Arteta happy with ‘nice’ win over Fulham
"Big boost, winning like this is really nice," Arteta said.
Mikel Arteta (centre) celebrates after the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on Saturday. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
Gabriel made amends for a dreadful error by scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory at home to Fulham on Saturday as Arsenal won their fourth straight game to start the Premier League season.
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Aleksandar Mitrovic punished a mistake by Gabriel to give Fulham a surprise lead on 56 minutes, but Martin Odegaard equalised with a deflected effort just past the hour.
Gabriel bundled in after a scramble at a corner with five minutes to play to keep Mikel Arteta’s side two points clear of reigning champions Manchester City at the top.
“Big boost, winning like this is really nice,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“We made a mistake and they punished us but then how we reacted against adversity… the way we went about it, the team believed. They wanted to win the match, they went for it and we managed to do it.”
Asked if Arsenal were primed to make a title challenge, Arteta downplayed expectations.
“No, this is just the start of the season. We are in a long, long marathon,” he said.
Fulham suffered their first defeat in four outings on their top-flight return.
Having won their opening three games for the first time in 18 years, Arsenal made two changes to the team that beat Bournemouth with Thomas Partey and Oleksandr Zinchenko out injured.
Kieran Tierney came in at left-back and Mohamed Elneny lined up alongside Granit Xhaka in central midfield.
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno faced his old club on just his second start for Fulham, and the Germany international spread himself well to deny Bukayo Saka in the first half.
Gabriel Martinelli clipped the crossbar direct from a corner as Fulham continued to defend well, Leno pushing away Odegaard’s curling attempt early in the second half.
Fulham struck first though as Mitrovic robbed Gabriel inside the Arsenal box and rolled expertly beyond Aaron Ramsdale for his fourth goal of the campaign.
Arsenal’s response was timely. Saka burst towards goal before nudging the ball to Odegaard, with the Norwegian’s shot striking Tosin Adarabioyo and wrong-footing Leno.
The visitors didn’t back down and Ramsdale reacted sharply to turn away a Mitrovic header before William Saliba bravely blocked the follow-up from Bobby Reid.
Leno, who signed a three-year deal with Fulham earlier this month after losing his Arsenal place to Ramsdale, looked set to frustrate the Gunners as he saved well from Eddie Nketiah and Martinelli.
But Gabriel redeemed himself as Leno failed to deal with a corner under pressure from both Arsenal centre-backs, allowing the Brazilian to snatch a late winner.
Fulham nearly stole a point in the closing moments but Ramsdale kept out substitute Nathaniel Chalobah to preserve Arsenal’s perfect record.