Fulham hurts Arsenal’s title chances; De Cordova-Reid wins

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By Creative Media News

  • Arsenal trails Liverpool by 2 points
  • Fulham defeats Arsenal
  • Jiménez scores, Fulham victorious

The positive news is that Arsenal will begin 2024 trailing league leaders Liverpool by only two points. The negative news consists of virtually everything else.

In these crucial weeks, Mikel Arteta’s team scored enough points to keep their title aspirations alive. As winter ends and spring arrives, their opponents’ squads will likely have a greater impact on the Premier League trophy. Instead, it has brought to light their most vulnerable aspects and sparked substantial doubts regarding the veracity of their credentials.

In December, Luton lost at home to Fulham, who had lost their previous three league games 8-0. The month commenced with narrow victories over Wolves, and has since culminated in a solitary triumph in their final six matches across all competitions. One potential resolution for the new year is to completely ignore the events of the previous few weeks.

As the season progressed, Arteta chose to recall Eddie Nketiah in lieu of Gabriel Jesus for only his second league start since a magnificent hat-trick against Sheffield United, as his squad appeared increasingly toothless in attack. The alteration had absolutely no effect.

Nketiah remained anonymous as the visitors managed only three efforts on goal and asked Bernd Leno few questions. The demands to acquire an additional forward in January grow stronger with each passing game.

Jiménez’s Impact: Fulham’s Resurgence and Goal-Scoring Triumph

An peculiar rollercoaster journey continues for Fulham. Marco Silva’s team scored 16 goals in four games after scoring 10 in their previous 12 league outings. Including the recent dry spell that coincided with Raúl Jiménez’s absence. The return of the Mexico forward resulted in an additional goal for him, which, in conjunction with Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s hurried finish, contributed to a comeback triumph following an early opener by Bukayo Saka.

It was beyond dispute that they had earned it. On his 24th birthday, Calvin Bassey was outstanding at the heart of a Fulham defence that blocked nearly every shot launched at it. Based on the available evidence, they are not a team that ought to be remotely concerned about the developments at clubs below them that are threatened with relegation.

Six weeks ago, it was absurd to think Jiménez could become west London’s most unlikely goalscorer. However, he has unexpectedly scored five in his last seven Premier League appearances following a dismal stretch of 33 goalless games.

Jiménez was suspended and missed all but 22 minutes of Fulham’s three-game league unbeaten streak.

It was also one of his easier assignments, thanks to a magnificent delivery from Tom Cairney, whose perilous low ball traversed the entire six-yard box and enabled the forward to tap in at the far post.

That strike ensured a stalemate at halftime, following Arsenal’s five-minute lead that was established with the type of swift break that begs the question of how the opposing team gained the advantage.

The ball was swiftly disseminated wide to Gabriel Martinelli from Kai Havertz following a roll-out by David Raya. Martinelli was given the freedom of Craven Cottage to run unimpeded down the left flank. He reached the Fulham penalty area, where he cut inside and aimed a shot towards the far post.

Defensive Errors and Missed Opportunities

The fact that Leno successfully blocked the rebound was inconsequential for a fraction of a second, as it subsequently collided with Saka’s right foot, and the Arsenal winger propelled his leg forward, merely prodding in the right direction and hoping for a favourable outcome with the ricochet. While it did occur, the visitors’ elation during a miserable afternoon was momentary.

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Oleksandr Zinchenko’s calf injury kept him out of the matchday roster, and Jakub Kiwior performed poorly. Having been prominently targeted in Fulham’s first-half attacks, Kiwior was substituted at halftime in favour of Takehiro Tomiyasu.

The Japan defender was oblivious to his contribution as the provider of the assist for Fulham’s second goal. From a Fulham corner, João Palhinha’s cross-goal header deflected off an Arsenal player’s leg, head, and ultimately Tomiyasu’s shoulder before landing precisely for De Cordova-Reid to stab home from close range.

During the intense and sudden downpour, which compelled any unprotected spectators to seek sanctuary, Arteta made every effort to change a situation that appeared ominously certain. A 3-5-2 formation was altered in response to the introduction of Jesus and Leandro Trossard, which coincided with the visitors inevitably spending more time in advanced positions against a steadily deepening Fulham.

However, an equaliser never seemed probable, and the travelling supporters’ gloomy disposition could have so easily gotten worse.

Raya had to make an incredible jumping save to stop Cairney’s curling long-range shot from the start. Then, in the final minutes, Andreas Pereira, a substitute for Fulham, missed the crossbar with a free-kick.

Dropped points have been explicable or the result of mitigating circumstances in the majority of Arsenal’s recent matches. This time, no. That they were completely outplayed by Fulham is cause for grave concern.

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