FULHAM (2) vs ARSENAL (1)
Zamora’s injury-time strike completes dramatic Fulham comeback as Wenger fumes at referee Probert and accuses Jol of getting Djourou sent off
FULHAM manager Martin Jol last night ridiculed suggestions from his Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger that he instructed his players to get Johan Djourou sent off after watching his side snatch a dramatic late victory.
Arsenal led 1-0 from midway through the first half until the 84th minute courtesy of Laurent Koscielny’s header, but Djourou’s dismissal 12 minutes from time for two yellow card offences turned the tide emphatically in the home side’s favour.
Steve Sidwell equalised with six minutes remaining after Wojciech Szczesny had flapped at a corner and the giant Pole was beaten again in the second minute of injury time by Bobby Zamora’s controlled volley.
Wenger was adamant his side would have clung on for maximum points had referee Lee Probert shown more leniency and also suggested his Swiss defender wasn’t helped by Fulham’s gamesmanship.
“When Djourou got the first card, every time he intervened they went down to get him a second yellow and the referee did nothing at all,” said Wenger (inset), who was also annoyed by Probert’s failure to award his side an early penalty for Philippe Senderos’ apparent trip on Gervinho. “I saw it coming, you know. When they brought on Kerim Frei they looked for a second yellow card on Djourou and they got it.”
But Jol, celebrating his first win over Arsenal in nine attempts, felt Djourou deserved to be sent off and laughed off Wenger’s accusations.
He said: “Maybe he could accuse me of something like that but I don’t think players are capable of that. The only thing I did was put Frei on the flank.
“He gives full-backs problems because he is an exciting player who always looks for the one-on-one situation. That was the problem for Djourou and he could have had a second booking before that.”
Zamora’s winner, his first goal in exactly three months, capped a typically commanding display that suggested his heart, if not his future, remains at Craven Cottage.
Jol has repeatedly denied there has been a falling out with the England striker and maintained last night he has received no indication that the 30-year-old is seeking a move away from the club this month.
Jol said: “Bobby has never asked me for a transfer so for me it is just speculation. He didn’t play against Chelsea because he has had an Achilles and ankle injury.
“On Sunday we made an assessment and he said he was fit and available so he played because he is my main striker.”
Fulham had been threatening an equaliser even before Johan Djourou was given his marching orders, but the right-back’s dismissal triggered an onslaught which Arsenal always looked ill-equipped to deal with. Arsene Wenger debated both bookings but replays did little to support his stance. The first caution for scything through the back of Clint Dempsey was arguably worthy of a straight red, while the tug, however slight, on Bobby Zamora prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Martin Jol maintains he has no plans to offload Bobby Zamora in January and most Fulham fans would surely hope he remains true to his word. The England striker’s goal output might have dwindled this season but his ability to hold up play and occupy both opposition centre-halves benefits the likes of Clint Dempsey, Mousa Dembele and Bryan Ruiz. Jol denied he still harbours an interest in Marseille’s Andre-Pierre Gignac so the chances of Zamora staying put look good.