Brade Hangeland scored as a lacklustre Arsenal side were defeated by Fulham in only the second match of the season.
Fulham started brightly as they were first to every ball and dominated the middle of park as Eboue and Denilson never got a look in. It was no surprise then they took the lead in the 21st minute as Brade Hangeland stabbed in at the near post from Jimmy Bullard’s corner, shrugging Gallas with ease. Arsenal had two good chances in the first half, Van Persie shooting wide and Adebayor headering on to the post from Sagna’s cross but that was the most closest Arsenal got to a goal and it was worse in the second half. No meaningful shots on goal, Adebayor shooting the first shot on target with six minutes to go.
Arsenal chose to start with Eboue and Denilson for the second match running in the middle of the park but neither got a look-in in the first half. In the second Denilson played alone in the centre in a diamond but never looked threating further up the field instead choosing to play in front of the defence and making sqaure passes. Arsenal were certainly missing the invention of Fabregas and even Song didn’t make it on the field until 80 minutes when he played centre back. Eboue made good runs in the second half but his inexperience playing in the middle showed as he was poor positionally and in the tackle.
Adebayor and Van Persie didn’t get much service and the best of Arsenal’s excuse for an attack came from the wings, mainly from Sagna who also had to provide a lot of help to the centre backs.
Wenger’s choice of substitutions were poor with Song coming on late and as a centre back when a midfielder was needed and neither the invention of youngsters Ramsey and Wilshere were taken advantantage of.
A new defensive midfielder is now a must if Arsenal must challenge for the title as none of the play was coming from the most crucial part of the pitch; the centre.
Arsenal: Almunia (6), Sagna (7), Toure (4) (Song Billong 77 (6)), Gallas (4), Clichy (6), Walcott (4) (Bendtner 65 (5)), Eboue (5), Denilson (4), Nasri (5), Adebayor (6), Van Persie (5).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Ramsey, Wilshere, Djourou, Gibbs.
Fulham: Schwarzer (6), Pantsil (7), Hughes (6), Hangeland (8), Kallio (7), Davies (7), Bullard (7), Murphy (7), Gera (7), Zamora (7), Ki-Hyeon (7).
Subs: Stockdale, Teymourian, Nevland, Stoor, Dempsey, Milsom, Baird.
Star man: Brade Hangeland– It was a team effort but Hangeland’s goal separated the teams and he marshalled the defence well.
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||1|
|4||Shots off Target||11|