Result: Arsenal 2 – 2 Fulham
Competition: Premier League
Date: 26 August 2023
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Partey, White, Saliba, Kiwior, Rice, Odegaard, Havertz, Martinelli, Saka, Trossard
Subs: Raya, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Vieira, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Nketiah, Jesus
Arsenal had to share the spoils with Fulham at home due to errors leading to goal. A misplaced pass allowed Fulham to score within the first minute.
The Gunners hit back with 2 goals after the second half (Saka penalty and Nketiah tap in) thanks to inspired substitutes in Zinchenko, Nketiah and Vieira changing the course of the match.
However, poor defending late into the game allowed Fulham to equalise from a corner. Despite the 9 minute stoppage time, Arsenal couldn’t find the third goal despite coming close with multiple attempts.
Arteta rang some changes to the team that held off Crystal Palace on Monday night. Tomiyasu was serving his suspension so Kiwior took his place on the left side of defence, with Gabriel still only making the bench amidst rumours of a transfer to Saudi Arabia.
Despite scoring 2 goals in 2 games, Nketiah was replaced by Trossard as the focal point of the attack. Gabriel Jesus made the bench after an early return from injury.
Arsenal continued to play their high risk, highly mobile backline. It looked from the outset that Partey was at right centre back who stepping into midfield while Ben White was out wide at right back.
This unusual movements bamboozled Arsenal’s own automatisms – Rice rushed his pass to Saka who misplaced his back pass to the gap left by Partey. In ran Pereira to steal the ball, drive into space and striked from afar to catch an backpedalling Ramsdale off guard at his near post. It was 0-1 to Fulham, all within the first minute.
The rest of the half was a picture of urgency and high tempo by both teams. Arsenal chased the game and hustled to make the runs and win the ball from Fulham. Martinelli was a ball of energy down the left and exchanged positions with Trossard to find gaps in Fulham’s organised defence. The Brazilian had a few attempts on goal but often had his attempts comfortably saved.
Havertz often threatened with his movement from deeper but always seemed to be a fraction off with his timing and connection with his teammates. Saka, too, went close with a close range header that bounced off the turf from close range but bounced up and over the cross bar.
But it wasn’t all Arsenal. Fulham were very alert to pounce on loose passes by the home side and were dangerous on the break – a Jimenez overhead kick almost making it 0-2 as it slightly missed the top corner.
The half ended with another near miss, this time by the languid Havertz. Put through behind the defensive line down the left, he cut back for Odegaard who razed in a daisy cutter into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. Again, Havertz was a second too early with his run, getting caught offside and had the goal ruled out.
The idea with his runs are always there, but unfortunately, the timing was always off.
Arteta called for more firepower and it was Nketiah who came on for Trossard at the start of the half. Arsenal missed the Belgian’s connectivity as both Havertz and Nketiah were more focused in off the ball runs.
A change of direction was needed and Arteta made his next substitutes on the 55th minute. Partey and Havertz made way for Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira as the defence shifts right to accommodate the inverting and playmaking Ukrainian.
The movements and passing were sharp from both the subs and it was Vieira who was decisive on 67 minutes. His overlapping run drew Tete in for a tackle. The Fulham defender caught Vieira’s legs and the ref had no choice but to call for a penalty. After a restart, Saka made no mistake from the spot. 1-1 Arsenal
It was Vieira again who was influential just minutes later. Arsenal robbed Fulham’s defence of the ball while they were calling for a stoppage due to an arm injury by Bassey. They was no whistle and Saka distributed the ball to Vieira on the left wing. With a curved pass, he expertly found Nketiah who calmly tapped in to take Arsenal forward and make it 2 goals in 3 games. 2-1 Arsenal
Fulham chased the game but Arsenal stood strong under pressure, distributing the ball calmly when they regained possession. Come the 85th minute, the game should have been done and dusted as Nketiah raced onto a clearance and was caught by Bassey for his second yellow.
10 men Fulham vs a full Arsenal team who now have brought on Jorginho for Odegaard. Surely the game was over but slack defending during a corner saw Palhinha sneak in to score an equaliser late in the game. 2-2 Fulham
Jesus came on for Rice on 90th minute and there was a full on assault for 9 minutes of stoppage time. Arsenal pushed hard, with a sensational overhead attempt by Vieira saved and another long ranger from the Portuguese tipped over the bar. Kiwior was also a fraction of a second too late with a point blank attempt though the complexion of the game could have been different had a blistering Adama Traore counter not been saved by Ramsdale.
In the end, Arsenal had to settle for just 1 point despite all the hustling due to a lack of concentration during crucial moments of the game. If they were to challenge for the title, the Gunners need to be sharper through the 90 minutes.