Arsenal Edged Fulham at Craven Cottage to Hang on to Top Four.

Arsenal After the Per Mertesacker's Goal.
Arsenal After the Per Mertesacker’s Goal.

Arsenal edged an overbearing Fulham at Craven Cottage after a first- half goal from Per Mertesacker made all the difference of the day.
It was an uneventfull first 10 minutes that saw very few scoring opportunities as both clubs were gauging the pace of the match, things quickly escalated. In the 12th minute Fulham‘s midfielder Steve Sidwell got his matching order for a dangerous challenge on Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal looked like they’ve taken control of the match from that moment as they kept play in the Cottager’s half. But it was Fulham who had the first golden scoring chance on a quick counterattack. Dimitar Berbatov got off a good strike on the break; however Wojciech Szcesny was up to the task.
The Gunners had their first ultimate chance of the match about 10 minutes into the half- time. Olivier Giroud unleashed a low shot that beat Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer but struck the post.
Few minutes later Szczesny made a save on an Urby Emmanuelson’s effort to keep it scoreless.
Arsenal goal came in the 43rd minute courtesy of Per Mertesacker. A Theo Walcott free kick found Laurent Koscielny, who sent it across goal to Mertesacker and it was headed home. The referee blew the half- time whistle but the Gunners were happy to have gone ahead.
The Gunners came out in the second half and were perfectly pleased to control possession, slowing down the pace in the process. Neither side generated more than a few fleeting moments of pressure until the final 15 minutes.
It appeared Fulham had leveled at one in the 77th minute when Stanislav Manolev slipped a rebound past Szczesny, but the linesman had raised the offside flag to preserve Arsenal’s narrow lead.
The Cottagers pressed forward in search of an equaliser but the Arsenal defense made things difficult for them and they couldn’t break through. Olivier Girould got sent off in the 90th minute and things got more intense.
A couple of corner kicks before an additional four minutes couldn’t hold the Gunners from doing away with a crucial three points; hence keep alive the hopes of a top four finish.