Per Mertesacker
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker, left, celebrates his second goal of the season in the Gunners 1-0 victory over Fulham Saturday. Reuters

Per Mertesacker's close-range header in the 43rd minute proved the difference in Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Fulham, but the game was marred by rough play on both sides at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Combined, the clubs committed 21 fouls, and earned four bookings. Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell was issued a red card in the 12th minute, and forward Olivier Giroud picked up a red in the 90th for the Gunners.

Sidwell’s tackle of Mikel Arteta left Fulham short-handed and allowed Arsenal to counter-attack and control possession. The Gunners held possession for 71 percent of the match, and forced eight offsides on the Fulham offense.

Arteta and Aaron Ramsey also earned yellow cards.

Giroud’s send off left Arsenal open for a letdown, and Fulham forced two corner kicks afterwards, but failed to capitalize. On the day, Fulham forced seven corners to the Gunners three. It was nervy victory for Arsenal, who next meet Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.

The highlights from the match can be viewed below.

Fulham vs Arsenal 0.1 Mertesacker by footballdaily1

Sidwell red card (Fulham vs Arsenal) by footballdaily1