The Belgian defender could only look on in dismay after he opened the scoring at the wrong end slicing an attempted clearance from Danny Murphy’s pass ended up in his own net. He rectified his misdemeanour though heading past Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal to earn the Gunners a point in what proved to be a lacklustre tea-time contest that failed to get going. Both sides had opportunities to score throughout the game but shoddy finishing and some excellent goalkeeping from Schwarzer keeping the score at bay. Arsene Wenger will be disappointed that his side failed to beat the lowly Cottagers who showed plenty of fighting spirit with their disciplined approach stifling the attacking qualities of the Arsenal side. Martin Jol, on the other hand, will have been extremely pleased by his sides display as they travelled back to the Thames with a well earned point under their belts.The Gunners could have closed in on the top four with a win which many were expecting them to achieve after tasting victory in their last five games.
It was the home side who started the better with Andriy Arshavin having a goal ruled out for offside with just four minutes on the clock whilst Aaron Ramsey was denied by Schwarzer after a flowing move involving Robin Van Persie and Alex Song. The Welsh midfielder had another chance in the 24th minute firing well over after some excellent wok from Theo Walcott on the wing. The England winger was a peripheral figure for much of the game but did manage to force a save from Schwarzer in the 26th minute as Arsenal threatened to take full control. Fulham have been poor on the road over the last year or so and they barely made a peep in the first forty five minutes with Moussa Dembele’s fizzing 20-yard effort proving to be their best opportunity. Brede Hangeland headed a corner wide before Dembele forced Wojciech Szczesny after taking advantage of some sloppy Gunners defending.
A vast amount of improvement was needed from the hosts and they almost snatched the lead through Van Persie who worked himself into space before seeing his curling strike headed off the line by Chris Baird. It proved to be a vital intervention as the visitors took the lead on 65 minutes courtesy of Vermaelen’s own goal. The Belgian’s sliced clearance somehow ended up in his own net as he tried to clear Murphy’s pass to John Arne Riise after it bounced off the Fulham defenders chest. The prospect of leaving their first ever win at the Emirates seemed to wake the Cottagers up with the outstanding Schwarzer keeping them ahead with a brilliant save from Johan Djourou’s header. However he was beaten with eight minutes to go and it was Vermaelen who made the breakthrough making up for his own goal by heading in Walcott’s right wing cross to earn the Gunners a point that moves them above Liverpool into sixth.