Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Gunners third following Fulham win

Per Mertesacker, bottom, scored the opening goal of the game just before the break for Arsenal

Arsenal moved back up to third in the Barclays Premier League table as they edged past Fulham 1-0 at Craven Cottage with both sides finishing with 10 men.

Fulham could count themselves unfortunate not to have taken at least a point having battled gamely following the early sending off of midfielder Steve Sidwell - just back from a three-match suspension - for a late sliding tackle on Mikel Arteta. Arsenal, though, failed to make the most of their man advantage after going ahead just before half-time through a close-range header from Per Mertesacker.

Referee Andre Marriner then brandished the red card again on 90 minutes when he sent off Olivier Giroud for jumping into a challenge on Stanislav Manolev, although replays showed the France striker did get a foot on the ball first.

Fulham, well beaten 3-0 here by west London rivals Chelsea in midweek, started brightly, and Arteta had to cut out a dangerous cross from Urby Emanuelson. At the other end, Giroud played in Theo Walcott, who finished well past Mark Schwarzer, but the offside flag was already up.

Fulham were reduced to 10 men on 13 minutes when Sidwell went in late on Arteta, catching the Arsenal midfielder on his ankle which resulted in referee Marriner going straight for a red card.

Slowly, the visitors built up a spell of pressure and they were ahead three minutes before the break. Eyong Enoh fouled Aaron Ramsey conceding a free-kick some 35 yards out on the right.

Walcott floated the ball into the box, and Laurent Koscielny headed it back across the face of goal, where German centre-half Mertesacker arrived unmarked to nod in from a yard out.

Referee Marriner was at the centre of controversy again at the start of the second half when he showed Arteta a yellow card after Emanuelson went down following a quick break, with replays suggesting it was a dive by the Dutchman.

To their credit, Fulham continued to press Arsenal rather than just sit back. However, Dimitar Berbatov was offered little support with Bryan Ruiz forced into a deeper role.

Arsenal also finished with 10-men after Giroud was shown a red card after he clattered into Manolev.

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