Saturday saw us win our fourth league match in a row, the only Premier League club to do so this season, with an amazing attitude from the players on display for Mikel Arteta’s 100th match in charge and 53rd managerial career win. Only Arsène Wenger had a higher success rate in his first 100 matches (winning 54). But unlike the old Arsenal, we kept fighting until the very end and was eventually rewarded for those efforts after a 85th minute winner from Gabriel, who went from zero to hero, as we came from behind to take all three points. Mikel Arteta was forced to make two changes from the squad that played Bournemouth, with Zinchenko out as a precaution due to a knee injury picked up in training on Friday, and Partey out due to a thigh injury. They were replaced by Tierney and Elneny, who both got their first starts of the 22/23 campaign, respectively.
The first half was incredibly frustrating; there were several missed chances which I think we all felt should have resulted in at least a goal. Arsenal dominated possession but just couldn’t seem to break the deadlock. At the 15 minute mark, Xhaka shot just wide after an amazing build up from Martin Ødegaard and Gabriel Jesus. Bernd Leno had a fairly active first half with shots from Martinelli and Saka keeping him busy, whilst Aaron Ramsdale was relatively underworked.
Fulham returned after the break in a much more attacking force. Attempts from Cordoba-Reid and Mitrovič seemed threatening but Arsenal soon retaliated with good attempts from Ødegaard and Jesus. At 55 minutes Mitrovič broke the deadlock and gave Fulham the lead due to hesitation from Gabriel. In previous seasons, this would have been game over for the Gunners and we would have sat back, ultimately opening ourselves up to concede further goals. However, this season has shown a new and improved attitude from Arteta’s team as he brought on Eddie Nketiah to help keep the ball rolling.
This decision paid off, as only 8 minutes later, Saka fed a neat ball through to Ødegaard who saw his shot deflect off of Tosin Adarabiyo and find itself in the back of Leno’s goal. Gabriel also went on to make up for his previous error and score the winner in a chaotic scramble for the ball following an outstanding Martinelli corner. After a VAR check for a possible handball and possible offside, the goal was given. But the action didn’t end there, as Ramsdale denied Chalobah’s efforts for a late equaliser with an incredible save.
I think both Martin Ødegaard and Granit Xhaka were instrumental in this fixture, both clear captains with Ødegaard scoring an equaliser and both helping to create opportunities by moving the ball forward. Ødegaard has definitely proven himself as a worthy captain after a shaky start to the first game of the season, and Xhaka has shown time and time again with his feedback to players and words of encouragement that he too would be worthy of wearing the captain’s armband once more. It is definitely safe to say that Arsenal are not short of leadership qualities within their players, and the added squad depth from this window has definitely improved our team and our fighting attitude.
This is the first time since the 04/05 season where we have won our opening four matches, which bodes well for Villa on Wednesday where we can hope to pick up another three points and make it five wins from five against the team who have won just one match all season, losing the other three. It will be interesting to see what changes Arteta makes as we have played a largely unchanged squad, with Arteta seemingly hitting perfection from the first game of the season. But, as we have an intense run of matches now, surely we will see some other players get their turn as we rest our key players for bigger games ahead.
Written by: Abby Goodson @_abbygoodson