The hosts had Steve Sidwell sent off before Mertesacker broke the deadlock in the closing stages of the first half.
Sports Mole has looked back over the clash to determine if Fulham deserved a share of the spoils at Craven Cottage.
On target 3
On target 3
Was the result fair?
It's a hard one to call because Arsenal supporters will argue, quite rightly, that their side had so much more of the ball. Having said that, they did very little with it and during the closing stages Fulham rallied. Had they managed to score an equaliser, it would have been hard to begrudge them that. The head says Arsenal deserved it, while the footballing heart could argue that a draw may have been fair.
The home side were always going to be up against it when Sidwell was rightly given his marching orders, but manager Martin Jol must be proud of what he has seen today. His side defended so well (apart from when conceding the goal) and particularly during the second half they looked dangerous on the break. Having put in that sort of display, Jol is bound to be wondering what might have been had his team had a full compliment of players for 90 minutes.
When Jack Wilshere doesn't play, Arsenal always seem to lack a creative spark. The England midfielder started on the bench today and consequently the Gunners were poor in the final third. Considering the fact that they were up against 10 men for 78 minutes, they created very little in the way of goalscoring chances. Still, the history books will show that Arsenal won the match and with regards to their battle for a place in the Champions League, that is all that matters.
Sports Mole's man of the match
Urby Emanuelson: The Dutchman has struggled to impress since joining Fulham on loan from AC Milan in January, but he showed today why he is so highly thought of in European football. With his side down to 10 men, time and again he carried the ball into the Arsenal half and caused no end of problems. More performances like this between now and the end of the season may earn him a permanent switch to Craven Cottage.
Footballers have a reputation as not being the brightest sparks and Sidwell did nothing to alter that school of thought today. Just 12 minutes into his return from a suspension for a red card against Queens Park Rangers, he was dismissed once again for a stupid lunge on Mikel Arteta. He caught the Spaniard on the ankle and left the referee no choice but to send him for an early bath.
Andre Marriner was recently announced as this season's FA Cup referee and he showed why today. Granted, there was very little for him to do, but he got the big decisions right. Other officials may have opted against sending off Sidwell so early on in the match, but Marriner made the correct call.
Fulham: The Whites are on the road next time out when they travel to Merseyside to take on Everton on Saturday afternoon.
Arsenal: A day later Arsenal will play host to champions-elect Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.