Daily Archives: March 13, 2023
Final Result: Fulham 0-3 Arsenal (Gabriel 22′, Martinelli 26′, Odegaard 46′)
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White (Tomiyasu 80′), Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Tierney 72′); Partey, Xhaka; Saka (Nelson 72′), Odegaard, Martinelli (F. Vieira 77′); Trossard (G. Jesus 77′)
Arsenal knew they had a different fish to fry following the draw against Sporting CP in Lisbon, but they came up against opponents that they had a very good record against. Fulham are one of the form teams in the Premier League post-World Cup, but they lost their last game to Brentford and were hoping to make amends against the League leaders. Tosin Adarabioyo replaced Issa Diop, and Cordova-Reid got the nod ahead of former Gunner, Willian, who was nursing a back issue.
Arsenal dominated the game from the onset with their slick passing play and possession football, so it wasn’t a surprise when the Gunners scored the first goal of the day, even though VAR spared Fulham’s blushes. Gabriel Martinelli teed up Granit Xhaka and made a slalom run in behind his marker, Tete. Xhaka timed his through ball to perfection, allowing Martinelli to curl one to Bernd Leno’s post, but the German shot stopper made a good save, parrying the ball to Antonee Robinson’s path, but the American fullback inadvertently bundled the ball into his own goal. It was a long wait for the VAR officials to do their thing, and after drawing the dreaded lines, it was adjudged that Martinelli was offside in the buildup. If only Lee Mason knew how to draw this line. Meh.
That set back didn’t deter the Gunners as they kept attacking, and Mikel Arteta’s side got their just rewards for their efforts with Gabriel jumping the highest to guide Leandro Trossard’s corner kick home. Goals from every part of the pitch are highly welcome, and its always good to see the central defenders getting in on the scoring act from time to time. The commentator mentioned that Arsenal had avoided defeat in their last 27 Premier League games when they scored the opening goal, with the last time breaking that record was Manchester City in January 2022.
The Arsenal fans were still basking in the euphoria of the match opener when the second goal arrived in quick succession. Some astute thinking from William Saliba at the back saw him dinked a sumptuous ball to Xhaka with his left foot. The Swiss cyborg wasted no time to teeing up Trossard who shimmied past his marker before lofting the ball to the danger area. Robinson unleashed his inner Trent Alexander-Arnold, showing off zero awareness as Martinelli got in front of him and nodded the ball home at point blank range. The Brazilian that had not scored in eight games now has five goals in his last four games. Red hot form indeed.
Arsenal continued to show dominance with Fulham having nothing to offer, and it was almost 3-0 after some delicious football from Arteta’s men. Martin Odegaard, who had recovered from his illness, played a ball to Xhaka but the Swiss midfielder played a dummy, allowing it to roll to Trossard. Trossard, whose creative juices were flowing all afternoon, played a perfect ball that got to Xhaka’s feet, who rushed into the box, but the Swiss midfielder failed to connect with the ball, allowing the onrushing Leno to happily claim the ball. Arsenal continued to miss good chances that would have put the game beyond doubt, with Bukayo Saka and Odegaard working together on the right before feeding Martinelli. The Brazilian put a light touch to Trossard and the Belgian’s left-footed shot at close range missed its intended target.
Arsenal was clearly in the driver’s seat for this game, and it allowed some room for complacency, which was exhibited by Aaron Ramsdale. After receiving the ball, Ramsdale thought he was Tomas Rosicky, using the outside of his boot to pass the ball directly to Andreas Pereira. Aleksandr Mitrovic was unmarked in the box, but a rush of blood to the head saw Andreas blast it goalwards from an acute angle, and that good chance for Fulham went begging.
On the Fulham defensive edge of the pitch that was constantly bombarded the way the Ottomans fiercely attacked Constantinople, Trossard found Saka on the byline, who cut the ball back to Ben White. The English fullback saw the run of Martinelli on the far post and swung in a delicate cross with his left foot, but Martinelli connected with the ball with his shin, instead of putting his laces through it, allowing Leno to make a good save.
Arsenal finally got the third goal their dominance deserved, when Trossard crossed the ball for the byline to Odegaard, who brought the ball under his spell, picked his spot, and dispatched the ball aplomb. That goals turned out to be a little piece of history as Trossard became the first player to register three assists in the first half of an away game in the Premier League.
While the first half was high-octane stuff from the Gunners, the second half was a bit more subdued with Fulham resorting to Satanball in their attempt to salvage something from the game. The closest they came was when Tosin barraged his way in the box like Marvel’s Juggernaut to attack a corner, but the ball smashed the cross bar. The replays showed that it was actually Mitrovic that got his head on the ball, even if Tosin attacked it as well.
There was an emotional moment when Gabriel Jesus made his first appearance for the club since November 2022, replacing Trossard that had an excellent game. Jesus almost had his dream moment and of course, end his long standing goal drought (yes, #TheNorthRemembers) when Fabio Vieira teed him up with only Leno to beat but his shot was aimed straight at the goalkeeper who made the save.
The win gave the Gunners the five point cushion on Manchester City, that narrowly beat Crystal Palace a day before. Everyone was happy to see Gabriel Jesus back on the pitch and we hope he gains full fitness soon, as he remains an essential cog in the well-oiled Arsenal machine. While we share our delight on the return of Jesus, the day belonged to Trossard, that put up a masterclass for the team. We thought he was going to be out for a long time when he suffered that groin injury against Bournemouth last week, so to see him out on the pitch and killing it was awesome to say the least.
The Gunners have the business of the Europa League to contend with in midweek before inviting Patrick Vieira and his gang on Sunday. More on those games in the coming days.
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