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Fulham comeback to upset Arsenal at the Craven Cottage

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Bobby De Cordova Reid celebrates after scoring the winner Photo The Independent
Bobby De Cordova-Reid celebrates after scoring the winner. Photo/ The Independent
  • Fulham came back from a goal behind to win 2-1 on Sunday, denying Arsenal the chance to finish the year on top of the Premier League.
  • Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s goal in the second half broke the hosts’ three-match losing streak after Raul Jimenez had canceled out Bukayo Saka’s first goal.
  • Fulham moved up to 13th place in the standings as Arsenal, who led the standings on Christmas Day, finished fourth at the end of the year.

Fulham came back from a goal behind to win 2-1 on Sunday, denying Arsenal the chance to finish the year atop the Premier League.

Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s goal in the second half broke the hosts’ three-match losing streak after Raul Jimenez had canceled out Bukayo Saka’s first goal.

With 24 points from 20 games, Fulham moved up to 13th place in the standings. Arsenal, who led the standings on Christmas Day, finished fourth at the end of the year after losing their last three games.

Much had been said recently about Arsenal’s wastefulness in the last third of games, but it only took Arteta’s team five minutes to break the deadlock in the derby when Saka, who had little knowledge of the situation, poked the ball into the open goal after Bernd Leno palmed a Gabriel Martinelli shot.

Bukayo Saka openend the scoring for the visitors Photo

Bukayo Saka opened the scoring for the visitors Photo/ Yahoo Sports

The England international did not celebrate much because he could have been worried that a VAR review might find a reason to deny the strike, but the goal remained since Tosin Adarabioyo had played him onside.

Though down, Fulham responded positively, with Jimenez forcing David Raya into a comfortable diving save five minutes before Willian’s curler went just wide of the top corner.

The 29th minute saw the Cottagers get the goal their efforts deserved thanks to a fantastic pass flashed across the box by Tom Cairney. Jimenez left Kiwior in his wake and scored first time under a diving Raya. The Cottagers were looking especially dangerous down Arsenal’s right.

Arsenal’s offensive phases were once again beset by missed passes or subpar deliveries into the box. However, in the 42nd minute, Martinelli had a good opportunity inside the D, but he blasted his first-time attempt centimeters wide of the far post.

A high-pressing Fulham should have been happy with their first-half efforts. Nketiah also had an injury-time chance, missing the goal as he went for the near post. Nevertheless, the offside flag would have spared his blushes.

Takehiro Tomiyasu, who replaced Kiwior at left-back after recovering from a calf injury, was a sight to behold for the visiting supporters at the beginning of the second half, and the Gunners’ first opportunity of the second half came about unusually.

Raul Jimenez celebrates after scoring the leveller against Arsenal Photo Sky Sports

Raul Jimenez celebrates after scoring the leveler against Arsenal. Photo/ Sky Sports

Josh Smith, the referee, unintentionally stopped Alex Iwobi as he attempted to confront Declan Rice, giving the latter enough opportunity to pick out Martinelli. However, Martinelli’s curler flew harmlessly wide, causing Smith to exhale with relief.

However, after their shortcomings from set pieces were highlighted against West Ham, Arsenal gave up another corner in the 59th minute when Decordova-Reid thundered the ball into the net from close range after Gabriel Magalhaes’s sliced clearance rebounded off of Tomiyasu.

Saka had plenty of room when a Martinelli cross diverted to him in the 63rd minute, but the winger’s first-time shot was high, wide, and not at all accurate for Arsenal, despite their lackluster attacking performance.

As Arsenal attempted to turn the tide, Arteta switched to a 3-5-2 formation. In the 81st minute, Saka found some space, but Joao Palhinha made a lung-busting run to prevent the Englishman’s shot.

As the second half wore on, Arsenal managed to muster not a single attempt on goal, while in the 88th minute, an Andreas Pereira free kick skittered against the crossbar and landed safely, putting Fulham within a whisker of victory.

Arsenal’s appalling performance was not enough to turn things around in five minutes of extra time. The Gunners stay fourth in the standings ahead of their FA Cup third-round match against Liverpool next weekend, while Fulham, who host Rotherham United on Friday, moves up one spot to 13th.

I am an ardent sports enthusiast interested in writing about football, motorsport and athletics.

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