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Arsenal, Fulham battle to wild 3-3 draw

Arsenal squandered a 2-0 lead for the second time in five days and missed an injury-time penalty as Fulham claimed a 3-3 draw at the Emirates on Saturday.

The Gunners, who were held by Schalke in Gelsenkirchen in the Champions League on Tuesday night after opening up a two-goal cushion, went ahead through Olivier Giroud's header from a Theo Walcott corner and doubled their advantage when Lukas Podolski swept home Mikel Arteta's center.

But Fulham pulled one back after 29 minutes as an unmarked Dimitar Berbatov nodded in Bryan Ruiz's corner from inside the six-yard box and the Cottagers equalized when Berbatov's cross from the right was headed in by substitute Alex Kacaniklic.

"It was frustrating because we had the opportunities to win," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. "We were caught in a bit too comfortable of a position because we did the most difficult thing -- we scored two goals to go 2-0 up. At that moment we lacked urgency defensively."

Fulham took the lead for the first time when Arteta dragged down Ruiz in the area and Berbatov stroked home a 67th-minute penalty.

But the visitors' joy was shortlived as Giroud, having placed his first effort against the post, reacted well to head in Walcott's subsequent cross.

"In the second half we gave absolutely everything and I have to give credit to the players, in the last three games what they have done physically is amazing," Wenger said. "Even at 3-2 down we didn't give up and continued to go forward and we had the chances to win the game."

Walcott was replaced with six minutes left after picking up an injury to his buttock muscles during the first half. He is doubtful for England's friendly in Sweden next week.

"Walcott has a glute muscle problem," said Wenger. "We nearly took him off at halftime, he nearly went down, but we left him on and on. In the end, it got worse and worse. At the moment, he is limping so I do not know whether he will be able to join the national team or not."

Arsenal could have won it in the 94th minute when referee Phil Dowd harshly judged Sascha Riether had handled Andrey Arshavin's cross.

Fulham manager Martin Jol felt Arshavin had been clever in the way he engineered the penalty.

"I think he did it on purpose," said the Dutch coach. "There was no way to cross it. Did he have a shot, no? There was no room to cross. It was ball to hand. I have had a few fantastic players in the past and they could do it as well, and the ref falls for it. I think the ref was pleased as well not to see it go in because it would have been harsh."

Arteta struck his shot well enough towards the bottom right corner, but Mark Schwarzer -- once an Arsenal transfer target -- produced a brilliant save at full stretch to earn the Cottagers a share of the spoils in the final action of an entertaining encounter.

Wenger, though, refused to lambast Arteta for not dispatching the last-gasp spot kick.

"You cannot blame Arteta for that. It is part of the game. Who hasn't missed a penalty?" the Arsenal boss said. "The positives are that we can score goals now. The negatives are to concede three goals at home of course, and the chances we gave away, defensively it wasn't an historical performance."

Also Saturday, Everton stayed in the fourth spot after coming from behind to beat struggling Sunderland 2-1 at Goodison Park.

The visitors threatened early through Stephane Sessegnon and Steven Fletcher and finally made the breakthrough when summer signing Adam Johnson netted shortly before the break.

But, following plenty of Everton pressure, Marouane Fellaini drove past Simon Mignolet after 76 minutes and, two minutes later, the Belgian cleverly flicked on for Nikica Jelavic to fire home.

West Brom won 2-1 at Wigan thanks to a James Morrison header and a Gary Caldwell own goal.

Scotland midfielder Morrison has been an impressive performer in the Baggies' strong start and he was on hand to head home Chris Brunt's wicked left-footed cross after 31 minutes.

And when Caldwell put through his own goal it looked good for Steve Clarke's men.

Arouna Kone pulled one back on the stroke of halftime but Wigan could not find a leveler.

Another individual defensive mistake prevented Southampton from beating Swansea.

Southampton went ahead through Morgan Schneiderlin's 64th-minute header but was pegged back nine minutes later as Maya Yoshida was dispossessed by Nathan Dyer and the winger ran through to score and the game ended 1-1.

Stoke moved up to 12th after a hard-fought 1-0 win at home to winless QPR.

Charlie Adam got the only goal -- his first for the club -- at the start of the second half, firing in left-footed after the visitors had failed to clear Robert Huth's long free kick into the box.

The defeat, their seventh of the season, means Mark Hughes' men stay bottom.

Reading, which has scored eight times in its past two home games without winning either, could not find a way past Norwich in a scoreless draw as its search for a first Premier League victory of the season goes on.

Information from Press Association was used in this report.


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