Three factors that stood out in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Fulham

Arsenal players celebrate with Mikel Arteta after beating Fulham in the Premier League (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
Arsenal players celebrate with Mikel Arteta after beating Fulham in the Premier League (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images) /
Arsenal Fulham
Former Gunner Bernd Leno of Fulham claims an Arsenal cross during Saturday’s Premier League match. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images) /

Arsenal defeated Fulham 2-1 in a Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday to register their fourth consecutive win and remain at the top of the table with 12 points.

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored the opening goal in the 56th minute for the visitors, but Martin Odegaard and Gabriel scored in the 64th and 86th minute, respectively, to win the match for the Gunners.

Mikel Arteta’s side showed exceptional resolve to bounce back and assert their supremacy.

On that note, let’s take a look at three factors that stood out in the match.

Arsenal dominated proceedings initially, Odegaard ran the show

Both teams opened in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Kieran Tirney and Mohamed Elneny replacing Arsenal starters Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey, both of whom were injured. Odegaard kept dropping back to the half line to orchestrate moves for the Gunners, just like in their last match against Bournemouth.

Odegaard played a few wonderful long passes with his left foot to create space for his team, but the Arsenal forwards were not able to make good use of them. As expected, Arsenal dominated possession from the start of the match.  They had 64% possession during the first 15 minutes and that number went further up as the match progressed. Arsenal finished the first half with more than 70% possession.

However, for all their ball-possession and fluid passing football, the Gunners could not trouble Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno, a former Arsenal player. They did not register a single shot on target during the first half-hour as the Fulham centre-backs were strong with their tackles.

Gunners create chances, but lack presence up front

Arsenal started creating better chances as the first half drew to a close. Gabriel Martinelli’s corner hit the crossbar and then Bukayo Saka, tireless with his runs in the first half, played a few one-twos with Odegaard, before seeing his shot from inside the box saved by an advancing Leno.

As Odegaard kept dropping back and Gabriel Jesus favored the left flank, the Gunners often lacked presence in the central areas of the final third. Their formation effectively turned 4-1-4-1 with Granit Xhaka playing in an advanced role and often surging forward. However, Xhaka’s offensive skills were not sharp enough to break through the Fulham defense and his best effort sailed over the crossbar to deny the Gunners a great opportunity.

Moreover, Arsenal were not particularly active through the right flank as Saka was left alone there. Ben White did not make a single overlapping run in the first half until the very last minute. Saka kept shifting inside to fill in the gaps in the central areas for Arsenal, which meant that there was none at times on the right flank. Arsenal attacked a lot through the left with Tierney, Jesus and Martinelli combining well, but their efforts were not enough to break the deadlock.

Enthralling, eventful second half sees hosts prevail

The second half started on an exciting note as Odegaard and Saka saw shots saved by Leno within the space of a minute. However, Fulham surprised the hosts by scoring first. Gabriel held onto the ball quite unnecessarily near the Arsenal penalty box, and was dispossessed by Mitrovic, who finished superbly to stun the Gunners.

Arteta reacted soon thereafter, introducing Eddie Nketiah in place of Tierney so that Martinelli started playing a bit deeper as the de-facto left-back. Nketiah’s introduction gave the Gunners the much needed speed and presence around the opposition penalty box. Saka then played yet another pass to Odegaard, whose shot took a deflection off a Fulham player before finding the net. Odegaard’s long passes, work-rate and ability to score crucial goals kept reminding one of a certain Kevin De Bruyne repeatedly.

However, there was more drama to come as Saka shifted to left back, Jesus became the left winger and Martinelli moved wide right to shake things up for the Gunners. Gabriel’s redemption happened from a corner when Leno failed to punch the ball and it reached the Brazilian off William Saliba’s head. Gabriel made no mistake, nodding the ball home to put Arsenal ahead.

dark. Next. 3 factors that stood out in Arsenal win v Bournemouth

Arsenal’s escape act was thus complete, but Mitrovic kept threatening via his aerial prowess and Nathaniel Chalobah missed a great chance from a free kick to draw level.