Gabriel catches up on defensive howl with late goal as Arsenal stay ahead

OF COURSE, Arsenal fans get carried away on their own.

Still, considering they’re still top of the Premier League and still with a 100 per cent record, you can hardly blame them for enjoying the moment.

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Gabriel scored a late winner to keep Arsenal top of the Premier League tableCredit: Getty
Brazilian defender Gabriel was mobbed by his teammates after his strike against Fulham

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Brazilian defender Gabriel was mobbed by his teammates after his strike against FulhamCredit: Reuters

This loud Emirates crowd, which now generates a different level of decibels than in years past, bounced out of the stadium last night.

Will they finish first at the end of the season? Probably not.

But the improvement in attitude, especially when things go a bit pear-shaped, came down to yesterday.

And that’s why Arsenal now appear to have a good chance of finally returning to the Champions League at the end of last season.

Aleksandar Mitrovic put Fulham ahead after stealing possession from Gabriel

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Aleksandar Mitrovic put Fulham ahead after stealing possession from GabrielCredit: AFP
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Mitrovic walked away in joy after scoring his 100th goal for the Cottagers

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Mitrovic walked away in joy after scoring his 100th goal for the CottagersCredit: Reuters

Although still in control, Arsenal had to show patience against an extremely stubborn and impressive Fulham side.

At one point, it looked like the newly promoted club would win at Arsenal for the first time, which is incredible when you consider it was their 31st attempt.

Yet Gabriel Magalhaes, who gave Aleksandar Mitrovic the opener with an embarrassing error, popped up with the winner four minutes from time.

After Martin Odegaard equalized with a deflected strike, former Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno showed exactly why he was bombarded by Mikel Arteta after failing to clear Gabriel Martinelli’s corner.

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The ball landed perfectly for Gabriel who couldn’t really miss but when you look at his previous mistake anything is possible,

For Fulham it was their first defeat, but if they continue to play like this – and not forgetting their previous three results including a draw with Liverpool, Marco Silva’s side will be fine this season.

Arsenal, meanwhile, will be looking to build on their momentum against Aston Villa on Wednesday although they will need to do much better in the final third.

Likewise, Arteta’s side play with enormous confidence and little wonder.

In the first half they dominated, giving Fulham absolutely no time on the ball. The only surprise was that Arteta’s side didn’t pose more problems for Leno.

The German’s last appearance here for Arsenal came in a 5-1 Carabao Cup win over Sunderland last December.

There were cries for a penalty after Joao Palhinha’s challenge on Bukayo Saka but a kick would have been incredibly hard.

And Granit Xhaka lifted a volley over the bar but Gabriel Jesus’ pass could have been better as it was knee high.

Odegaard equalized soon after as his deflected effort squirmed past Bernd Leno

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Odegaard equalized soon after as his deflected effort squirmed past Bernd LenoCredit: PA
Odegaard has scored three Premier League goals in his last two outings

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Odegaard has scored three Premier League goals in his last two outingsCredit: Getty

In fairness Fulham defended well with Tim Ream and Kenny Tete making good tackles

The first big chance – and it took more than half an hour – fell on Saka. After a stunning move, the England international turned Tosin Adarabioyo upside down and then fired a straight shot at Leno.

Martinelli’s corner hit the top of the bar and in added time in the first half, Jesus’ close-range shot was blocked by Ream.

Fulham’s only attempt in the first 45 minutes – and it wasn’t a very good one – came from a rising shot from Andreas Pereira

Arteta had grown testy with referee Jarred Gillett, who had begun to lose his grip on the match.

If the All or Nothing series on Amazon had anything to do with it, the manager would have bounced around the dressing room at half-time, urging them to have more quality up front.

The most comedic moment of the match came courtesy of Neeskens Kebano who threatened to score one of the top goal contenders of the season.

He took the ball from the half-time line and ripped into the Arsenal area and when he tried to send the ball past Aaron Ramssdale he completely missed the ball and ended up in a heap, at the great delight of the local supporters.

William Saliba couldn't believe late draw as Arsenal complete comeback

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William Saliba couldn’t believe late draw as Arsenal complete comebackCredit: PA

Yet shortly after, the supporters were not laughing.

First, Odegaard and Jesus forced Leno’s saves and Arsenal seemed to be turning the screw.

But Gabriel was then guilty of a terrible lack of concentration as he tried to control a risky pass from Saka through the area.

Mitrovic, who hadn’t moved much until then, was on Gabriel like lightning.

He had too much strength for the Brazilian and guided the shot past a stunned Leno.

Mitrovic, who was also having his shirt pulled by Gabriel, ran to the corner to enjoy a frenzied goal celebration.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta will be a relieved man as Arsenal avoided shock defeat

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Gunners boss Mikel Arteta will be a relieved man as Arsenal avoided shock defeatCredit: PA

It stunned Arsenal in action and they responded eight minutes later with Saka feeding Odegaard and his off-foot shot from Leno through a deflection from Adarabioyo.

Saka delivered the assist but Odegaard deserves all the credit as he made room with a step forward.

Eddie Nketiah, who replaced Kieran Tierney after Fulham’s opener, breathed life into Arsenal’s attack and had three good chances.

But considering he didn’t score any of them, it looked like Fulham would walk away with a point.

Still, Arsenal refused to give up and Gabriel ended up becoming the unlikely hero.

There was a VAR check for handball but the goal was given and for now at least Arteta remains above his former club Manchester City.

The Fulham goalkeeper made several important saves on his return to the Emirates

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The Fulham goalkeeper made several important saves on his return to the EmiratesCredit: Getty



Gabriel catches up on defensive howl with late goal as Arsenal stay ahead

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