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Fulham claim inspired win as Arsenal suffer big blow in title race

Fulham claim inspired win as Arsenal suffer big blow in title race

Arsenal blew the chance to end 2023 at the Premier League summit as Bobby De Cordova-Reid struck to secure a 2-1 comeback victory for Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Mikel Arteta’s side did get off to a flyer on five minutes when Bukayo Saka stabbed in the rebound after Bernd Leno had parried Gabriel Martinelli’s sharp effort.

However, the hosts responded and were the better side for the remainder of the half, deservedly levelling when Raul Jimenez steered in Tom Cairney’s cross for his fourth goal in four matches.

Arsenal continued to labour following the interval and Fulham snatched the lead just shy of the hour when De Cordova-Reid crashed in from close range after the visitors failed to deal with a right-wing corner.

The Cottagers looked the more likely in the dying embers of the game and hit the crossbar through substitute Andreas Pereira as a toothless Arsenal slumped to a fourth league loss of the campaign.

The result sees The Gunners stay fourth, two points adrift of leaders Liverpool who could extend their advantage at the summit at home to Newcastle United on New Year’s Day. Fulham rise to 13th place after ending a run of three straight league defeats.

Both sides will now switch focus to the FA Cup third round with Fulham at home to Rotherham on Friday night and Arsenal hosting Liverpool in arguably the tie of the round next Sunday.

Talking Point – A mini crisis is sheer hyperbole but Arsenal will want to come out of this sticky moment asap

This was another flat performance from The Gunners as their winless run extended to three league matches.

The lack of goal threat in back-to-back defeats is all the more puzzling following a 1-1 draw at title rivals Liverpool that had many observers suggesting why it demonstrated they are strong candidates to wrestle the Premier League trophy away from Manchester City this season.

Calls for the signing of a new striker in the January window will intensify after this result and it would no doubt bolster their push, although Arteta will continue to back the players that have put them in a strong position at the turn of the year, despite ending it on a low note.

Player of the match – Tom Cairney (Fulham)

There were countless contenders in the Fulham side as they out-battled and outplayed Arsenal for long spells. Cairney backed up dogged defensive work with quality on the ball, buttressing his performance with an exquisite cross for Jimenez’s equaliser.

Player Ratings

FULHAM: Leno 7, Castagne 8, Tosin 8, Bassey 9, Robinson 8, Palhinha 8, Cairney 9, Decordova-Reid 8, Willian 8, Iwobi 8, Jimenez 8. Subs: Andreas 7, Wilson 7, Diop 7, Reed n/a.

ARSENAL: Raya 7, White 6, Saliba 6, Gabriel 7, Kiwior 6, Odegaard 6, Rice 6, Havertz 6, Saka 6, Nketiah 5, Martinelli 6. Subs: Tomiyasu 6, Jesus 5, Trossard 5, Nelson 5.

Match Highlights

05’ – GOAL! – Fulham 0-1 Arsenal: (Saka). The away side survive a scare down their right and break at speed. Martinelli cuts in and forces a smart save from Leno, but Saka is there to gobble up a close-range rebound.

29’ – GOAL! – Fulham 1-1 Arsenal: (Jimenez). The hosts break down the left through Willian. He feeds the overlapping Cairney who fires in a delicious low cross that Jimenez steers home at the far post.

59’ – GOAL! – Fulham 2-1 Arsenal: (De Cordova-Reid). The ball ricochets a couple of times after Palhinha nods down a right-wing corner and De Cordova-Reid pounces to lash home from close range.

88’ – FULHAM CHANCE! Andreas steps up and curls a superb 25-yard free kick against the bar with Raya well beaten.

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