When Fulham splashed the cash on Steve Marlet, Jean Tigana believed he would be able to score the goals that would establish the Whites as a force in the Premiership. It has yet to turn out that way and this afternoon, the French international sliced into his own to extend Fulham’s winless run and gift Arsenal an end to their own four match losing streak.

The Gunners were far from convincing at Loftus Road and gratefully pounced the three points that helped them close the gap on league leaders Liverpool to four points. Arsene Wenger was grateful for his side’s defensive resolution but they rode their luck in both boxes, especially when Marlet’s miscue from Thierry Henry’s poorly struck corner delivered this dour London derby’s decisive moment.

Tigana’s team, emboldened by a brilliant victory in Zagreb in midweek, should have been in front in the very first minute. Steed Malbranque made strong progress along the left flank and produced the perfect cross for the onrushing Steve Finnan but the full back somehow headed wide from close range. Tigana and his coaching staff then fumed when referee Jeff Winter waved play on instead of awarding a penalty when Sol Campbell pushed Luis Boa Morte to the floor inside the box.

Arsenal had offered very little as an attacking threat before Marlet, stationed at the near post, sent a clearance from Henry’s corner past his own goalkeeper to give the visitors the lead. van der Sar then prevented Freddie Ljungberg from doubling the advantage after the Swede had been played through on goal by the returning Dennis Bergkamp.

Tigana turned to his substitutes in the second half, introducing Junichi Inamoto and Barry Hayles, as the Whites went in search of an equaliser. Campbell managed to prevent Marlet from getting to a floated free-kick from Andy Melville and David Seaman rolled back the years at death – making a brilliant reaction save to push Sylvain Legwinski’s header over the bar from an Inamoto corner.

Whilst Fulham’s overall display was encouraging, this was another opportunity to gain a positive result against one of the country’s top sides that went begging.

FULHAM (4-5-1): van der Sar; Ouaddoh, Brevett, Melville, Goma; Djetou (Inamoto 54), Legwinski, Malbranque (Hayles 54), Finnan, Boa Morte; Marlet. Subs (not used): Taylor, Knight, Clark.

BOOKED: Djetou

ARSENAL (4-4-2): Seaman; Lauren (Luzhny 65), Campbell, Cygan, Cole; Wiltord (Toure 83), Silva, Edu, Ljungberg; Henry, Bergkamp (Kanu 72). Subs (not used): Shaaban, Pires.

BOOKED: Cygan, Edu.

Fulham: Van der Sar, Finnan, Ouaddou, Melville, Brevett, Legwinski, Malbranque (Hayles 54), Goma, Boa Morte, Marlet, Djetou (Inamoto 54).
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Clark, Knight. Booked: Djetou.

Subs Not Used: Pires, Shaaban.

Booked: Cygan, Edu.

GOAL: Marlet (o.g. 32).

REFEREE: Jeff Winter (Cleveland).