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Fulham 2-1 Arsenal


A fantastic team display saw Fulham end 2023 in style with a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Cottage.

The victory was all the more impressive considering the visitors took an early lead through Bukayo Saka’s tap-in.

The response was superb, with Raúl Jiménez marking his return in style when he turned in an excellent Tom Cairney delivery.

And when Bobby De Cordova-Reid converted at a corner in the second half, it was the absolute least the Whites deserved, as we claimed a first win over Arsenal in 12 years.

Marco Silva made three changes to the XI that lined up on Boxing Day. Raúl and Willian returned from suspension and injury, respectively, while Timothy Castagne came in at right-back in place of Kenny Tete, who dropped to the bench alongside Rodrigo Muniz and Andreas Pereira.

A lung-busting run from Castagne saw him do brilliantly to get on the end of Willian’s pick-out, but he was then out of position after David Raya claimed his cross. That allowed Gabriel Martinelli to gallop forward down Arsenal’s left before cutting in and forcing a good stop from Bernd Leno. Unfortunately, the rebound dropped straight to Saka who couldn’t miss after just about remaining onside.

Fulham put a lovely move together 10 minutes later, with the effective link-up between Willian and Antonee Robinson down the left creating a chance for Raúl, who saw his well-struck first time effort saved by Raya.

It was then Raúl’s turn to start a move as he held the ball up strongly before handing over to two former Arsenal players, with Willian curling just wide after being picked out by Alex Iwobi.

The Gunners had been under the cosh since scoring, and will have been relieved to see Raúl’s volley fly over as he met Willian’s corner midway through the half.

The pressure did eventually tell, though, with Raúl announcing his return to the team in style, arriving at the back post to slide in Cairney’s wicked first time cross.

Credit must also go to Calvin Bassey, who won a crunching tackle in the middle of the pitch to start the move.

Arsenal had a few half chances towards the end of the opening 45, with Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah and Declan Rice all firing off target, while Tosin sent an ambitious effort wide from 35 yards at the other end.

With Fulham starting the second half with the same intensity we’d showed during the first, the Cottage was rocking, and the roof nearly came off just before the hour mark when De Cordova-Reid lashed us in front. There was a bit of a scramble after João Palhinha headed Willian’s corner goalwards, and the Jamaica international was the most alert to stab in.

Arsenal were presented with an immediate opportunity to restore parity when Bassey and Robinson both went for the same ball, which allowed it to drop kindly for the unmarked Saka, who volleyed wildly over.

Cairney drew a fantastic save from Raya when he took aim from long range, though it would not have counted anyway as Raúl was offside in the build-up.

A long ball from Robinson caught the away defence napping as we entered the final 10 minutes, but Raúl’s shot from an acute angle was deflected behind, with Harry Wilson – who had come off the bench to make his 100th Fulham appearance – dragging an effort wide from the subsequent corner.

Fellow substitute Andreas Pereira almost made the points safe with two minutes to play, with the midfielder desperately unlucky to see his free-kick come back off the crossbar.

Thankfully it mattered not, as stoppage time saw Fulham maintain the performance levels they’d shown all day to lock in a huge three points.


Fulham FC: Leno, Castagne, Tosin, Bassey, Robinson, João Palhinha, Cairney (Reed 93’), De Cordova-Reid (Wilson 80’), Iwobi (Andreas Pereira 72’), Willian (Diop 80’), Jiménez

Subs: Rodák, Tete, Reed, Wilson, Ballo-Touré, Andreas Pereira, Rodrigo Muniz, Lukić, Diop

Arsenal: Raya, White (Gabriel Jesus 67’), Saliba, Gabriel Magalhães, Kiwior (Tomiyasu 45’), Ødegaard, Rice, Havertz (Nelson 77’), Saka, Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli (Trossard 67’)

Subs: Ramsdale, Gabriel Jesus, Smith Rowe, Cédric Soares, Tomiyasu, Trossard, Jorginho, Nelson, Mohamed Elneny.


By Geoff Pruce

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