Fulham and Arsenal shared the points at Craven Cottage in a dramatic encounter on the final day of the season. Goals from Steve Sidwell and Bobby Zamora were cancelled out by strikes from Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott.
Considering the blustery conditions at Craven Cottage, both sides made a positive start to the game, keeping the ball on the ground and looking to reduce the influence of the wind. Fulham looked lively in attack in the opening stages with Andrew Johnson in particular troubling the Arsenal defence with his pace.
But Arsenal soon found their feet and saw their first attempt on goal produce a routine catch from Mark Schwarzer on nine minutes. That effort sparked a spell of attacking pressure from the visitors, albeit without drawing any further saves from Schwarzer.
However, the Fulham keeper needed to be at his best to produce a stunning reflex save after Kieran Gibbs powered a header on goal.
Fulham’s first attempt on goal came through Andrew Johnson on 23 minutes. Johnson had been lurking on the shoulder of the last defender and was played in after a poor defensive header. Unfortunately Szczesny was able to collect the ball cleanly. However Fulham didn’t have long to wait for another chance and this time the Whites made no mistake.
Bobby Zamora was played through in the inside right position and was able to advance into the area before cutting a pass back for Steve Sidwell to side foot past Szczesny from eight yards.
Unfortunately Fulham’s lead lasted only a matter of minutes as Robin van Persie produced a fine piece of control to take a firm pass from Abou Diaby past Philippe Senderos and calmly place a finish past Schwarzer on 29 minutes.
Only a fantastic last-ditch sliding tackle from Thomas Vermaelen prevented the Whites from retaking the lead after Danny Murphy forced his way through the centre of the Arsenal defence. With Murphy having got past Szczesny, Vermaelen’s outstretched boot diverted the ball around the post at the last moment.
Mark Schwarzer produced an excellent save on 51 minutes to deny Samir Nasri after the Arsenal man sent a well-struck free-kick flying towards the top corner. With both sides having their fair share of chances, the second-half was certainly more of a to-and-fro affair than the first.
Fulham retook the lead on 57 minutes after a well worked attack resulted in Bobby Zamora heading past Szczesny from close range after an excellent cross from Jonathan Greening.
Chances soon started to fall for both sides, with Mark Schwarzer preventing Chamakh from getting a sniff of goal with a fine interception from a cross – whilst at the other end Andrew Johnson was able to find space in the Arsenal area, only to fire straight at Szczesny.
Jonathan Greening and Danny Murphy made way for Dickson Etuhu and Simon Davies on 65 minutes as Mark Hughes displayed his intentions of maintaining the upper hand in midfield. Fulham made their final change of the game on 70 minutes. Bobby Zamora, who appeared to be carrying a knock, was replaced by Zoltan Gera. The Hungarian international entered the pitch to a resounding ovation and joined Johnson up front.
Unfortunately Gera’s participation lasted only a matter of minutes after he was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Thomas Vermaelen. The dismissal left Andrew Johnson up front on his own as the Whites looked to hold on to their lead for the final minutes.
Arsenal netted a late equaliser after Theo Walcott managed to beat Matthew Briggs out wide before charging into the area and drilling low shot towards the far post. Mark Schwarzer was able to get a fingertip on the shot but the ball struck the inside of the post and crossed the line.