Fulham 0 - Arsenal 3

Last updated : 12 September 2004 By Footymad Previewer

The Gunners struck three times in under ten minutes as Freddie Ljungberg ensured they ended the day on top of the table.

The Swede fired home the first and then helped Zat Knight put the ball in his own net just after the hour mark to put Arsene Wenger's side in control - and substitute Jose Antonio Reyes put the game beyond doubt soon after.

Fulham will feel hard done by, however, after two controversial first-half decisions by referee Mark Halsey.

Firstly he gave the home side a penalty for a foul by Ashley Cole on Andy Cole - and then changed his mind moments later.

And Halsey enraged the Cottagers further on half-time as he ruled out what looked to be a perfectly good goal by Collins John.

Fulham came into the game on the back of two defeats and as the contest got underway a similar outcome looked likely as Arsenal immediately began to dominate.

Dennis Bergkamp took just two minutes to cause panic in the home defence with a well judged cross, but Knight managed to head clear.

Moments later it was Ljungberg causing problems as he ran at Carlos Bocanegra, but he was unable to beat the American full-back.

Fulham finally worked their way into the game and almost went ahead in the 16th minute.

Mark Pembridge's out-swinging corner was met by the head of Knight, but Ljungberg managed to clear his goal bound effort off the line.

Moments later the Gunners showed exactly what they are capable of with a sweeping move which ended up at the feet of Thierry Henry. The Frenchman flicked the ball up in typically elegant fashion, but his volley flew high over the bar.

By now the game was moving from end to end and it was soon Fulham's turn to attack. Mark Pembridge went down in the penalty area as he was surrounded by three Gunners players - but referee Halsey gave a free-kick to the visitors.

Patrick Vieira picked up a booking on his comeback for a foul on fellow Papa Bouba Diop and on 25 minutes Arsenal almost went ahead.

Henry played a neat one-two with Bergkamp before teeing up Ljungberg, but the Swedish international did not manage to connect properly under a challenge from Knight and Edwin van der Sar saved.

Luis Boa Morte caused problems for the visiting defence all afternoon and forced Jens Lehmann into a parried save on 31 minutes.

Seconds later the game exploded. Diop found Andy Cole with a throughball and as Ashley Cole dived in to make a saving tackle referee Halsey pointed straight to the penalty spot.

Fulham supporters roared in delight - but were soon enraged as the man in the middle had a change of heart. After consulting his assistant Halsey decided it was not a penalty and bounced the ball back into the arms of Lehmann - it was a bizarre decision.

Ljungberg again failed to trouble van der Sar with a strike on 37 minutes and soon after the Gunners could have had been awarded a penalty.

Henry made a curving run round the back of the Fulham defence to latch on to the ball as Moritz Volz desperately tried to make a covering tackle.

The forward went to ground as Volz slid in but no penalty was given and the ball went out for a corner.

On the stroke of half-time Halsey was the centre of attention again as he ruled out a goal by Fulham striker John.

Pembridge's long throw was flicked on by Sylvain Legwinski and John rose between two players to head home brilliantly. Halsey had other ideas however and, as the youngster wheeled away in delight, he was ruled to have pushed Kolo Toure and the effort was chalked off.

Fulham felt hard done by and after the break there was the feeling that Arsenal would win the match if they were given half a chance - and that's exactly what happened.

John twice went close just after the break but he was made to pay for his missed chances.

After Henry went close in the 61st minute after rounding van der Sar the Gunners went ahead. Substitute Jose Antonio Reyes received a ball from Henry and teed up Ljungberg.

The Swede had already missed three good chances, but made no mistake this time as he rattled the ball beyond van der Sar and ran away to celebrate with the relieved travelling fans.

Angry shot-stopper van der Sar claimed the goal was offside, Volz clearly played Ljungberg onside.

Within a minute the Gunners were two goals up. Bergkamp slid the ball through and Ljungberg slid in with Knight - the ball ending up in the back of the net.

It was harsh on Fulham who worked hard and deserved more, but Arsenal had no sympathy and wanted more.

They soon got it. Reyes raced through after another great ball from Bergkamp and brilliantly clipped the ball past van der Sar.

There was no hope of Fulham coming back but they did not give up. Strikers John and Andy Cole worked hard all afternoon and the ex-Manchester United man came close twice late on.

First he had a shot saved on the ground by Lehmann and moments later really tested the keeper's agility with a fantastic volley which the German somehow managed to keep out.

It was not to be Fulham's day and as Arsenal fans sung how they are unbeatable, it left everyone wondering just what it will take to beat Wenger's men.

Man of the Match: Freddie LjungbergThe Swedish international ran the show in midfield and deservedly got his name onto the scoresheet.