Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fulham Take a Point from Arsenel

Traveling across town to the Emirates to take on Arsenel in years past might have been written off as three points lost by the Cottagers. But while Fulham aren't winning on the road, they aren't losing either. In two games against the Gunners this year, Fulham have taken four points. Today's 0-0 draw is another in a long line of draws for the Whites,

The 0-0 draw is Arsenel's fourth in a row in the Premier league. Fulham, on the other hand, are in the middle of a 8 games in four weeks run of games. Again, whilst Fulham's away form is nothing to particularly write home about, Fulham's organization and discipline on defending, coupled with a several fine saves from Mark Schwarzer (and a bit of help from the woodwork) have kept Fulham in a position to keep getting draws away from home. Sure, we are still not scoring goals, but if we aren't conceding goals either, it puts the Whites in a position to possibly nick three points on the road with a little luck.

Fulham was unlucky several times this game, with the run of play being clearly in Fulham's favor in the first half. Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora were creating openings and making life very difficult for the Arsenel back line. Zamora was taking shots from distance. The two strikers were pairing together, moving the ball around and finding seams to exploit Arsenel's apparent complacency on defense. Several good opportunities were created and Fulham were unlucky to not have come out of the first half with a goal.

Fulham were equally lucky to have kept Arsenel off the score sheet as well. Robin Van Persie had several great chances on crosses and corner kicks and Schwarzer has to make a great goal line save on a strong van Persie header early in the first half.

The second half found Arsenel with more of the attacking flow and Fulham were able to absorb the attack. Even with Arsenel's addition of Emmanuel Eboue and Nicklas Bendtner, Fulham were able to keep Arsenel from scoring.

Admittedly, Fulham played a fair amount of negative football, but it is not like Roy Hodgson put ten men behind the ball and prayed. There were some very creative counterattacks and Zamora and Johnson continued to make life difficult for the Gunners. But Arsenel couldn't crack the Fulham defense.

Fulham have conceded only 22 goals this season, only Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have conceded fewer goals. With that record, the fact that Fulham have only scored only 24 goals seems less important. Fulham have 34 points now in the league and it is looking like Fulham will be staying up, the magic number looks to be about 34 or 35 this eyar. They currently have a nine point leader on the drop zone and Fulham still have matches to play against cellar dwellers Stoke, Blackburn and Middlesbrough to go which if they win those, will ensure that Fulham will probably finish mid-table. There is an outside chance of European play next year. Wouldnt' that be a great change from relegation dogfights.

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