I should mention that I didn’t watch or listen to the match, neither did I follow it live on twitter, although I followed the BBC live text somewhat. I’ve just watched MotD highlights, so at the moment, that’s all I’ve got to work on, so apologies if I miss anything glaringly obvious, or if the highlights didn’t capture the real nature of the match.
Coming into this match, we had high hopes. Fulham had never beaten us at home, in any competition, so even though it was a London Derby, we didn’t have too much to be worried about, other than ourselves, and what sort of performance we put on. And with a flying Dutchman in our ranks, scoring goals is nowhere near the top of the list of things to improve on. Actually, it should be the top of the list for Gervinho, as his finishing of late… Anyways, I digress. We came into the match with reasonable expectations of winning, continuing our amazing run.
From what I’ve gathered, the first half pretty much was a snooze-fest, with someone even saying something along the lines of it being the worst half of football they ever watched. We did have one or two chances in the half, though. Arshavin had the ball in the net, but the flag had already gone up. Don’t know if that counts as a chance technically… It was mainly half-chances, Ramsey blazing over one time, but Fulham defended resolutely. I doubt they ‘parked the bus’, as that doesn’t strike me as a Fulham thing, but they did try to make it difficult for us to score, as they should! And they had their chances too, with Szczesny having to pull of a top save towards the end of the first half.
But all in all, it was a pretty drab first half, and luckily for some, the half time whistle eventually came!
As usual, and to be expected, after a dodgy first half, we turned up in the second half a bit better than the first, although nowhere near our fluent self, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise to me to find out that Fulham took the lead. Courtesy of an own-goal. By Vermaelen. You know we must have been playing nowhere near our best for an own goal to be scored by Tommy V! The own goal didn’t surprise me, but the scorer did, although like most of the own goals we’ve conceded, it was pretty unfortunate.
But I like what we did afterwards. We piled the pressure. It might not have been working before their goal, but as soon as they scored, we somehow found it in us to up the ante. You’d argue that we should have done this BEFORE they scored, but we could easily have put the towel in and gone, “oh we’ll, today’s not out day”. After the goal, Arsene made couple of subs, Per and Ramsey going off for Diaby and Gervinho. And with Kos still on the bench, Song had to go into CB duty. Chamakh came on for Arshavin less than 10 minutes later. The goal though, had sparked us into action, and Mark Schwarzer really had to earn his corn, making good saves! There was a really good one from a Djourou header. That would have been a very good goal. Someone needed to tell him that the auditions are over, we are no longer in the market for a goalie!
The pressure eventually told, and we equalised, through none other than Tommy V! Eventful day eh, Tommy? I always love it when players make costly mistakes, but find a way to make up for it before the end of the match. Could easily have sulked, but he put in even more effort than usual- and you can’t accuse Tommy of never giving enough- and got another goal, this time at the other end of the pitch. Wasn’t a flashy or spectacular goal or anything, just a downward header from a Theo cross, 8 minutes from time. Mistake rectified.
More pressure on the Fulham goal, but we couldn’t make it count, and we eventually ran out of time. Full time, 1-1. I was really sure we’d win, before kick-off, then at some point during the match, I was really worried we’d lose! But we ended up in between, with a draw. 2 points lost or 1 point gained? I guess time will tell, but I take the view that it could so easily have been 3 lost, so I’ll take the 1 point, thanks. Would have proffered all 3, obviously, but you can’t win all of your matches, so I draw will just have to do, sometimes. And like I tweeted, we didn’t lose. I don’t remember what a loss feels like anymore, and I’m glad the team didn’t remind me today. We’re unbeaten in how many games now? Let’s keep this run going, please.
I wish I could talk about stand-out performances today (other than Tommy V of course!), but I really can’t. Shout-out to Song though, having to play 2 different positions in one match. Aren’t you glad that Cameroon didn’t qualify for the African Cup of Nations? No need to worry about losing Mr Versatile-Awesome for an extended period. Fingers crossed the injury-gods don’t get to him! I heard Ramsey was delivering some gorgeous balls today. Shame no goals came from any, but at least they led to chances. Always a good thing. Oh, and Jack, too. He might be out of sight on the pitch what with him being injured, but he’s ensured that he’s not out of mind, whether it’s having a bet with Spurs fans that he’ll donate £3,000 to charity if they finish above us this season, or asking for donations outside the Ems with a charity bucket. Top lad. Future captain? Definitely got it in him.
Moving on from today though- there’s really no point in being negative about not managing to beat Fulham at home, and almost giving them a helping hand in beating us- massive game coming up on Tuesday. Not in terms of the competition- it’s the Carling Cup, and although it’d be nice to win it, I won’t shed a tear if we got knocked out- but in terms of the opposition. We’ve got City at home, in case you aren’t aware. The match is sold out, so should be a good atmosphere. Will probably be the Carling Cup team with a bit of first-teamers, but let’s give them a game, shall we? Can’t wait for it to unfold!
Gotta go to bed now, though. Be safe guys, and here’s hoping our unbeaten run continues past Tuesday!