Walcott was replaced with six minutes left after suffering the problem during the first half. Arsène Wenger, who saw his side suffer an attack of the jitters just as they did at Schalke in the Champions League last Tuesday when they also squandered a 2-0 lead, said the forward would need to be assessed before the international friendly match in Stockholm. "Walcott has a glute muscle problem," Wenger said. "We nearly took him off at half-time, he nearly went down but we left him on and on. In the end, it got worse and worse. He is limping so I do not know whether he will be able to join the national team or not."
Wayne Rooney could also be a doubt after he hurt an ankle in Manchester United's 3-2 win over Aston Villa, with Sir Alex Ferguson saying: "He's got an ankle knock and has ice on it. We'll see how he is tomorrow."
Wenger's team had given themselves a fine start against Fulham, only to immediately concede the initiative, and Martin Jol was delighted with the way his team responded. It was not just the character they showed but the class – epitomised by their maverick attacking pairing of Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz. Jol more or less admitted that he felt Arsenal were there for the taking. "We said before the game we would try to dominate – it's a fairytale to do that away at Arsenal. I can't remember playing here and creating so many chances."
Such sentiments should be food for thought for Wenger, even though he could take some comfort that his team showed determination of their own to come back from a 3-2 deficit, and almost win it at the end. As it turned out Mikel Arteta's stoppage-time penalty was saved.
Wenger was particularly disappointed with Fulham's first goal, when Berbatov had a free header from a set piece. "Nobody jumped to win the ball," he said. "The positives are we can score goals, but the negatives, to concede thee goals at home, and the chances we give away. Defensively, it was not a historical performance."
It speaks volumes that their best defender at set pieces was Olivier Giroud, who also headed two goals. Wenger complained that his players were "jaded" after a difficult week that took in trips to Old Trafford and Gelsenkirchen, and he is unhappy with the timing of the international break. "It is difficult this week because everyone goes away. All I can do is pray everyone comes back."
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image: © Ronnie Macdonald