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Arsenal 2-2 Fulham: Ditch This New Formation!!!

Arsenal slammed for having 'zero class' after scoring controversial goal  against Fulham | The Sun

Nketiah celebrating his goal

Match Report – Match Highlights  Player Ratings – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 2-2 Fulham (Saka 70′, Nketiah 73′ | Pereira 1′, J. Palhinha 87′)

Arsenal XI (4-3-3): Ramsdale; Kiwior, Saliba, White, Partey (Zinchenko 56′); Rice (G. Jesus 91′), Havertz (F. Vieira 56′), Odegaard (Jorginho 84′); Saka, Trossard (Nketiah 46′), Martinelli

Mikel Arteta certainly promised us that Arsenal will be unpredictable this season, as it was believed that the Gunners were a one-trick pony last season. Using the same 4-2-3-1 setup with the same starting XI for almost the entirety of the season before injuries and lack of depth in certain positions forced the manager to make some changes that took off the rails of the Premier League title challenge. Arsenal brought in some depth and much needed quality this summer with the acquisitions of Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber and Declan Rice, but in the first three Premier League games of the season, Arteta has fielded a new tactical setup that hasn’t clicked from the disjointed performances so far.

The game against Nottingham Forest was settled by a piece of individual brilliance from Bukayo Saka but Arsenal failed to break down their visitors, with Nottingham Forest finishing the game with an 0.86 xGC, which was evident that the home team failed to attack them effectively. The Crystal Palace game was a different scenario, with the red card to Takehiro Tomiyasu forcing the team to revert to Satanball to preserve the lead. 

There were some tweaks in the starting lineup, as Jakub Kiwior replaced Tomiyasu instead of Gabriel, and Leandro Trossard got his first start of the season ahead of Eddie Nketiah. 

Just when we trying to settle into the contest, Arsenal conceded after 57 seconds, which has now become a theme for Mikel Arteta’s side. After some simple passing play, Bukayo Saka inexplicably passed the ball in behind the defense to who he thought was his right back, but Thomas Partey had already gone to midfield to invert, so Andreas Pereira bore down on goal and was one on one with Aaron Ramsdale. Pereira’s idea was to lob the ball over Ramsdale, but he made a mess of that, dinking the ball at a considerable height, but Ramsdale was flat-footed and lost his bearings, allowing the Fulham player to score the opening goal of the day.

Last season, Arsenal conceded in the first minute in two Premier League games, and the ghosts of seasons past came to haunt us against Fulham. Martin Odegaard located Gabriel Martinelli with a sumptuous cross field ball but the Brazilian’s attempt was wide off the mark. Arsenal’s defense were in sixes and sevens when Fulham broke away on the break but Harry Wilson’s finishing let him down and the good chance went begging. 

Arsenal began pressing for the equalizer, and Saka reached the ball deep in the danger area and lobbed it to the six yard box, but Kai Havertz somehow managed to play the ball back to Saka in an offside position with a gaping goal in his front. However, we can attribute that miss to the pressure exerted on him by Issa Diop. Partey noticed Havertz on the clear and dinked a pass into space, but Havertz lacked the pace to reach the ball on time, with Bernd Leno smothering the effort.

Arsenal kept probing but failed to penetrate as the players kept firing very weak shots at Leno. Martinelli had a shot saved, Saka went to the byline and drilled in a cross that none of his teammates attacked, then it was the turn of Fulham to trade punches, as Raul Jimenez executed a neat bicycle kick that missed by a lick of paint and when William Saliba uncharacteristically gave the ball away to the opposition, Pereira fed Wilson whose shot was off target. 

Arsenal had a glorious chance to get the equalizer when Trossard drifted to the left wing and swung a cross that was on the money but Saka’s header at point blank range was shocking to say the least. Martinelli had two more chances to score after receiving passes from Trossard and Rice but his shots at Leno were very tame. Late in the first half, Odegaard received a pass from Saka and blasted one at goal but Leno was on hand to make yet another save. In my opinion, they were more of poor quality misses than high quality saves but hey, he was raking them alright.

Arteta responded with a half time substitution, bringing on Eddie Nketiah for Trossard to add a focal point to the attack, as Trossard tended to drop too deep in midfield for a considerable chunk of the first half. Saka continued the pressure with a well-struck shot that was saved and clearly it was evident that Saka and Martinelli weren’t enjoying themselves with this new tactical switch. Last season, Saka had Odegaard and most importantly, Ben White to work with but with Partey inverting to midfield, Saka was always isolated. Martinelli hardly works well with Nketiah, so both wingers were out of the equation.

Arteta finally saw that his current setup was taking him nowhere, so he reverted to the formation that got him the goods last season, bringing on Oleksandr Zinchenko for Thomas Partey and Fabio Vieira came on for the ineffectual Havertz. This switch saw White switch from center back to right back, with Kiwior playing alongside Saliba. Declan Rice was the anchor #6 with Vieira playing left #8 and Odegaard playing right #8. 

Arsenal’s fluidity took center stage and they were rewarded for their efforts when Vieira was scythed down in the box by Kenny Tete for an Arsenal penalty. This time, Saka resumed penalty duties instead of Odegaard and scored the high-pressure spot kick, sending Leno the wrong way to equalize the contest. Three minutes later, Vieira drilled in a carefully-threaded ball to Nketiah’s path who side-footed the ball home to send the Emirates into raptures.

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!!!

Late on, Arteta took out Odegaard for Jorginho for game management, and I expected Arsenal to see the game out, especially with Fulham going down to 10 men when Calvin Bassey receiving his marching orders for a second bookable offense. However, Arsenal conceded a late equalizer to Fulham when Joao Palhinha somehow managed to fire a low drive from a very poor corner kick, with three players static in the defense, instead of attacking the ball. That goal knocked the wind of Arsenal’s sails and even the late introduction of Gabriel Jesus wasn’t enough, as Arsenal dropped two valuable points.

This results fills me with a lot of anger because this was a game that was supposed to be a routine win for Arsenal. Arteta expressed his disappointment in the post-match presser, but the manager has to take the blame for what has been a failed experiment so far this season. Thomas Partey is a monumental player for the team and adding a generational talent like Declan Rice alongside him is meant to make Arsenal’s midfield one to die for, but inverting Partey as a right back, just to accommodate Kai Havertz in the team is a very poor move. Deploying Partey there negates White’s abilities to provide support to Saka in attack, and the whole shape of the team is questionable.

What’s going on between the gaffer and Gabriel? The Brazilian defender forged an amazing partnership with Saliba last season, and Arsenal had an awesome defensive shape with both players at the heart of it. This season, Saliba is playing alone in a back three that hasn’t worked, and I truly hope we revert to our usual 4-2-3-1 formation henceforth. It is evident that Kai Havertz should be a depth option as he hasn’t justified his inclusion in the squad from what we have seen so far. 

This was a very huge disappointment.

Please ditch the new formation. 


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Arsenal 2-2 Fulham: Player Ratings

Arsenal slammed for having 'zero class' after scoring controversial goal  against Fulham | The Sun

Arsenal hosted Fulham at the Emirates Stadium and expected to gain maximum points against a team that always struggles against them. Prior to the game, Arteta was questioned about the fluidity of the team as the play still looks very disjointed in this current setup. The game came to life when Arteta reverted to his 4-2-3-1 setup, but lethargic defending saw the Gunners drop points late on despite Fulham down to 10 men.

Without further ado, here are the Gooner Daily player ratings for the Arsenal vs. Fulham game.

Starting XI

Aaron Ramsdale: He was relatively untested but his footing was very questionable for the first goal conceded. Did well to block an Adama Traore shot that would have given Fulham all three points. (6)

Ben White: Came to life when the tactical switch saw the Gunners change formation and move him to right back. Did well to support the attack as the Gunners surged to take the game by the scruff of its neck. (7)

William Saliba: Was quite sloppy with his passing, but did well to make some tackles. (7)

Thomas Partey: Continued the inverted right back role and was phenomenal in breaking up play on the right hand side of the defense. (7)

Jakub Kiwior: Was favored ahead of Gabriel and looked tidy with the ball at his feet. Had a moment in attack when he should have reacted better to poke in a corner. (6)

Declan Rice: Made some vital interceptions and anticipations to kill off Fulham attacks. (6)

Kai Havertz: Brought some of that disgusting Chelsea form with so many sloppy passes and failure to time his runs as he was caught offside a lot of times. (5)

Martin Odegaard: Did well to create chances for his teammates and had some shots that were saved by Fulham’s goalie. (6)

Gabriel Martinelli: Looked very frustrated at the left flank and struggled to get pass the Fulham right back. (5)

Bukayo Saka: Bar the converted penalty, he had a poor game by his fair standards. (5)

Leandro Trossard: Was deployed to feature as a center forward and dropped too deep to midfield. When he was in attack, his first touch was prime Romelu Lukaku. Wasn’t surprised to see him yanked off at half time. (5)


Eddie Nketiah: Continued to stake a claim for first team football with a brilliant one-timed finish that was meant to be the match winner. Also did well to launch a counter attack that got Calvin Bassey sent off. (8)

Fabio Vieira: Was a live wire with the ball at his feet and played his finest minutes as an Arsenal player with two assists, and a late curler that almost got his side all three points. (9)

Oleksandr Zinchenko: Added impetus to Arsenal’s attack as Arteta reverted to his regular formation of last season. (7)

Jorginho: Did not play enough to earn a rating. N/A


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Fulham Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Gabriel makes up for error to score winning goal as  Gunners make it four wins from four - Eurosport

Following Arsenal’s narrow win over Crystal Palace on Monday, the Gunners host Fulham and will be hoping to maintain their 100 percent record in the Premier League. Head coach, Mikel Arteta, took some questions in his pre-Fulham press conference and they hovered around the selection of Gabriel, fluidity and officials apologizing. For an important player that featured in the last 73 Premier League encounters only to be benched in back-to-back games, some concerns will be raised, but Arteta was adamant that Gabriel will ‘play a lot of games’. 

More importantly, he was asked about him sacrificing the fluidity of the team to try new ideas,

“No, I want maximum fluidity with the team. The thing is that there are teams that want to allow you to have more fluidity in certain moments or areas, and results are very driving into that. And others that they’re going to allow you less. We played two, three very different games obviously, because the Manchester City game [in the Community Shield] was very different in terms of fluidity and then we had moments in games against Forest and Palace where we had a lot of moments and others that were very difficult when you’re attacking 10 men in those spaces. So fluidity is not probably the word that is going to come out like the best.”

Unless you’re living under a rock with no access to Cable TV, internet and social media, you can tell from the first two Premier League games that Arsenal’s performances have been very disjointed, despite the Gunners getting maximum points from both games. A new formation has taken center stage and with new personnel to boot. The expectation is that it might take some time to bed in, but I wonder why we didn’t utilize it effectively during preseason. Well, we are getting the results we want, so I guess we can sweep it under the carpet for now.

Fulham can consider themselves lucky to win their opening match of the season after conceding such a high xG to Everton, with ex-Gunner, Bernd Leno, taking center stage, being the club’s hero on the day, but last week, Fulham were thrashed resoundingly by a rampant Brentford side in front of their own fans. Their cause will not be helped with that their apex predator in attack, Aleksandr Mitrovic, has left for the oil-rich greens of Saudi Arabia after scoring 111 goals in 206 games for them. They signed Raul Jimenez from Wolves, so the onus will be on the Mexican to come up with the goods, but Jimenez is no longer the player he used to be after his skull was fractured by David Luiz.

Fulham will have it all to do, as their record in the home ground of Arsenal is very shambolic, with Arsenal winning 25 of the last 26 matches. Fulham are winless in their last 10 matches against Arsenal in the Premier League and have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 16 such games in the competition. The last time both teams met, Leandro Trossard stole the show with a hat-trick of assists at Craven Cottage.

To team news, Gabriel Jesus miraculously returned to training, to the delight of everyone associated. We love Eddie Nketiah for always putting an amazing shift anytime he’s summoned to do the business, but Jesus adds a very different dimension to our attack, and most importantly, brings everyone else into the game. For some strange reason, Gabriel Martinelli is always isolated when Nketiah leads the line. With Manchester United in the horizon, I suspect Jesus will get some minutes off Nketiah today to bring himself to speed before Arsenal take on the Red Devils. 

Takehiro Tomiyasu remains suspended for his laughable sending off against Crystal Palace, while Mohamed Elneny and Jurrien Timber are the long term absentees. Fulham has a relatively clean bill of health to contend with, with ex-Gunner, Willian, the only player that could be potentially out for selection with a knock. Joao Palhinha has also recovered from his shoulder injury suffered in preseason but Tim Ream will also be unavailable for selection for the red card he received when Brentford visited Craven Cottage last week.

Arsenal and Fulham Predicted Lineups

Arsenal: Ramsdale; Partey, Saliba, White, Zinchenko; Rice, Havertz, Odegaard; Martinelli, Nketiah, Saka.

Crystal Palace: Leno; Robinson, Bassey, Diop, Tete; Joao Palhinha, Reed, Pereira; Willian, De Cordova-Reid, Jimenez

Injury / Suspension Updates

Arsenal: Mo Elneny, Jurrien Timber (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus (lack of match fitness), Takehiro Tomiyasu (suspension)

FulhamWillian (knock), Tim Ream (suspension)

Form Guide

Arsenal Form

  • Last Five Games: W D D W W
  • Last Result: Crystal Palace 0-1 Arsenal (Odegaard 53′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard (1)


  • Last Five Games:  L L W W L
  • Last Result: Fulham 0-3 Brentford (Wissa 44′, Mbeumo 66′, 92′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Bobby Reid (1)

Gooner Daily predicts a 3 – 0 win.

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