Oh Arsene Wenger – you’re so cute with your focus on financial stability and the long term viability of your club. Everyone knows beating Norwich away and not losing to Manchester United is where it’s really at.
Arsenal begin their latest attempt to prove their not a crisis club when they host Fulham. It’s actually a London derby, but since the Cottagers are largely inoffensive and no-one really minds them, that fact may have escaped your attention.
I’ll be here to keep you up to date on all the most important happenings and quite a few unimportant ones.
If that’s not enough, I’ll also let you know if something happens in any of the other 3pm kick-offs, although as Stoke, Wigan and Sunderland are just some of the teams playing, that’s highly unlikely.
Arsenal 3 – 3 Fulham
Stoke 1 – 0 QPR
Everton 2 – 1 Sunderland
Southampton 1 – 1 Swansea
Wigan 1 – 2 West Brom
Reading 0 – 0 Norwich
4.56pm: Very entertaining stuff at the Emirates, but one that Arsene Wenger won’t enjoy. There was plenty of nice attacking football from his players, but their defensive frailties are obvious. That’s not to hammer the defenders, because a lot of the problems came from further up the pitch with the midfield not keeping possession as well as you’d expect.
That’s all from me. I hoped you enjoyed it and if you didn’t, at least we’re quicker than the BBC’s text commentary.
4.52pm: MISS/BRILLIANT SAVE! THEN FULL TIME Arteta, with the chance of making up for conceding a penalty earlier, has his effort saved brilliantly by Mark Schwarzer. That’s the last action of the game and Fulham survive for a point they richly deserve.
4.51pm: PENALTY! Arsenal get the benefit of a very harsh decision. The ball was hit at Sascha Riether, he can’t get his arm out of the way. It’s a poor decision and Chris Baird is booked for moaning about it.
4.49pm: It’s getting a bit ‘all hands on deck’ for Fulham. Arsenal continue to press, but the best they can manage is a shot from Arteta that gets blocked, but was probably going to be saved anyway.
4.47pm: CHANCE! Another header goes wide, this time from Giroud. Hangeland’s was tough, but this was a much better chance for the Frenchman. Unmarked 14 yards out, his header trickles wide.
4.46pm: Hangeland heads wide from a corner. Don’t think by ‘wide’ I mean it was remotely dangerous. It wasn’t, it’s just not much has happened for the last five minutes or so.
4.40pm: SUBS! An injured Walcott comes off and Andrei Arshavin takes his place. For Fulham, a stubly Damien Duff comes on his place of Ashkan Dejagah.
4.37pm: Giroud has a good effort on goal. Schwarzer makes a regulation save down to his left, but as his age, nothing is regulation.
4.35pm: Everton have tied things up at Goodison and as I type, they’ve taken the lead. Fellaini scored the equaliser and Jelavic has given them the lead.
4.34pm: SUB! Alex Oxlade Chamberlain comes on for Arsenal. Podolksi gets the hook.
4.32pm: Another chance for Fulham. Berbatov gets on the end of a defence splitting through ball, but Laurent Koscielny does enough frantic diving about to put him off.
4.29pm: At St. Mary’s, Swansea have equalised at Southampton thanks to a Nathan Dyer goal.
4.28pm: This has been very entertaining, but it’s far from a defensive masterclass. Somewhere in the BBC, Alan Hansen is wetting himself at the prospect of taking this apart on Match of the Day.
4.26pm: POST AND THEN GOAL! ARSENAL! It’s 3-3 Lovely play from Arsenal eventually leads to the goal. First up, Cazrola plays in Giroud. He’s one one one with Schwarzer, but his effort hits the post. Arsenal salvage the attack and the Frenchman redeems himself by heading home from about six yards out.
4.24pm: GOAL! 3-2 FULHAM! Berbatov does the business from the spot. A very coolly taken penalty hit low to the keeper’s right.
4.23pm: PENALTY FOR FULHAM! Arteta loses the ball on the edge of the Arsenal box and in his haste, brings down Ruiz.
4.21pm: Southampton have taken the lead against Swansea. Schneiderlin with the goal.
4.17pm: YELLOW CARD! Ramsey has been on less than five minutes and already he finds his name in the referee’s little black book for tugging on the shorts of Bryan Ruiz. That sounded a little gayer than I intended, but I can assure you, it was a very heterosexual tugging on the shorts.
Meanwhile, Cazorla hits a free kick just over from about 25 yards out.
4.15pm: Who scored the first goal for Arsenal? Why it’s Ollie, Ollie, Ollie, Ollie Gir-oud:
You can laugh, but this guy is being lined up to write the UK’s Eurovision entry for next year.
4.13pm: SUB! Francis Coquelin is called ashore and Aaron Ramsey takes his place as Arsene Wenger gets a bit more attack-minded.
4.11pm: Arsenal have come back strongly and look very dangerous when they pull their finger out. In this case, ‘pulling their finger out’ generally refers to giving the ball to Theo Walcott who has looked dangerous in the last few minutes.
4.08pm: Goal for Stoke! Charlie Adam puts the Potters ahead against QPR. The ball breaks to him six yards out and he pounces like a classic poacher to caress the ball beyond Julio Cesar. Who would have thought it – Charlie Adam doing some poaching and we’re not talking about eggs.
4.06pm: Arsenal go a bit route one and it nearly plays off as Hangeland clears without really knowing what happened. The ball hits him on the back and with Giroud lurking, the defenders manages to hoof it away from danger.
4.05pm: This is looking worse for Arsene Wenger than a star player reaching the last 12 months of his contract. Fulham have started the second half well and they’re the ones playing the silky passing game.
4.02pm: Arsenal start the second half.
4.01pm: Fox Sports Australia are showing a compilation of Andriy Voronin’s Liverpool goals for some reason. It’s not a long compilation.
3.58pm: After a brilliant performance in the first half, Dimitar Berbatov is looking pleased with himself:
3.48pm: HALF TIME! The boos ring out at the Emirates. After looking like this was going to be easier than feeling smugly superior to any manager who spends a bit of money, Arsene Wenger’s team have fallen apart. At one point they were swaggering through the game, but by the end of the first half they were hanging on in there. Fulham have done very well and they’ll come out thinking a first ever win at Arsenal is possible.
3.46pm: GOAL! Sunderland take the lead at Goodison. The Everton defence do such a good job of pushing out after defending a corner that no-one notices Adam Johnson sneaking around the back to get on the end of a cross.
At the Emirates, Arsenal narrowly avoid going 3-2 down when none of the Fulham players get on a ball across the box. Mertesacker intervenes to put the ball out.
3.45pm: GOAL! WIGAN Just when it looks like West Brom are bossing affairs, the Latics respond with a goal from Kone.
3.43pm: 2-0 WEST BROM! It’s an own goal off Gary Caldwell as the visitors take a stranglehold of the game.
3.40pm: GOAL! FULHAM It’s all square again as Kačaniklić heads home from ten yards out. Dimitar Berbatov provided a lovely cross and the young Swede managed to find enough space to head beyond Mannone, who got a touch but couldn’t keep it out.
3.39pm: Great co-commentary from Brian Little as he goes into a detailed explanation of why being 2-0 up is better than being 2-1 up.
3.32pm: GOAL! WEST BROM! James Morrison puts the Baggies ahead at Wigan. The ‘definitely not an Englishman despite what Garth Crooks says’ heads in from about four yards out.
3.28pm: GOAL! FULHAM After it looks like Arsenal were going to stroll it, it doesn’t take long for the cracks to appear. Dimitar Berbatov gets on the end of a Bryan Ruiz corner to head Fulham back into the game. Weak defending from Arsenal, particularly Sagna. Game back on.
3.24pm: SUB! Martin Jol finally gets the replacement for Richardson on. It’s Alexander Kačaniklić who takes the striken winger’s place.
3.23pm: GOAL! 2-0 ARSENAL Arsenal double the lead thanks to a nicely worked goal from Podolski. Some nice work from Mikel Arteta tees him up to smash the ball home from about six yards out.
Fulham will complain that they were down to 10 men, but it won’t have made a blind bit of difference, particularly with the defence playing musical statues.
3.19pm: Kieren Richardson pulls up with what looks like a hamstring injury. He looks lamer than having a MySpace page, so that will be the end of his afternoon.
3.14pm: Arsenal were already hot favourites prior to the goal and they’re ‘hotter than the tomato in a toastie’ hot now. The Gunners are 1/6 to win from here with the draw 5/1 and Fulham 13/1
3.10pm: GOAL! ARSENAL 1-0 The Gunners were gradually coming into the game and they come up with a very un-Arsenal goal. Olivier Giroud gets on the end of a corner and powers a header past Mark Schwarzer.
It’s a lovely goal by most team’s standards, but I think I just heard Arsene Wenger vomit on the sideline.
3.07pm: Giroud has a shot, but it’s high and not very threatening. Like a hippy.
3.05pm: ‘Berbatov beats the Arsenal offside trap’. A phrase you never thought you’d hear against a team playing anything other than four turtles at the back.
3.04pm: It doesn’t take long for Arsenal’s vulnerability to come to the fore. Bryan Ruiz has a shot from the edge of the box and it fizzes just wide via a deflection.
3pm: That was an impeccably observed minutes silence at the Emirates. At least I think it was a minutes silence. It’s the Emirates, so you’re never really know. Fulham get the game underway.
2.50pm: In a quick and far from comprehensive round up of the other team news, Boaz Myhill starts in goal for West Brom against Wigan as Ben Foster is injured. That’s terrible news for the Baggies – imagine having to play a goalkeeper considered not as good as Ben Foster! Nasty.
2.28pm: TEAM NEWS!
Szczesny returns from injury for Arsenal, but he’ll start (and most likely finish) on the bench. Mannone starts in goal. It’s Podolski, Giroud and Walcott who make up the enigmatic attacking three.
Mannone, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Coquelin, Arteta, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski, Giroud
The Fulham team is also in and it looks very much like a Fulham team. Yep, it’s definitely a Fulham team. Dimitar Berbatov will be meandering around up front alongside Bryan Ruiz.
Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Dejagah, Baird, Sidwell, Richardson, Ruiz, Berbatov
2.10pm: Arsenal have something of a middling record in domestic action after a European night. They win just 53 per cent of the time after a Champions League game, which actually makes them less effective after European football than Spurs. Yes, Spurs. Here’s the graph below or you want to find out more, you can read the entire article here.