Match report: Arsène Wenger refuses to get defensive as Arsenal's bad run becomes a habit after a remarkable 3-3 draw against Fulham

Arsenal 3 Fulham 3

Emirates Stadium

After a remarkable 3-3 with so many goals, so many talking points and so many issues, one thing is absolutely clear: a poor run has now become a big problem for Arsenal.

At various points this season, Arsène Wenger has somewhat surprisingly spoken about how certain results have "psychologically damaged" his team. You would wonder what the effect of this will be.

In many ways, in fact, this was an acid test for the side's mental fortitude. Not only were Arsenal coming off the back of a bad run of form and playing a good team they would still be expected to beat at home, they had to contend with a comeback as well as so much more. Ultimately, they failed that test.

Not only that, Arsenal failed to pick up three points as well as any kind of momentum, continuing the impression that this is going to be a season characterised by continual stumbles rather than purposeful strides.

Afterwards, Wenger dismissed the idea that his team is filled with "self-doubt" and insisted there is a lot of potential. "We have shown before that we can fight. There are a lot of positives in our team. At the moment, we are not getting the performances we want. But there is good potential in our side."

He also played down Mikel Arteta's last-minute penalty miss as "part of the game", adding: "The positive is that we can score goals now but the negative is we conceded three goals at home."

With admirable understatement, then, Wenger said that "defensively, I don't think it was a historical performance".

Martin Jol, by contrast, was beaming. Even he, though, admitted to "mixed feelings". It summed up the match.

The first oddity of this generally bizarre game was that, despite the ultimate scoreline and all of the chaos of the second half, nothing much actually happened in the first 45 minutes beyond the goals.

Although it was 2-2 at half-time, it didn't feel like that kind of game. It did, however, confirm a lot of what we know about the two teams. Both can be great to watch going forward, but both have problems at the back.

All four early goals, after all, came from combinations of poor defensive play and admirable attacking opportunism. Take the first. Although Olivier Giroud superbly powered a header into the corner of the Fulham net from a Theo Walcott corner on 11 minutes, the marking was non-existent. Fulham weren't allowed to forget their own defensive issues, however, as they gave further examples of them within 12 minutes. Another mishap allowed Arteta to move into a gap, before he squared for Lukas Podolski to finish.

Fulham were granted a reprieve, though, by the fact Arsenal are every bit as suspect. As talk grows that the relationship between Steve Bould and Wenger isn't as strong as it was at the start of the season, ruptures in the backline were evident on the pitch today. For one thing, Arsenal can no longer lay claim to the best defence in the league, a stat that always seemed something of an early season illusion.

Any semblance of marking was also illusory, as Dimitar Berbatov easily nodded home the header that brought Fulham back into the game on 29 minutes. Eleven minutes later, he was charging down Arsenal's vulnerable left side to cross for substitute Alex Kacaniklic to equalise. There was a real sense that Fulham had spotted a vulnerability in Arsenal and were proactively targeting it.

The home side did come out energised in the second half, though, as affairs quickly picked up speed.

So much so, in fact, that Steve Sidwell was lucky to stay on the pitch having brought down Santi Cazorla just outside the box while on a second booking. Insult was added to injustice then when Fulham were awarded a penalty after Arteta bundled over Bryan Ruiz.

Typifying a performance that was casual yet completely effective, Berbatov nonchalantly paused before stroking the ball into the corner. Moments later, though, Giroud typified Arsenal's performance as a whole. Although he could only hit the post when put through on goal, he immediately made amends by nodding in Walcott's cross to make it 3-3.

The striker seemed to be growing in confidence, as he was at the centre of every Arsenal attack from then. On 90 minutes, however, he squandered one of the best chances of the game as he headed badly wide.

There was still time for Arsenal to miss an even better one.

In one of the final acts of the game, Sascha Riether was penalised for handball in the box. The penalty was harsh. A defeat for Fulham would have been harsher. As such, there was a sense of justice when Mark Schwarzer dived down superbly to deny Arteta.

Ultimately, the biggest indictment of Arsenal and the greatest praise for Fulham is the fact the two sides are level in the table. This game backed that up, and also indicated it doesn't look like changing any time soon. Whatever claims of psychological damage, Arsenal are a team in need of a certain amount of therapy.

Arsenal (4-3-3): Mannone; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Coquelin (Ramsey, 56), Arteta, Carzola; Walcott (Arshavin, 85), Giroud, Podolski (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 76).

Fulham (4-3-3): Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise; Baird, Sidwell, Richardson (Kacaniklic, 24); Dejageh (Duff, 86), Ruiz, Berbatov.

Referee: Phil Dowd.

Man of the match: Berbatov (Fulham)

Match rating: 8/10

world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice