Arsenal kept their hopes of top four place alive after seeing off a tough Fulham team, who were down to 10-men within 12 minutes.

A Per Mertesacker goal just before half-time was enough to see Arsenal earn all three points that has seen them jump above Chelsea into third, as they play Liverpool at Anfield tomorrow night.

The game started at a frantic pace with both teams getting the ball down well and passing it around, but after 12 minutes, the game looked like it was going to be all Arsenal as Fulham midfielder, Steve Sidwell saw a red card given from match official, Andre Marriner.

The Englishman had just come back from serving a suspension after being sent off against Queens Park Rangers and he needlessly lunged in on Mikel Arteta right under the referee's nose, who then had no choice but to send off the midfielder.

Despite being down to 10 men, the first goal scoring opportunity fell to Dimitar Berbatov, but Wojciech Szczesny easily saved his shot.

Theo Walcott then had a goal rightfully disallowed as he was in an offside position when striker Olivier Giroud passed the ball.

The first half was nearing it's end and it looked like Arsenal were going to be left frustrated after spending a lot of the game in Fulham's half, but after a Laurent Koscielny header across the goalmouth was turned home by Per Mertesacker, the Gunners had the lead they rightfully deserved.

It was in fact Mertesacker's third goal of the season, which means he has scored the same amount of goals as Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor and two more goals than Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck.

The second half saw Arsenal have 80% possession, but it was in fact Fulham who looked more likely to score. 

For a moment, it did look like Fulham had pulled the game back but Stanislav Manolev's strike was also ruled out for offside. Another correct call from the match officials.

The game then ended how it started, with Marriner producing a red card and this time it was for Arsenal's Giroud after he went in over the ball, which was very similar to Sidwell's challenge.

Luckily for Arsenal, the red card came too late for Fulham to take advantage of and the game ended with the Gunners taking home the three points and jumping into third in the table.

After the game, Fulham boss Martin Jol said it shouldn't have been a sending off but was proud of his team's fighting spirit.

"I would not have given the red card [against Steve Sidwell] but I am not subjective. I think it was a mistimed tackle but he caught the guy. It wasn't his intention. 

“It spoiled the game a bit but we fought like lions and had better chances than them. In the first half we did ever so well but conceded a soft goal," he said to BBC Sport.

As for Wenger, he was also full of praise for Fulham and believed his side turned off the style in the second half.

He told reporters: "We had a positive first half but in the second half we became sloppy with our passing and played with less pace to our game. You have to give Fulham credit; they are a good side and they played very well. 

“It became hard in the second half. We played with the handbrake on and tried to keep the lead without taking risks. We didn't give them enough problems. We lost pace and quality."

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