A good point and a much deserved one after a display which demonstrated our organisation off the ball and quality on it, but, as par for the course when you concede a goal in the last ten minutes, it was still a gutwrenching one, having looked like we actually would pick up all three. Even still, good performances all over the pitch.
Schwarzer – 8, made a couple of fantastic saves in the game from Ramsey and then Djourou. Schwarzer also recieved the ball quite often and played well in possession, plus he dealt well with crosses, I can’t remember a mistake from him. Continues his impressive run of form
Hangeland – 7.5, had a very good game alongside Senderos marshalling van Persie. Stayed very tight to him which is exactly what you need to do to deal with him; if there’s one attribute he doesn’t have, it’s pace. In the last twenty Hangeland perhaps let van Persie go a little bit more but that’s because he was pulling out on to Riise I think, and we didn’t want Hangeland out of position incase of midfield runners. Also used the ball well, zipped it into feet when needed (including turning away from three or four Arsenal players in the first half when it looked like he was about to be crowded out) but also going long if he needed to as well. Wasn’t really tested in the air, but certainly won the duel with Robin van Persie. He also covered Riise very well when he went forward.
Senderos – 6.5, had a solid game and didn’t make any mistakes. Was even more determined than Hangeland to play the ball along the floor which was quite dangerous, he’s not as talented or has as much awareness and it almost caused some real trouble. Maybe should have helped Baird a bit more when Gervinho was causing him problems.
Baird – 6.5, cruised through the game against Arshavin really and was only truly tested when Gervinho came on. However, Gervinho absolutely destroyed him, and I would have been tempted to take him off because it looked as if every time Gervinho ran at him Baird was coming off second best. Showed great anticipation to block van Persie’s effort off the line.
Riise – 7.5, ranks alongside QPR as his best performance in a Fulham shirt. I was really worried about Walcott, who’s flying at the moment, up against him but over the ninety minutes I thought Riise dealt with him well; he never let Walcott turn in behind him. A couple of times in the first half, he had a dodgy moment when Walcott burst passed him after running from deep, but on the whole Gervinho was the more troublesome winger, and he came on in the last 20 minutes. The cross for the equaliser came from Walcott, but I think that Riise can’t really be blamed, Walcott wasn’t in a particuarly dangerous position (it was a fantastic cross though) and if Riise had gone to close him down, there was alot of space behind him to expose. In possession he was neat, ventured forward sensibly and it was a fantastic run where he lost Walcott to get in behind the Arsenal defence off Murphy’s wonderful pass.
Murphy – 7.5, produced the most eye catching bit of Fulham play I think with the pass that picked out Riise for our goal. In space, he looked up, and played it perfectly over the defence onto Riise’ s chest. When we had the ball he kept it moving well, never venturing forward too much so that he’d always be an option, and covered in defence very well too; one example was when an Arsenal player was burning down the right with Riise left upfield. Looked tired up against Diaby at the end of the game though, and didn’t track Vermaelen for the equaliser.
Etuhu – 8, patrolled the midfield excellently. Sidwell’s injury has offered Etuhu a chance to claim back a first team place – it was looking like only a severe Sidwell dip in form or European rotation would offer Etuhu a chance to play – and he has taken it with both hands, putting in two impressive cases for man of the match awards two games in a row (away, nonetheless). As a strong Etuhu supporter, I’m quite smug at the moment. Firstly, his play in tight areas was very good, showing good awareness of players around him so he could take an appropriate touch and moving the ball with short (which was key, he is not a ball player, never pretends to be and so he should never be judged on it) one touch passes. He also performed a vital role protecting the back four, and one of the reasons van Persie was so quiet was because Etuhu shielded the space infront of him. When we had the ball Etuhu was often infront of Murphy and when we didn’t he was often behind him, or was the central midfielder that closed down up the pitch, so certainly an all action performance. Will Sidwell replace him?
Ruiz – 7, at last, Ruiz’s slow start is starting to fade. I thought at times Ruiz was class, he played the game at his own pace totally. Closed down by defenders he was so composed with the ball, working his way out of tight situations and keeping possession, and his passes were probing and intelligent. He tracked back well too, which he had to against a full back as offensive as Santos, although at times could have harried a bit more, and he doesn’t have the tenacity that Dembele has to win the ball back from opposition. Hopefully that will come. Not sure why he was taken off, but he signalled to the bench that he wanted to be subbed,. He has a long term injury so maybe that’s why
Dempsey – 6.5, I thought Dempsey could have done more to help Riise against Walcott in the first half; Djourou is never going to threaten offensively other than to be a spare player to pick the ball up, because he can’t cross or run with the ball. In fact, I wonder if it was sensible for Jol to play him out there, the problem a fair amount of the time was that Dempsey came in so close to Zamora in the middle of the pitch that his side was left totally vacated when Arsenal countered, so I wonder if it was more sensible from that point of view to have played Ruiz out there, Dembele on the right and Dempsey behind Zamora. Other than that though Dempsey had a good overall game, good with the ball at his feet and almost threatened a last minute winner when he got on the wrong side of Djourou but Song covered well.
Dembele – 7, worked very hard, kept possession very well, looked consistently threatening, but he needs to work on his ball striking ability if he’s going to shoot so much from outside the box.
Zamora – 7, had the better of Vermaelen throughout the game who got way too tight, letting Zamora do what he want when he was on him really. At times his touch was a bit heavy or he failed to anticipate a ball, but generally if a pass went up to him it stuck, and I think it was an injury which meant he was subbed, apparently he signalled to the bench.
Kasami – 6, he’s a good character, good physical stature and shows alot of promise, but Kasami is still very raw. I hope he starts (with Frei too) in Holland, but for the Arsenal game he was beaten by Gervinho as much as Baird was.
Johnson – 5.5, when he came on we couldn’t keep any pressure on the centre halves both in and out of possession; the ball didn’t stay upfront so we kept getting pushed deeper and deeper, and when Arsenal had the ball AJ was so deep anyway that Song (who’s good on the ball) and Vermaelen (who likes running forward) had free reign to do whatever they liked.