Robin van Persie took a shot off of a free kick that is nicely fingertipped saved by Mark Schwarzer. At this early time of the match the score was still 0 - 0.
That would change in the 21st minute. Mark Schwarzer is an excellent goalkeeper. He doesn't make mistakes too often. He did make a mistake which Andrei Arshavin capitalized on. Arshavin stole the ball away from Schwarzer. He got around the goalkeeper and shot it into the net past a diving john Pantsil to make the score 1 - 0.
It wouldn't take long for Arsenal to increase their lead. In the 26th minute, Theo Walcott coming into the box sends a pass to Robin van Persie. His shot is nicely saved by Mark Schwarzer. However, the ball bounces off of Schwarzer and hits the cross bar. The ball lands back to van Persie who puts it past Schwarzer. The score is now 2 - 0.
Arsenal were not done with scoring in the first half. However, this goal was courtesy of a Fulham player. In the 37th minute, Chris Baird hits the ball into the net . This play started with a cross from Theo Walcott. His pass ended up deflecting off of two players, before it landed to Baird, who kicked the ball into the Fulham net. The score was now 3 - 0. They actually should have been up 4 - 0. Theo Walcott had an excellent chance at a goal. His shot inside the box just went wide of the net.
Near the end of the half Fulham had one last chance to score. An Erik Nevland header just goes over the net. He was in the middle of the penalty box at the time. The half would end shortly afterwards with Arsenal winning 3 - 0 at the half.
Would Fulham be able to come back in the second half? The answer to that question would be "no". Also, the scariest part of the second half was that John Pantsil had to be replaced because of an injury. He was replaced in the 57th minute by Stephen Kelly. Let's hope this is not a serious injury. Fulham could really use him on Wednesday.
Fulham actually had an opportunity to score in the second half. In the 65th minute, Stefano Okaka sent a nice pass to Clint Dempsey who was rushing inside the box. Sol Campbell seemed to foul Dempsey inside the box. The referee did not call a penalty on Campbell. It was a questionable non - call.
Arsenal would actually score a fourth goal near the end of the game. In the 84th minute, Carlos Vela timed his run perfectly past the Fulham defense when he received the ball. This led to a beautiful chip that went over Schwarzer and into the net. Fulham were now down 4 - 0.
The game ended with the same score. Fulham lost to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium 4 - 0. Well, Fulham ended their season last year with a loss as well. This shouldn't take away from a good season. Fulham ended the season 12th with 46 points. Considering the amount of games they played I think 12th place is fine. If they win on Wednesday, I don't think many fans will be talking about the loss at the end of the season to Arsenal.
Now , it is time for Fulham and its fans to flip the page and get ready for the biggest game in the team's history. I can't wait for Wednesday!