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mercoledì 14 novembre 2012

Fulham goalkeeper saves late penalty in dramatic draw at Arsenal

Arsenal's topsy-turvy season took another bad turn when they let slip a two-goal lead and missed a late penalty to draw 3-3 at home with Fulham. Schwarzer dived low to his left and tipped the penalty onto the post, leaving the desperate Arteta wishing the ground would swallow him up as two more points went missing for the Gunners.

Even before today's draw, Arsenal had made their worst start in the Premier League under Arsene Wenger, and now they have taken just 16 points from their opening 11 games. Arsenal should have killed off their opponents with that 2-0 lead but Fulham would not lie down and accept a beating as they fought their way back into the game with two goals in just over ten minutes before half time. 

Manager Arsene Wenger accepted Arsenal had only themselves to blame after throwing away a two-goal lead for the second time in a week as Fulham battled to a 3-3 draw at the Emirates Stadium. Early goals from Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski put the Gunners in control, just as they had been in their Champions League game at Schalke on Tuesday night, only for the Germans to fight back. 'It was frustrating because we had the opportunities to win. We were caught in a bit too comfortable of a position because we did the most difficult thing - we scored two goals to go 2-0 up. At that moment we lacked urgency defensively,' said Wenger. 

Mikel Arteta lay flabbergasted on the turf. Fulham's players huddled around their goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. Arsène Wenger looked bleak. Martin Jol thundered towards the referee, Phil Dowd, with a piquant word or two. That Arsenal had at one stage been 2-0 up, were pegged back to 3-2, then level at 3-3, and with the final twist awarded a stoppage-time penalty that was saved ... it was bedlam. Martin Jol, on the other hand, was remarkably sanguine. Expectations were low, since no Fulham manager has ever won at Arsenal. Defeat is their customary fate. 

So when Mark Schwarzer flung himself to the left to knock aside Mikel Arteta's shot, Jol accepted the outcome. 'Maybe we should be pleased after the penalty,' he remarked. 'Certainly the referee was pleased not to see it go in.' It was easy to agree with his analysis after the events of the final seconds. Bryan Ruiz, the most effective player on view, untypically surrendered possession with an indiscreet square pass. The Arsenal substitute Andrey Arshavin collected the offering, scampered into the area and smashed a drive against the arm of Fulham's Chris Baird.

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