Arsenal stay perfect with a late 2-1 win over Fulham.
The home side were on top from kick off, as Fulham retreated towards their box and invited on pressure. Time and again, the Gunners were just one pass away from carving the Cottagers open.
On the few occasions that they did, former Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno was there to close down the danger. Arsenal’s best chance of the opening half came in the 34th minute when Bukayo Saka slipped into the box and made himself space with a clever piece of skill. With just Leno to beat, Saka’s shot lacked conviction and the keeper denied him well.
Frustration began to seep in for the home side as the half drew to a close, and Gabriel Jesus was booked for a coming together with Joao Palhinha.
Too often, Arsenal’s promising attacks broke down at the last moment. Fulham took a surprise lead after nearly an hour when Gabriel was caught dawdling in possession in his own box. Aleksandr Mitrovic robbed him of possession and fired the visitors ahead, scoring his 100th goal for Fulham.
Odegaard, Arsenal’s best and most influential player, pulled them back level in the 64th minute. The Norwegian’s shot took a big deflection to beat Leno.
Arsenal piled on the pressure after the equaliser. Chance after chance was missed, but with five minutes to play Gabriel scrambled home the winner from a chaotic corner to keep the Gunners top of the league for another week at least.
TALKING POINT – ARE ARSENAL THE REAL DEAL?
The Gunners are perfect through four matches. This is already their best start since they last won the Premier League title. They are playing with confidence and fluidity. The win over Fulham was the first time that they’ve faced any kind of adversity, and they responded well in mounting a comeback after Gabriel’s horror error.
Obviously, on a day where Liverpool won 9-0 and Manchester City stormed back from 2-0 down to win 4-2, it would be madness to name the Gunners as Premier League favourites, but do we have to start considering them as title contenders?
Bigger tests lay ahead. Arsenal have so far played three desperately poor teams, and Crystal Palace, but they’ve beaten them all and looked good doing it.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – MARTIN ODEGAARD
Arsenal’s playmaker was brilliant against Fulham. In Arsenal’s utterly dominant opening 30 minutes, it was Odegaard pulling the strings. As Fulham grew into the game, and even took the lead, still Odegaard looked unflappable. It was no surprise that the Norwegian got the equaliser, even if it required a fortunate deflection on the way.
Odegaard took on responsibility, taking three shots, but was also unselfish in dealing out chances for his teammates. He made more dribbles than any other player on the pitch, and made as many tackles as any Arsenal player.
It was a brave, captain’s performance from the Norwegian.
Arsenal: Ramsdale 6, White 5, Saliba 6, Gabriel 5, Tierney 6, Elneny 6, Xhaka 7, Saka 6, Odegaard 9, Martinelli 7, Jesus 7 Subs: Tomiyasu N/A, Holding N/A, Nketiah 6
Fulham: Leno 9, Tete 6, Tosin 5, Ream 7, Robinson 7, Palhinha 8, Reed 6, Pereira 6, Kebano 6, Mitrovic 7, Reid 6 Subs: Mbabu 6, Diop N/A, Chalobah N/A, Cairney 6, Stansfield N/A
15’ – XHAKA PUTS IT WIDE
Odegaard plays a lovely ball into the box from the right touchline towards Jesus. The Brazilian chests it down and plays it right into the path of Xhaka who sidefoots his shot wide.
29’ – LAST DITCH CLEARANCE FULHAM
Tim Ream is at full stretch to clear the ball virtually off the toes of Gabriel Jesus as the Brazilian prepares to shoot.
34’ – SAKA DENIED BY LENO
A clever flick between his own legs makes space for Saka to shoot but Leno is quickly out to deny him.
56′ – GOAL FULHAM
A colossal error from Gabriel in his own box hands possession to Aleksandr Mitrovic. With just the goalkeeper to beat, and plenty of time, Mitrovic fires his shot low and hard past the sprawling Ramsdale.
64′ – GOAL ARSENAL
Martin Odegaard receives possession on the edge of the box, makes space and fires his shot into the leg of Fulham defender Adarabioyo. The shot takes a big deflection and Leno is finally beaten.
82′ – NKETIAH WITH A BIG CHANCE
Martinelli is in acres of space down the left flank and fires his cross into the feet of Nketiah. The English forward has time but fires his shot right down the throat of Leno.
86′ – GOAL ARSENAL
Gabriel scrambles home a late winner, taking advantage of chaotic Fulham defender at a corner.