Martin Jol’s side were five minutes away from defeat after Laurent Koscielny’s first half header gave the visitors a deserved lead only for Sidwell to cancel that out with five minutes remaining. With the game looking destined to end level before Zamora’s volley in the last minute of added on time snatched an unlikely win for the Cottagers who continued their fine recent form. It was a bitter pill for Arsene Wenger to swallow as they failed to regain fourth spot in what was a must win game after Chelsea beat Wolves earlier in the day. Despite dominating the first forty five minutes the Gunners only had a goal to show for their efforts as the home side competing a miraculous turnaround after Johan Djourou’s sending off after the break.
In fact Arsenal should have been out of sight before the break as they looked to continue their impressive end to 2011 and were searching for consecutive wins in the space of 48 hours. Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey were particularly impressive for the visitors as they pulled the strings in midfield although their good work was often undone by poor finishing from their teammates in the final third. Theo Walcott and Gervinho were the main culprits although the latter was unlucky not to earn his side a penalty after being tripped by former Gunners defender Phillippe Senderos in the penalty area. It was no surprise when they did take the lead mid way through the half with Koscielny heading home a deflected cross from Ramsey before the Welshman almost doubled the lead only for David Stockdale to thwart him with a fine save. The hosts did have one bright moment before the break with Bryan Ruiz going close after a mazy run towards goal with their better moments coming in the second period.
An increase in urgency saw them match Arsenal after the restart but just couldn’t find the equaliser with Senderos and Clint Dempsey heading chances over the bar. Wojciech Szczesny then saved well from Ruiz before the Cottagers were handed a lifelike after Djuorou was given his marching orders in the 77th minute for a foul on Zamora. They certainly made their numerical advantage count as Sidwell finally made the breakthrough heading home from close range after the visitors failed to clear a corner. The home crowd knew their side had a winner in their locker and Zamora duly provided the reward for a stirring second half display volleying home in the third minute of stoppage time to secure a well deserved win foe Jol’s side.