It is now four wins from four for Mikel Arteta’s side but Arsenal were made to work hard for the victory against a dogged Fulham side who didn’t make it easy for their London rivals. The Whites withstood Gunners pressure before taking the lead through Aleksandr Mitrovic. But goals from Martin Odegaard and Gabriel ultimately sent Arsenal fans home happy.
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.