Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Gabriel Goes From Zero to Hero
Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference
Final Result: Arsenal 2-1 Fulham (Odegaard 64′, Gabriel 85′) | (Mitrovic 56′)
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney (Nketiah 61′); Elneny, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard (Holding 90′), Martinelli; Jesus (Tomiyasu 89′)
With Manchester City’s win over Crystal Palace propelling them to first place, Arsenal knew that only a victory against Fulham would keep their 100% record intact and take them back to the summit of the league. The Gunners’ caused wasn’t helped with the fact that there were some injury absences from Thomas Partey (tight thigh) and Oleksandr Zinchenko (sprained knee). Partey missed a considerable chunk of game time last season due to these same thigh issues, so it’s really a concern with the crunch clash against Manchester United in the horizon. However, Arsenal had good squad depth to compensate for the injury absences with the introductions of Kieran Tierney and Mo Elneny.
Fulham arrived at the Emirates in good form as well as going unbeaten, following two draws against Liverpool and Wolves, as well as last gasp win over Brentford, and all eyes were on their talismanic striker, Aleksandar Mitrovic, that had scored three goals in his first three Premier League games. The game also saw ex-Gunner, Bernd Leno, return to a place he once called home, and all eyes were on the big German to see if he could activate his inner Manuel Neuer, as all ex-Arsenal keepers do when they come to the Emirates.
Arsenal had the chance to open the scoring when Martin Odegaard swung in a sumptuous ball for Gabriel Jesus who cushioned a goal-bound chance for Granit Xhaka but the Swiss maverick didn’t connect well with the ball and guided it wide. With Xhaka in a more advanced role this season, we have seen the Swiss midfielder have so many touches in the box, as well as a goal against Leicester and a couple of assists.
The clearest chance of the game occurred late in the first half when Bukayo Saka was clean on goal, but the Fulham shot stopper, Leno, was on hand to make a big save. I know it’s just four games into the new campaign, but Saka hasn’t seemed to kick into the next gear, and we will need him to start firing soon, especially with Nicolas Pepe leaving the club to OGC Nice.
Fulham got the first goal against the run of play when Gabriel Magalhaes dallied on the ball in front of his box, got robbed by Mitrovic, who wasted no time in slotting the ball past the onrushing Aaron Ramsdale. It was a terrible goal to concede in all ramifications, bearing in mind that Arsenal was on the ascendancy with Leno making two fine stops from Odegaard and Jesus, but the lads kept pushing and the home fans rallied their players on. The Gunners got the goal their play deserved when Odegaard latched onto Saka’s ball and blasted a shot that deflected off Tosin Adarabioyo’s shin which went past the petulant Leno.
That goal lifted the spirits of the Arsenal faithful and it was all about going for the kill, but Fulham weren’t pushovers. Fulham almost grabbed an unlikely winner when Ramsdale made an outstanding save from a Mitrovic point blank header, with Ben White blocking the rebound from De Cordova-Reid. Arteta brought on Eddie Nketiah for Tierney, making loads of tactical switches that saw Jesus move to the left, Martinelli to the right and Saka to left back, but eventually he switched back to default mode and the Gunners kept on pressing till they got the breakthrough in the 85th minute.
Martinelli, whose deliveries left a lot to be desired in the course of the game, swung in a delightful corner that was attacked by William Saliba and Leno. The German goalie came out second best and Gabriel was on hand to side foot the ball into an unguarded net, sending the Emirates to raptures. There was some level of anxiety when the VAR folks did their thing, but in the end, it was given and Arsenal got a vital lead. After what seemed like an eternity of stoppage time, the ref’s whistle was like music to the ears of everyone connected with Arsenal, as sheer elation took center stage, with the Gunners returning to pole position in the Premier League.
Rewind to last season and Arsenal was just winning their first game of the season against Norwich following their shambolic losses in a row. Oh! How things have changed at the Emirates.
Something is brewing in this Arsenal side and you can see the togetherness of the lads, management and fans. When Saliba scored an unfortunate own goal against Leicester, everyone rallied around him, encouraging him and lifting his spirits, and he went on to have a stellar game. Gabriel is a great player no doubt, but he has these moments when he loses concentration in critical periods, which go unpunished more times than not, but yesterday was different as it was a glaring error that led to a goal. He played like a man on a mission from that moment onwards, with support from everyone around him, and it was really pleasing to see that he turned out to be the man that secured a gritty victory for his side. Kudos to him
The tight Premier League schedule sees Aston Villa and yet another ex-Arsenal goalie, Emiliano Martinez, visit the Emirates, so we can bask on the euphoria of sitting at the summit of the Premier League for yet another week.
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Posted on August 28, 2022, in Arsenal, Football, Match Report, Premier League and tagged Arsenal, Football, Fulham, Premier League. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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