For 12 minutes, Arsenal had most of the possession while Fulham attempted to play on the counter, as expected. Then Steve Sidwell got himself sent off, which did nothing but make Saturday's contest a more extreme version of the match it already was. Arsenal did very little with their possession and Fulham failed to finish off their counters, but the Gunners did make the most of one chance in a 1-0 win.
Sidwell, who recently served a three-match ban, managed to pick up another one for himself with a reckless tackle on Mikel Arteta. He went over the ball and planted his studs into Arteta's shin, leaving Andre Marriner no choice but to show a straight red. That changed the game very little and simply made Arsenal more careless, giving Fulham more space to counter into.
Fulham had a pair of good chances in the first half that they probably should have done a bit better with, though Wojciech Szczesny deserves credit for a pair of solid saves. Urby Emmanuelson set up Dimitar Berbatov at the end of a counter in the 20th minute, but Szczesny got across well to make a save at the near post. The Arsenal keeper came up big again later in the half, stopping a similar shot by Emmanuelson.
Olivier Giroud had a great chance to put Arsenal up in the 35th minute when he beat his defender with a turn and directed a shot at the far post, but it bounced off the upright and away for a goal kick. Fortunately for him, the Gunners wouldn't end up regretting that miss much. In the 43rd minute, Laurent Koscielny lost his marker on a free kick and nodded back across the face of goal. Per Mertesacker anticipated well and poked in a finish to send Arsenal into the locker room up 1-0.
The second half was extremely uneventful, as Arsenal seemed rather content to sit on their lead. With Arteta and Aaron Ramsey pushing forward less, there was less space for Fulham to counter into. Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski entered the game in the 70th minute, though they had minimal impact.
There was a bit of late drama, with Giroud picking up a red card in the 90th minute for a challenge similar to Sidwell's earlier in the game. Fulham had a pair of corners and a couple of other dangerous crosses into the box in stoppage time, but Arsenal cleared all of them away, holding on for three points.