Arsenal needed an injury time equaliser to salvage a point against Fulham on a dramatic Premier League afternoon at the Emirates.
It was a tense clash that only really came to life when Dani Ceballos’ smooth header was ruled out by VAR for Bukayo Saka’s foot being offside. Then, in the 59th minute, Josh Maja smashed home the first goal of the day from the penalty spot after Gabriel had tripped Mario Lemina inside the box.
It all seemed to be going well for Scott Parker’s side, who need every point they can get in their battle against relegation, but it came crashing down when Eddie Nketiah knocked in a deserved equaliser for the hosts with six minutes of stoppage time on the clock.
In the first half there was a distinct high line and impressive tempo to Arsenal’s play that caused Fulham all sorts of problems. Whenever they chose to keep the ball on the deck they were the ones in control and if they’d just been a bit quicker right up until the full time whistle, they may have won the whole thing.
The longer the game went on, the more respect Arsenal showed Fulham — and that’s been a long-running problem within the core of this squad. They were vulnerable to any sort of counter attack and that shouldn’t happen against a side battling relegation, with the drop off in momentum being painfully obvious as the game entered the final half hour.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — There’s so often a reserved feeling to Mikel Arteta’s management on the touchline and that seemed to shine through with the players on the pitch. He took a few risks with the line-up and there was a really strong attacking intent within the first 10-15 minutes but once that fizzled out, so did Arteta’s ability to spark any kind of resurgence.
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Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Mathew Ryan, 6 — Controlled his box well and wasn’t really tested until the penalty, which he never really came close to saving. His flick on as he went up for a corner at the end helped towards the equalising goal.
DF Hector Bellerin, 4 — Outside of his cross for the disallowed goal, it was another poor afternoon for Bellerin with the majority of Arsenal’s attacks dying off whenever he got into the final third.
DF Rob Holding, 6 — Shouldn’t drift forward as much as he does into the opposition’s half, although he does have good spatial awareness to make up for his lack of pace.
DF Gabriel Magalhaes, 4 — There are leadership qualities in Gabriel’s game that should be admired but there are also times when he falls into complacent decision making, such as when he gave away the penalty.
DF Granit Xhaka, 5 — Clearly isn’t destined to play at left-back for the rest of his career but he did look dangerous when surging into Fulham’s half.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 5 — The Egypt international does the simple things well enough, although that doesn’t mean a whole lot when he can’t dictate the pace in midfield.
MF Daniel Ceballos, 7 — Almost had a goal to his name with a lovely cushioned header that was narrowly ruled out. In terms of his overall performance, there’s still shortcomings in the consistency department that he needs to work on.
FW Bukayo Saka, 7 — Great link-up play, solid determination and a desire to get at the Cottagers made for a decent day at the office for Saka.
AM Emile Smith Rowe, 6 — His movement and instincts are promising for a player of only 20, although his creative edge dwindled significantly in the second half.
FW Gabriel Martinelli, 6 — There’s a real excitement behind Martinelli’s positive approach to the game, even though his end product was largely off the mark today.
ST Alexandre Lacazette, 6 — Turned from top finisher to good distributor right up until he was forced off due to an unfortunate injury.
MF Thomas Partey, 6 — Helped to steady the flow in the middle of the park, even if he couldn’t do enough to inspire a valiant comeback.
FW Nicolas Pepe, 5 — Was unlucky not to score with a close range header that was cleared off the line, but ultimately looked quite rusty in his brief cameo.
ST Eddie Nketiah, N/A — Rarely got on the ball enough to create anything for the Gunners, until he poked the late goal home from close range for a huge equaliser.