Arsenal beat Fulham 2-1 at the Emirates to remain top of the Premier League table courtesy of a late goal from Gabriel. It was the Brazilian who gifted Aleksandr Mitrovic the game’s opener earlier in the second half, but the defender made sure he scored at the other end as he tapped home the winner after Martin Odegaard’s equaliser.
Fulham proved to be the most difficult task for Arsenal as the hosts had to come from behind to secure a win for the first time this season. When the Gunners went behind, Arteta made tactical changes immediately, looking to turn his side into a more attacking proposition.
The Cottagers contributed to their own downfall, getting a deflection to Odegaard’s equaliser, while ex-Arsenal stopper Leno took his eye well and truly off the ball to gift the home team a winner.
1. Gabriel Turns Villain To Hero
The Arsenal defender made a horrible mistake to allow Mitrovic in for the Fulham opener after dwelling in defence. Gabriel Magalhaes said the team helped him get his head up after his mistake against the Cottagers, allowing him to score the winning goal. Speaking after the game, the defender admitted his teammates helped to lift him up:
“After I lose the ball, my head is down,”
“But I look [at] my brothers, they say ‘Gabby, let’s go, let’s go!’, and I put my head up.”
The Brazilian kept his composure and was in the right place at the right time later on to score the precious winner for the North London side.
Most goals scored by centre-backs in the Premier League since the start of last season:
◉ 6 – Gabriel Magalhães
◎ 4 – Virgil van Dijk
◎ 4 – Aymeric Laporte
◎ 4 – Ben Mee
◎ 4 – Conor Coady
◎ 4 – Jan Bednarek
The Brazilian leads the way. 🇧🇷
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 27, 2022
2. Arteta Has Improved His Backup Plans
Mikel Arteta was often criticised last season for his in-game flexibility and late use of substitutions. However, he put that accusation to rest by bringing Nketiah on for Tierney shortly after conceding, the shape shifted to 4-4-2, with Martinelli and Saka both having stints at full-back.
The Gunners boss has spoken of the need to control games, so the changes were tactical decisions. It is the players who need to take responsibility, who need to learn to slow the game down and draw the life out of the opposition. Xhaka’s adaptability helps maintain both defensive and offensive solidity.
3. Arsenal Need A Backup For The Injury-prone Thomas Partey
The Gunners crumbled at the end of last season when Thomas Partey missed the remaining nine league games through injury and Arteta hasn’t brought in a midfield signing other than Fabio Vieira. The 22-year-old is yet to start for the North London side with Mohamed Elneny trusted once again to play Partey’s role alongside Granit Xhaka.
The Egyptian midfielder had the difficult task of trying to prevent the visitors from getting the ball into Aleksandar Mitrovic’s path and he largely succeeded throughout the match. Elneny was given a one-year deal in the summer and if he’s needed to step in for Partey more often, then Arteta will need him to put in similar displays when called upon.
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The Arsenal manager was the first to admit his side were not at their best against Fulham, but they found a way to win which was lacking last season. Captain Martin Odegaard gave a talismanic performance to claim the Man of the Match award.
Gabriel will be breathing a huge sigh of relief, while Kieran Tierney’s display was something of a worry. Arteta played down his team’s position at the top of the Premier League table but admitted he was proud after his side produced another impressive display at Fulham.
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