Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Player ratings as Gunners come from behind to extend winning start

Grey Whitebloom
Arsenal are the only team with a 100% record to start the season
Arsenal are the only team with a 100% record to start the season / Paul Harding/GettyImages
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Arsenal maintained their winning start to the Premier League season with a 2-1 victory from behind at home to Fulham on Saturday afternoon - the Gunners have now won four consecutive games at the start of a league campaign for the first time since 2004/05.

As Martin Odegaard hovered with menace, Arsenal's fleet-footed frontline penetrated Fulham's box, forcing the visitors into a glut of last-ditch interventions as they managed to keep the first half goalless.

Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka were both rebuffed by an outstretched boot from Fulham's resilient rearguard in the opening quarter of the contest. After half an hour, Saka managed to scamper behind Antonee Robinson, twisting past Tosin Adarabioyo only to have his shot smothered by Bernd Leno, his teammate just 25 days ago.

Fulham saw precious little of the ball in the first half, recording less than 20% possession, but reminded Arsenal of their threat in transition on the sporadic occasions they squeezed past the hosts' counter-press.

Leno beat away Odegaard's long range effort after the interval but should never have been afforded the opportunity to fall upon Gabriel Jesus' desperately weak effort from the top of the box.

Aleksandr Mitrovic had been limited to scraps and scuffles on the halfway line but pounced upon Gabriel's dawdling in defence. Wrestling the Brazilian off the ball, Mitrovic rolled his 100th goal for Fulham into the bottom corner, giving the west Londoners a 56th-minute lead with their first shot on target.

Mikel Arteta threw caution to the wind with the introduction of a second centre-forward, Eddie Nketiah in place of his left-back Kieran Tierney for the final half-hour. However, it was Odegaard - Arsenal's chief threat throughout the match - that hauled the hosts level within ten minutes.

Collecting Saka's pass in his stride, Arsenal's skipper deceived Leno with the help of a significant deflection off Adarabioyo.

Mitrovic almost made an inroad into his second century of goals with a thumping header, forcing Aaron Ramsdale into a sharp stop from a corner.

As Marco Silva ceded the initiative to Arsenal by shuffling Fulham into a back-five for the final ten minutes, Arsenal cranked up the pressure. Nketiah squandered two chances inside the box as the visitors sank deeper and deeper.

Gabriel, the villain of the piece half an hour before, scrambled an 86th-minute winner over the line as the centre-back reacted fastest as Fulham chaotically failed to defend a corner.

Ramsdale was forced into another save as Fulham continued to threaten exclusively from set pieces. However, the hosts hung on to win the first four matches of a season for just the fifth time in their history.


Arsenal vs Fulham player ratings

1. Arsenal (4-3-3)

Gabriel Jesus, Kenny Tete
Gabriel Jesus had twice as many touches in the penalty box (eight) as Fulham's entire team (four) in the first half / Paul Harding/GettyImages

GK: Aaron Ramsdale - 5/10 - Unable to atone for his teammate's error but rebuffed Mitrovic from a set piece not long after.

RB: Ben White - 5/10 - Skittish when rushed but more convincing off the ball.

CB: William Saliba - 7/10 - Treated to his own chant within ten seconds of kick-off, Saliba carried out his tasks without a fuss.

CB: Gabriel - 5/10 - From decent to dawdling and finally decisive.

LB: Kieran Tierney - 5/10 - Willing to drift infield as well as pulling high and wide.

CM: Martin Odegaard - 7/10 - Floating between the lines, Odegaard peppered his performance with devilishly deft flicks of his left boot.

CM: Mohamed Elneny - 7/10 - Coming in for Thomas Partey, Elneny anchored the midfield with the same authority as his Ghanaian teammate.

CM: Granit Xhaka - 5/10 - Pushing forward with the insurance policy of Tierney behind him, Xhaka shanked a clear chance wide with his weaker side in the first half.

RW: Bukayo Saka - 6/10 - Much more involved compared to weeks gone by, Saka linked up with Odegaard brilliantly.

ST: Gabriel Jesus - 7/10 - Roving around the attacking third, the bubbling Brazilian was a nagging thorn in the side of his west London opponents.

LW: Gabriel Martinelli - 5/10 - Repeatedly disappointed with uncharacteristically poor deliveries before tossing in the corner that led to Gabriel's goal.

SUB: Eddie Nketiah (61' for Tierney) - 6/10 - Bright upon his arrival but seemed to dim the threat of Jesus.

SUB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (89' for Jesus) - N/A

SUB: Rob Holding (90+5' for Odegaard) - N/A

Manager: Mikel Arteta - 7/10 - Acted swiftly after his initial game plan didn't quite bear fruit.

2. Fulham (4-2-3-1)

Kenny Tete, Kieran Tierney
Kenny Tete (left) blocking Arsenal's Kieran Tierney / Paul Harding/GettyImages

GK: Bernd Leno - 6/10 - On his return to the Emirates, Leno denied his former teammates with a squall of good saves. Beaten by a deflection, the German wasn't entirely commanding at the decisive corner.

RB: Kenny Tete - 6/10 - Managed to cope with the speed and strength of Martinelli for much of the game.

CB: Tosin Adarabioyo - 7/10 - Began the game in a foggy daze but recovered to make some crucial interventions.

CB: Tim Ream - 6/10 - In the right place at the right time more often than not.

LB: Antonee Robinson - 5/10 - Keen to quickly engage Saka but confronted the winger with mixed success.

CM: Harrison Reed - 5/10 - Struggled to exert his influence on proceedings with so little of the ball.

CM: Joao Palhinha - 7/10 - Trying to shadow Jesus and Odegaard, Palhinha repeatedly positioned his angular frame between a red shirt and the ball.

AM: Andreas Pereira - 5/10 - Flitted in but mostly out of the match.

RW: Bobby Decordova-Reid - 5/10 - Skirted around the fringes of the contest.

ST: Aleksandr Mitrovic - 7/10 - Held the ball up masterfully, proving a nuisance in the air and on the deck - just ask Gabriel.

LW: Neeskens Kebano - 6/10 - Tracked back diligently but had his threat going forward limited.

SUB: Tom Cairney (69' for Kebano) - 5/10

SUB: Issa Diop (79' for Pereira) - N/A

SUB: Kevin Mbabu (79' for Tete) - N/A

SUB: Nathaniel Chalobah (90' for Palhinha) - N/A

Manager: Marco Silva - 5/10 - Unashamedly reliant upon Mitrovic, Silva's passive attempt to settle for a point forced Arsenal onto them.

Player of the Match - Martin Odegaard

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