Thierry Henry scored twice as Arsenal shrugged off a slow start to beat Fulham 4-1 at Highbury.
Chris Coleman’s side threatened a shock result after a clever chip from Claus Jensen gave them the lead and Tony Warner saved a spot-kick from Lauren. Pascal Cygan eventually headed an equaliser and Henry’s quickfire double – which took him one goal behind Ian Wright’s record -provided some breathing space before Cygan rounded off the scoring.
Arsene Wenger had criticised his side for failing to take their chances against Chelsea and, for a while, it seemed like the Gunners would face another frustrating evening. Warner set the tone when he smothered Lauren’s weak spot-kick after Henry had been brought down by Zat Knight and pulled off a brilliant stop to prevent Cesc Fabregas from ramming home at the edge of the area.
Arsenal paid for all their wastefulness when Claus Jensen revived memories of his magnificent goal here for Charlton two years ago, chipping Lehmann wonderful after Kolo Toure had only half cleared a cross from Tomasz Radzinski. Fulham held on to that lead until thirteen minutes before the break when Cygan converted a free header from a Dennis Bergkamp free kick. The visitors remained a threat on the break, with McBride squandering a great chance to restore the lead when he was played through by Boa Morte and Malbranque firing wide from a good position.
McBride was even more culpable in the second period after Niclas Jensen sent Radzinski away down the left screwing a shot wide when he had the whole goal to aim at under no pressure. Almost inevitably, Arsenal went straight down the other end and scored. Jose Anotonio Reyes unlocked the Fulham defence with an impudent chip and, after an immaculate bit of control, Henry thumped a finish past Warner.
A chastened McBride nearly levelled again for Fulham – outjumping the Arsenal defence only to be denied by a superb stop from Lehmann. But Arsenal were now in command of the contest and, even though Warner spread himself well to thwart Bergkamp and Gilberto Silva, he stood no chance when Henry scampered onto Mathieu Flamini’s through ball and lifted a lovely finish into the net.
The fourth – a second for Cygan in stoppage time from close range – rather flattered the Gunners. The scoreboard wasn’t kind to Fulham, whose effort and adventure deserved more on what turned out to be another frustrating night at Highbury.
ARSENAL (4-4-2): Lehmann; Lauren, Toure, Cygan, Cole; Hleb (Clichy 83), Silva, Fabregas, Reyes (Flamini 77); Bergkamp, Henry.
Subs (not used): Almunia, Pires, van Persie.
BOOKED: Reyes, Bergkamp, Cole, Lauren, Flamini.
Goals: Cygan (32 90), Henry (53, 82).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Warner, Volz, N. Jensen, Knight, Rehman; Diop, C. Jensen, Malbranque, Boa Morte; McBride (John 64), Radzinski. Subs (not used): Batista, Leacock, Elrich, Helguson.
BOOKED: Boa Morte, Rehman.
GOAL: C. Jensen (22).
REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg (County Durham).