Sunday 9 May 2004, 3:00pm at Loftus Road, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC
Reyes 9'

89' Yellow Card

Sean Davis Card was given for a foul

58' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Collins John
Off:Martin Djetou

58' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Brian McBride
Off:Junichi Inamoto

9' Goal

José Antonio Reyes

52' 2nd Yellow Card

Patrick Vieira Card was given for a foul

69' Yellow Card

Thierry Henry Card was given for a foul

84' Yellow Card

Ray Parlour Card was given for a foul

71' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Jérémie Aliadière
Off:José Antonio Reyes

78' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Gaël Clichy
Off:Robert Pires

87' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Martin Keown
Off:Fredrik Ljungberg

An unfortunate error from Edwin Van Der Sar allowing Jose Reyes to score for the visitors proved to be the difference against Arsenal at Loftus Road.
History awaits at Highbury next weekend. Arsenal's 'New Invincibles' are now just one match from a place in the record books and a seemingly irresistible force is with them. 

Arsene Wenger's side extended their incredible unbeaten league run since the start of the season to 37 games with a considerable helping hand from Fulham keeper Edwin van der Sar.

Jose Reyes took full advantage of a costly mistake by the Dutchman with just eight minutes gone and Arsenal's resolve thereafter was exemplary as they repelled the building Fulham pressure. Now only Leicester can stop them emulating the feat of the original 'invincibles' of Preston North End, who may have also remained unbeaten but in a 22-game season back in 1888-89.

And while the Gunners have not been at their best since winning the title with four games to spare, nowhere was their determination to rewrite the record books more evident than in Patrick Vieira.

The Arsenal captain may have cracked a rib in training on the eve of this fixture but he played on, with a painkilling injection after his side's early goal.

That breakthrough came when van der Sar, who had denied Fredrik Ljungberg after just two minutes, was then left horribly embarrassed by a schoolboy error.

The Dutchman initially struggled to control Martin Djetou's routine back-pass but, instead of hacking the ball clear as Reyes closed him down, he then tried to dribble his way out of trouble.

It was, to put it mildly, not a good idea. Reyes simply tackled van der Sar before clipping his shot into the empty net and Arsenal were ahead.

Fulham, who had achieved a goalless draw at Highbury earlier this season - when van der Sar was magnificent - suddenly had to rethink their strategy as they had started with a five-man midfield.

However, rather than panicking, they regrouped and started to dominate possession, with Steed Malbranque and Sean Davis leading by example in midfield.

Luis Boa Morte managed to burst clear onto Junichi Inamoto's through-ball only for Jens Lehmann, who had also saved his side at Fratton Park in midweek, to produce an excellent reaction block.

And while Arsenal were not quite as assured at the back as they have been for most of this season, Sol Campbell was as combative as ever.

Indeed, the Gunners still managed to hold out until the break as Malbranque curled one effort just wide and had another saved by Lehmann.

Malbranque also flashed an overhead kick over the bar, but boss Chris Coleman needed more attacking options and introduced Brian McBride and Collins John for Djetou and Inamoto with 32 minutes left.

Arsenal continued to hold firm, however, and were always dangerous on the break, with the lively Reyes striking the side-netting from the edge of the penalty area.

Jeremie Aliadiere, making his 10th league appearance of the season to guarantee a Premiership winner's medal, nevertheless replaced the Spaniard with 20 minutes left.

And even if Arsenal were not at their most fluent, their determination to remain unbeaten was clear, as Cole flung himself to block a drive by Sylvain Legwinski.

Moritz Volz, meanwhile, fired a stinging drive just past the far post and Gael Clichy was quickly brought on instead of Pires to add more defensive strength to Arsenal's left flank.

Malbranque just failed to connect with a flick from McBride, but with Martin Keown continuing his own quest for a winner's medal as a substitute, it was Arsenal who prevailed.

Thierry Henry even saw a free-kick tipped over the bar, but his team were home and dry. Fulham may have had a superb season but it was simply not their day.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are not finished yet.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Sunday 9 May 2004
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Loftus Road, London
Attendance: 18,102

Referee: Mike Dean


Line-up: Van der Sar; Volz, Pearce, Goma, Bocanegra; Legwinski, Djetou (John 58'), Davis, Inamoto (McBride 58'), Malbranque; Boa Morte

Unused substitutes: Crossley, Hudson, Petta


Line-up: Lehmann; Lauren, Campbell, Touré, Cole; Ljungberg (Keown 87'), Vieira, Parlour, Pires (Clichy 78'); Henry, Reyes (Aliadière 71')

Unused substitutes: Stack, Bergkamp

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Arsenal 37 87
2 Chelsea 37 76
3 Manchester United 37 72
4 Liverpool 37 59
5 Aston Villa 37 56
6 Newcastle United 36 54
7 Bolton Wanderers 37 53
8 Charlton Athletic 37 50
9 Fulham 37 49
10 Birmingham City 37 49
11 Middlesbrough 37 48
12 Southampton 36 46
13 Blackburn Rovers 37 43
14 Portsmouth 37 42
15 Tottenham Hotspur 37 42
16 Everton 37 39
17 Manchester City 37 38
18 Leicester City 37 33
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 37 33
20 Leeds United 37 33
Fulham (4-5-1)
  • 1Edwin Van der Sar
  • 2Moritz Volz
  • 35Ian Pearce
  • 24Alain Goma
  • 34Carlos Bocanegra
  • 5Sylvain Legwinski
  • 17Martin Djetou
  • 23Sean Davis
  • 6Junichi Inamoto
  • 4Steed Malbranque
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 12Mark Crossley
  • 5Mark Hudson
  • 26Bobby Petta
  • 8Brian McBride
  • 17Collins John
Arsenal (4-4-2)
  • 1Jens Lehmann
  • 4Lauren
  • 5Sol Campbell
  • 5Kolo Touré
  • 3Ashley Cole
  • 8Fredrik Ljungberg
  • 24Patrick Vieira
  • 15Ray Parlour
  • 7Robert Pires
  • 14Thierry Henry
  • José Antonio Reyes
  • 29Graham Stack
  • 14Martin Keown
  • 22Gaël Clichy
  • 10Jérémie Aliadière
  • 10Dennis Bergkamp