Riise denies Djourou plan

The Gunners looked set for a fifth victory in six away Premier

League matches until the home side’s late comeback at Craven

Cottage. Steve Sidwell and Bobby Zamora netted in the final minutes

of the match to secure Fulham a 2-1 win, with the catalyst

seemingly Djourou’s red card for a second bookable offence 12

minutes before time. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was furious

after the match and, as well as hitting out at referee Lee Probert,

claimed the Cottagers attempted to get the Switzerland

international sent off. The Frenchman suggested substitute Kerim

Frei was brought on to look for a second booking, but Riise has

followed manager Martin Jol in denying the allegation. “We would

never do that,” the Norway international said. “What we do, we know

people are strong like Kerim and give him the ball, make him go one

against one and see what he can do. “That’s a tactic but we never

go out and get people sent off. That’s not fair play and we never

do that. “He should have been yellow carded for a tackle before

that. I think he had three tackles in quite a short time. It was

the right decision. “I think before the sending off we played well,

pushed them but we couldn’t get the goals. “When they lose a man,

you know it is going to be hard for them and you get the extra

energy to push on again.” While Arsenal felt aggrieved after the

match, defeat would have been cruel on Fulham after a spirited

performance. The west Londoners rode a first-half storm and

impressed onlookers after the break with their swashbuckling

attacking style. “The team spirit is very high,” left-back Riise

said. “We played okay in the first half as well and had a few

chances but gave them too much space on the counter attack but in

the second half we decided to be more compact. “We knew fitness

would play a part in the game. “We have a fit squad and we like to

work hard and we proved in the second half that we were a little

bit stronger at the end.” The victory comes after impressive draws

at Chelsea and Norwich, which have helped to put their recent 5-0

mauling by Manchester United behind them. “We were disappointed and

a little embarrassed at how we played against United,” Riise added.

“We showed a lot of character to bounce back to draw against

Chelsea and now we beat Arsenal. “We worked hard and we are

extremely happy – people are looking forward to some days off now.”

While the home side revelled in their surprise victory, Arsenal

players were quickly ushered out of Craven Cottage after the match.

Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny tweeted in the aftermath: “Poor

result for us, poor goalkeeping by me for the first goal, poor day

all around! “Let’s move on and win the next one!” Arsenal defender

Thomas Vermaelen, who missed the match with a calf strain, echoed

Szczesny’s comments, tweeting: “Disappointing result today but

still long way to go. Keep fighting!”