Our Arsenal week 26 match review covers Arsenal’s 2-2 draw against Sporting Club de Portugal in the Europa League and Arsenal’s 3-0 win against Fulham in the Premier League. Let’s get into this latest match review.
Arsenal Week 26 Match Review: The Positives
One major positive from Arsenal’s 2-2 draw against Sporting was Tomiyasu’s performance. Tomiyasu replaced Zinchenko in the 63rd minute and immediately looked sharp. He had a poor game against Bournemouth, but he demonstrated his value once more against Sporting. Tomiyasu defended well and did a fairly good job of getting forward to support Saka on the right when Arsenal attacked. Given Tomiyasu’s abilities and his performances last season, he will play a part in Arsenal’s remaining games this season, especially if Arsenal advance to the next round of the Europa League.
Saliba also played well against Sporting. He defended well, both in the air and on the ground. Neither of Sporting’s goals were Saliba’s fault. Saliba also scored Arsenal’s opening goal against Sporting and helped Arsenal get a draw in that fixture.
Xhaka had a good game against Sporting, as well. He did look a bit tired at times, but he still got forward well and took a good shot that lead to a Sporting own goal to draw Arsenal level at 2-2. Xhaka has looked close to his pre-World Cup best in recent games and that bodes well for the Gunners’ remaining fixtures.
Reiss Nelson played for 70 minutes against Sporting and looked lively throughout the game. He put in some good crosses and created some chances for Arsenal. Nelson was certainly one of the players who seemed to be troubling Sporting’s defense more than others in that Europa League game.
Martinelli Scored Against Fulham
Gabriel Martinelli appears to be back to his best now. Martinelli scored Arsenal’s second goal against Fulham, an easy header without a challenge from a Fulham player. He also looked dangerous throughout the game, nearly scoring a second goal of his own against Fulham. Only a good save from Leno denied Martinelli a brace at Craven Cottage. Martinelli now has 12 Premier League goals so far this season.
Arsenal Got Seven Shots on Target against Fulham
The Gunners dominated Fulham at Craven Cottage and were efficient with their shots, getting seven out of their 15 shots on target. Fulham have rarely found themselves overwhelmed when playing at home, but that’s precisely what happened in the first half. Arsenal took good shots throughout the game and forced Leno to make four saves in this match. The Gunners could have easily scored 4-6 goals in the first half against Fulham.
The Gunners’ Defense Against Fulham Was Excellent
Fulham have some dangerous players that can cause opposing defenses problems, from Mitrovic to De Cordova-Reid to Manor Solomon. However, Arsenal defended quite well and only allowed Fulham to get two shots on target in the entire match. Ben White handled Manor Solomon well and ensured his impact on the game was minimal.
Saliba and Gabriel shut down Mitrovic for the most part, too. Mitrovic had no clear chances and only managed one decent header that hit the crossbar. Given how Mitrovic scored against Arsenal in the reverse fixture, it was impressive to see Saliba and Gabriel handle him so calmly. Zinchenko also defended well when necessary and his defending appears to have improved under Arteta’s management.
The Gunners also defended set-pieces well against Fulham. This was encouraging, particularly considering the fact that Arsenal have struggled to defend set-pieces in recent weeks. Fulham had four corners, but rarely threatened Arsenal as a result of these corners.
Arsenal Week 26 Match Review: Gabriel Scored Against Fulham
Gabriel Magalhaes is excellent when attacking from set-piece situations, as well. Gabriel scored his third goal of the season against Fulham following a great corner from Leandro Trossard. This was Gabriel’s second goal of the season against Fulham, having scored the match-winning goal in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. It’s great to see Arsenal defenders pitch in with a few goals every now and then.
Arsenal’s Midfield Trio Was Phenomenal
All three of Arsenal’s starting midfielders excelled against Fulham. Partey dominated the midfield, winning possession multiple times and driving the Gunners forward. Partey shut down many potential Fulham attacks before they could even begin. He demonstrated why he is the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League this season.
Granit Xhaka had another good performance against Fulham. Xhaka made good runs to support Arsenal’s attack and helped Arsenal have 55% possession against Fulham. Xhaka looked back to his best against Fulham, even though he could have done better with his goal-scoring opportunity.
Martin Odegaard played well at Craven Cottage. Odegaard repeatedly showed his skill with creative passes, cheeky nutmegs, and good late runs into the box. Odegaard capped off his performance with a goal in the first half, easily getting past two Fulham defenders before firing a left-footed shot into the bottom left corner. That goal was Odegaard’s 10th Premier League goal of the season, giving Arsenal three players with at least 10 Premier League goals this season (10 for Saka and 12 for Martinelli).
Trossard Got a Hat-Trick of Assists in One Half
Leandro Trossard has been a revelation for Arsenal since signing for the club in the January window. He got three assists in the first half against Fulham. Trossard’s decision-making is quick but sharp and he repeatedly caused the Fulham defense problems with his left-footed cutbacks across the box. Trossard nearly scored in the first half, as well. Trossard is an easy choice for Man of the Match against Fulham, despite other strong performances.
Gabriel Jesus Returned
Gabriel Jesus made the matchday squad against Fulham. Surprisingly, he played roughly 15 minutes at Craven Cottage, as well. Jesus looked sharp overall against Fulham, showcasing some brilliant dribbling and his excellence in tight spaces. Jesus did miss his chance to score against Fulham, but he also created several other chances and looked far sharper than I expected given his lengthy absence. Gabriel Jesus will likely play a significant role for Arsenal for the remainder of the season.
Arsenal Week 26 Match Review: The Negatives
Jakub Kiwior had a difficult Arsenal debut against Sporting in the Europa League. He didn’t play particularly well and could have done better to stop Sporting’s first goal of that match. Since it was his debut, it’s fair not to go overboard with the criticism, but he certainly didn’t have a good first game for the Gunners.
Matt Turner also had a surprisingly poor game against Sporting. Turner has played well for Arsenal in the Europa League, but he made a significant error against Sporting that directly led to their first goal. Given Turner’s previous Europa League performances, I expect him to bounce back, but it was far from a convincing performance from the American keeper.
Arsenal also conceded from a set-piece once more against Sporting. The Gunners have struggled to defend set-pieces in recent weeks and did so again when facing Sporting. Arsenal will have to do better in this area in order to continue their quest to win both the Europa League and the Premier League.
The Gunners Could Have Scored More Against Fulham
Arsenal beat Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage in the Premier League, but the Gunners could have scored more goals. An Antonee Robinson own goal was disallowed in the first half due to a close off-side call. Meanwhile, Xhaka, Trossard, and Jesus could all have done better with their shots. The Gunners have a +37 goal difference now, but that goal difference could have been even better by the end of the match against Fulham.
Arsenal Week 26 Match Review: Ramsdale Made One Big Error Against Fulham
Overall, Ramsdale had a bit of a mixed performance at Craven Cottage. He made one good save in the second half to preserve Arsenal’s clean sheet. However, he did make one significant error in the first half, specifically a poor pass that went straight to a Fulham player. That could have led to a Fulham goal. Ramsdale hasn’t made many errors in recent weeks, but he will have to ensure that he doesn’t repeat his error against Fulham in future matches.
Manager Ratings: 7/10 vs. Sporting; 10/10 vs. Fulham
Arteta gets a 7/10 rating for the match against Sporting in the Europa League. The rotations were understandable, but Kiwior and Turner specifically played poorly and contributed to Arsenal only getting a draw in that game. Additionally, Arteta did not seem to do a good job of addressing the Gunners’ set-piece vulnerability against Sporting, either. Still, substituting Tomiyasu on for Ben White was a good decision and solidified the Gunners’ defense for the remainder of that game.
Arteta gets a well-deserved 10/10 rating for the match against Fulham in the Premier League. He chose an excellent starting 11 and made the right substitutes as well. Fulham had only lost one of their previous seven games at Craven Cottage, but Arteta’s Arsenal made the victory look easy for the most part. Arsenal’s dominance against Fulham was impressive, particularly in the final 20 minutes of the first half. The Gunners controlled most of the rest of the match against Fulham, as well. Jesus’s introduction in the 77th minute was a great way to cap off this win. Jesus was sharp in the time he played at Craven Cottage.
Arsenal Play Sporting Again Before Hosting Crystal Palace at the Emirates
Arsenal first play Sporting once more in the return leg at the Emirates with the aggregate score at 2-2. The Gunners may field a stronger starting 11 against Sporting this time, given how the first leg turned out. After that, Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace at the Emirates and has a chance to go eight points clear of Manchester City since City aren’t playing a Premier League game this weekend. Those two games are both important and I would bet on another Arsenal victory in the Premier League, given the Gunners’ overall dominance in home Premier League games and Palace’s recent struggles.
Check back next week for more Arsenal content.