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Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Gabriel Goes From Zero to Hero

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Premier League report, goals and highlights as Gunners  come from behind to triumph | The Independent

Pandemonium at the Emirates!!

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.

Arsenal rally to beat Fulham 2-1 and stay perfect | Loop Caribbean News

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.

Sayonara

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Arsenal 2 Fulham 0: Saint Santi to the Rescue!

Image

Emirates Stadium (Premier League)

Arsenal: Cazorla (58′, 62′) 

Player Ratings (via Gooner of Steel)Match HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

Arsene Wenger had stated that he wanted his team to produce consistent results against the so-called bottom teams and the opportunity presented itself when a struggling Fulham side visited the Emirates. Despite the fact that everyone was hoping to see Lukas Podolski get some game time against such opposition, Wenger opted for the exact squad that was victorious at Villa Park and I was rather surprised to see Nacho Monreal strut his stuff on the left.

Arsenal threatened from the onset as Bacary Sagna found some space on the right and lofted a cross to Olivier Giroud but Burn rose the highest to head the ball to safety. Arsenal continued their free-flowing football and almost went ahead after some intricate passing play between Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil. The German maestro played the ball past Maarten Stekelenberg but Brede Hangeland was on hand to clear the ball away from the line.

Fulham made a rear foray forward when Dimitar Berbatov swung a cross from the right that was headed away by Sagna. Steve Sidwell latched onto the loose ball and fired a fierce shot at goal but Wojciech Szczesny made a rather unorthodox save. Fulham launched another rear attack through Ashkan Dejagah but Szczesny showed his bravery to anticipate the ball.

Santi Cazorla fired a free kick but the wall did it’s job and the loose ball fell to Sagna that blasted a goalward shot that was parried by Stekelenberg. Giroud fired the ball straight at the goalie in the follow up but he was ruled offside. Serge Gnabry made some space for himself to blast a fierce shot with his left foot but the gaolie made another fine stop. Later in the half, there was a concern for Per Mertesacker when he tumbled into Mathieu Flamini and got a whack on the head.

The second half began with a frantic pace and Fulham almost capitalized on a goalmouth scramble but Giroud made an important defensive block. On the other end, Giroud created a half chance for himself but his shot was straight at the goalie. Gnabry and Cazorla also stung the keeper’s hands with some shots and it seemed as if it was one of those days when the goalie would take all the plaudits for a good performance against Arsenal.

It wasn’t to be a day for Fulham’s goalie as Cazorla instigated a move that saw Ozil and Wilshere exchange passes before he slid onto the Englishman’s deft pass to send the Emirates faithful into raptures. While the fans were basking in the euphoria of getting the lead, Saint Santi latched onto a loose ball from Monreal’s cross to fire a left-footed drive that sailed past the goalie to make it two.

Giroud twisted his ankle after a clash with Sidwell but Wenger decided that it was the Lukas Podolski show when he brought on the German for his compatriot, Serge Gnabry. Within minutes of his arrival, Podolski blasted a shot that was parried by the goalie into the post. Podolski and Ozil worked in tandem to provide a chance for Giroud but his effort went over the bar.

Ozil’s time was up with five minutes left to spare as the boss summoned the services of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He almost marked his cameo appearance with a goal but his header sailed effortlessly over the bar. Right at the death, Darren Bent had a Fernando Torres moment when he successfully evaded the challenge of Szczesny but his effort went wide.

With Manchester City getting an expected routine win over Cardiff, anything less than a victory yesterday against a struggling Fulham would have been a major disappointment. Arsene Wenger would be afforded the chance to rotate his team a bit with the visit of Coventry City on Friday.

Here’s to Saint Santi Cazorla, Arsenal’s hero of the day.

Sayonara.

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Fulham Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

I hope Podolski gets a chance to play today

With the games coming thick and fast, the Gunners are hoping to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League but they have the threat of Manchester City to contend with, as Cardiff visits the dreaded Etihad Stadium and are expected to be swept aside by a wave of attacking football.

Since the shocking opening day defeat to Aston Villa, the Gunners have sorted out their issues at home, notching up seven victories and two draws thus far. If they truly want to get a shot at the title, they need to make their home ground a fortress, like the Etihad that has been a model of consistency all season long.

Since that disappointing stalemate against Chelsea in late December, Arsenal has won five games on the trot and would be in bullish mode ahead of this encounter. Fulham’s record against the Gunners is downright shambolic as the Cottagers have also never won at Arsenal in 27 attempts, losing 22 and drawing the other five. This record spans up to 110 years, as Arsenal has never lost at home to Fulham in any competition.

However, Fulham has escaped the Emirates with a point in their last two games on the ground. Last season, Olivier Giroud and Dimitar Berbatov netted twice but it’s a game Mikel Arteta would want to forget quickly as he missed a 94th minute penalty that wold have handed his team all three points.

Arsenal's Mikel Arteta holds his head in his hands after he misses penalty against Fulham.

Arsenal have also kept clean sheets in seven of their last eight games at the Emirates Stadium and have won their last eight games against teams in the bottom six of the Premier League table. Arsene Wenger also believes that beating the bottom teams is vital in the run-in for the Premier League title.

Solidity at the back has been a hallmark of Arsenal’s success at the Emirates Stadium this term, with just six goals conceded in 10 Premier League matches. Arsenal also have the joint best defensive record in the league with Everton, conceding 19 league goals this season and keeping nine clean sheets.

Fulham on the other hand, have the worst defense in the Premier League, as they have shipped in 46 goals in the 21 games they’ve played so far. They have also conceded four goals to each of Everton, Manchester City and Sunderland and six to Hull in the space of the last month or so and have the fewest clean sheets (3) in the League.

Under the reins of Rene Meulensteen, Fulham has endured a somewhat inconsistent campaign and are just one point above the drop zone. Last weekend’s shock reverse Adam Johnson-inspired 4-1 loss a bitter pill to swallow, as the Cottagers lost to a fellow relegation dog fighter.

The club would hinge their hopes on the aging Berbatov that has decided not to renew his deal with the club and my buddy at Canon Crested says that this game could be an ‘audition’ for him. He was linked with a 2m move to the Emirates, via ESPN, but I don’t see Wenger taking a punt for him. The club is more concerned about some bloke called Paul-Georges Ntep. Bleeeeh.

Ashkan Dejagah and Adel Taarabt (or Tarabat, as Victor Ikpeba would call it) would provide trickery on the flanks for the opposition while the likes of vice skipper, Scotty Parker, and former Gunner trainee, Steve Sidwell, would want to sit deep and protect the back four. I must say that Parker and Sidwell have been doing a marvelous job protecting their back four, as they have conceded 46 goals, and I hope they continue in the same vein today.

However, Fulham poses a threat from set pieces as Steve Sidwell’s goal against Sunderland last weekend was Fulham’s seventh from a corner this season; a record matched only by Manchester City. There’s also the scourge, Darren Bent, has scored seven goals in 11 Premier League appearances against Arsenal.

To injury news, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are back to full fitness and will be available for selection. Elsewhere, Walcott’s knee surgery was a success and as we all know, he’s out for the season. The boss has confirmed that Mikel Arteta (calf), Nicklas Bendtner (ankle), Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and Thomas Vermaelen will remain on the sidelines.

Tomas Rosicky had an operation on his broken nose and may play with the aid of a mask, while Nacho Monreal remains a doubt following his nasty foot injury against Aston Villa.

The away team will be boosted by the return of their captain, Brede Hangeland, that had been out since October with a sciatic nerve problem, but helped the side to a first clean sheet in eight matches in the FA Cup replay against struggling Norwich. Fernando Amorebieta would face a late fitness test, but I see a fully-fit Aaron Hughes playing in his stead.

At Arsenal, I’d expect an unchanged lineup from the side that dug out a win in Villa Park but I would love to see Lukas Podolski start on the left while Santi Cazorla drifts to the right flank ahead of Serge Gnabry. Podolski is badly in need of game time and I believe that this match offers him the perfect opportunity to stake a claim for a first-team berth, as he was synonymous with the first team last season.

My predicted lineups would look like this,

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formationFulham 4-5-1 football formation

In case you’re not chanced to see the game, you can listen to the live audio on Arsenal Player.

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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