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Match Report: ~ Fulham draw at Arsenal ~ Prem MD 03 ~ 23/24

last updated Saturday 26th August 2023, 9:07 PM

Match Report

Arsenal (0) 2-2 (1) Fulham

Premier League Match Day 03 23/24 at Emirates Stadium

Saturday 26th August 2023    KO: 15:00

Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

Fulham Midfielder Andreas Pereira
Fulham Midfielder
Andreas Pereira
Andreas Pereira
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Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha stunned Arsenal with a late equaliser as 10-player Fulham came back to claim a dramatic draw at the Emirates and end their hosts' perfect start to the Premier League season.

Fulham may have failed to record their first league win at Arsenal but they will surely take heart from the hard-earned point they take back to west London, particularly after being humbled by rivals Brentford last time out.

The Gunners' overriding feeling will be one of frustration after failing to move above Tottenham and into top spot in the Premier League, with sloppy errors undermining Mikel Arteta's side.

Bukayo Saka inadvertently set up Andreas Pereira for Fulham's opener within the first minute and Palhinha was handed the freedom of the penalty area to score the visitors' equaliser.

Saka made amends for his error by scoring a second-half penalty and Eddie Nketiah put the hosts ahead in controversial fashion - with Arsenal not putting the ball out despite an injury to Calvin Bassey, who was later sent off - but the Gunners could not see out the win.

If Arsenal had needed any further motivation ahead of taking on Fulham, it was provided when rivals Spurs went top of the league thanks to their win at Bournemouth in the lunchtime kick-off.

Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha
Fulham midfielder
Joao Palhinha
Joao Palhinha
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The visit of Fulham - who had never won at Arsenal in the league in 30 attempts - appeared the perfect opportunity to go back above their north London neighbours.

However, Marco Silva's side had other ideas and were ahead inside the first minute when Pereira raced onto Saka's loose pass and bent the ball past the back-peddling Aaron Ramsdale.

Arsenal quickly regained their composure in possession and went close through Kai Havertz - who endured another quiet afternoon - while Gabriel Martinelli was bravely denied by a Raul Jimenez tackle and Martin Odegaard saw a goal ruled out for offside shortly before half-time.

But the hosts looked worrying vulnerable defensively and Jimenez almost punished some slack work from Ben White with a stunning overhead kick, while Harry Wilson powered an effort just wide under little pressure from range.

Fulham continued to frustrate Arsenal throughout the second half - until Kenny Tete undid all their hard work with a rash challenge on Fabio Vieira, allowing Saka to draw his side level from the penalty spot.

The home fans had barely retaken their seats when Nketiah turned in the impressive Vieira's cross to complete the turnaround, although Arsenal could count themselves lucky given Bassey had been left sprawled in the Fulham area in the build-up.

The defender was pulled down by Saka - although VAR did not deem it worthy of ruling out the goal - with the hosts refusing to put the ball out and then taking advantage of the stricken defender to score.

Silva was booked in the aftermath and his mood darkened further when Bassey received a second yellow card for bringing down Nketiah.

But, with Arsenal supporters already beginning to celebrate their ascent to the top of the table, Palhinha took advantage of some non-existent marking to turn in a corner and spark a wild end to the game as both sides had chances to score a third.

Vieira almost won it with a spectacular bicycle kick and Issa Diop had to clear from under his own crossbar when Arsenal looked certain to score, while Fulham could have claimed all three points when Adama Traore stormed past William Saliba on the counter-attack - only for Ramsdale to make a vital stop at the end of a breathless encounter.

Fulham boss Marco Silva was furious with referee Paul Tierney for his decision to send off Bassey, as well as the call not to punish Saka for his clash with the defender in the build-up to Nketiah's goal.

Bassey's first yellow card came after Tierney adjudged him to be wasting time as he prepared to take a goal-kick, and Silva told Sky Sports: "The first yellow card for Calvin is a joke.

"For the second goal of Arsenal, for me it's a clear foul on Calvin. [Saka] pulls his arm, a clear foul. I spoke with the fourth official and he said: 'I'll call the referee to give you a yellow card.'"

The Fulham boss went on to criticise the new directives for officials to crack down on time wasting, adding he believes it hands an advantage to bigger clubs.

"Of course we understand the new circumstances we are playing," he said. "They are taking all the emotion from the game.

"It is going to protect the big clubs because you have to see consistency in the decisions. If a player from Fulham takes 15 seconds to throw the ball or [take] a goal-kick, it will be a yellow card.

"This player will be always under pressure because if he makes a foul it will be a second yellow card, for example this afternoon with Calvin.

"But for the other clubs it's not the same. If you see one of the first throw-ins for (Thomas) Partey on my side on the touchline, he took much more time than Calvin on the goal-kick.

"It was not a yellow card. Why? Because they were losing the game? That's why I say you're not going to see consistency."

Arsenal manager Arteta backed Havertz to earn the affection of Arsenal supporters after some in the stadium criticised him during a low-key performance.

"Yes, I think so," said the manager when asked whether the £65m signing would win over his new fans. "I think he's done already really good things.

"Today it was tough in certain moments. He got in great areas and the ball didn't arrive.

"In a lot of situations he should have scored a lot of goals already this season. That's the thing that is missing."

Havertz was replaced early in the second half and Arteta praised the impact of his substitutes - including Vieira and Nketiah - as they helped his side turn the game around.

"In the second half we made some changes," Arteta said. "The dynamic changed, we had better relationships.

"The subs made a huge difference, great impact. I loved the determination and the confidence they brought to the team.

"We made the most difficult thing, go 2-1 up. Then you have to defend the box with your life. You cannot concede a goal after everything we did. We should have scored five, six, seven."

Fulham's next game is at home to Tottenham in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday - kick-off 7.45pm - before visiting champions Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday - kick-off 3pm.

Arsenal : Ramsdale, Partey (Zinchenko 56), White, Saliba, Kiwior, Odegaard (Jorginho 84), Rice (Gabriel 91), Havertz (Vieira 56), Saka, Trossard (Nketiah 45), Martinelli

Unused substitutes: Magalhaes, Smith Rowe, Raya, Nelson

Saka pen 70 (Tete, what are you doing! Fulham have defended so well but the right-back lets his team down, losing Vieira and then diving in to bring the midfielder down. The ball was never there to be won and the spot kick is nailed on. Saka has the ball in hand... and VAR confirms there was no offside.)
Nketiah 74 (This will be controversial! Bassey is down and in real pain in the Fulham area after a coming together with Saka but Arsenal refuse to put the ball out. The Fulham defender is playing everyone onside and the Gunners take advantage, with Vieira crossing for Nketiah to turn the ball home. Marco Silva is absolutely livid and now gets booked by referee Tierney.) Fulham : Leno, Tete, Diop, Bassey, Robinson, Lukic (Reed 70), Palhinha, Pereira (Cairney 63), Wilson (Traore 71), Jimenez, De Cordova-Reid (Adarabioyo 89)

Unused substitutes: Rodak, Muniz, Mbabu, Vinicius, Harris

Pereira 1 (What a start! It's a shocker from Saka, who misplaces a pass straight to Pereira, allowing the Fulham midfielder to run in on the Arsenal goal. Ramsdale is back-peddling and out of position, allowing Pereira to place the ball past him and into the bottom corner. The Gunners' habit of giving away soft early goals at home rears its head again!)
Palhinha 89 (The ball comes into the box and it is a brilliantly executed half-volley from the Fulham midfielder who turns the ball past Ramsdale to equalise for Fulham!)

Booked: Jimenez (19,f), Bassey (51,f), Lukic (66,f), Rodak (74,tw)

Sent Off: Bassey (85,f(2nd yel))

Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

Attendance: 59,961

Source Joe Shread at Sky Sports
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