A late equaliser saw 10-man Fulham claim a 2-2 draw at Emirates Stadium, after we had fought back from a goal down to get ourselves in front.
The topsy-turvy affair started when Andreas Pereira stunned the home crowd when he netted within the first minute, but a second-half fightback saw Bukayo Saka score from the spot, and two minutes later Eddie Nketiah tucked home a Fabio Vieira cross to turn the game on its head.
Calvin Bassey was then dismissed for the Cottagers, but they still managed to hit back through Joao Palhinha with just four minutes remaining.
Things started in the worst possible fashion when after just 57 seconds, we fell behind. A loose pass by Saka was pounced upon by Pereira, and the Brazilian surprised Aaron Ramsdale by shooting first-time from 25 yards and seeing the ball curl into the net via the near post.
It took us some time to recover from that setback, and we mustered just a tame Gabriel Martinelli attempt before we nearly fell two goals behind.
With the ball bouncing inside our arena Raul Jimenez produced an acrobatic effort to hook the ball goalwards and saw it drop just the right side of the post from a home perspective, before Harry Wilson drilled wide soon after as Fulham continued to pose problems.
After the storm
As the weather turned from a sunny summer’s day to torrential rain, the visitors soon found themselves soaking up plenty of pressure as we slowly found our rhythm. Saka saw a downward header from close range clear the crossbar before Leno shovelled a Martinelli drive around the near post, and then the Brazilian shot tamely at him again as our search for an equaliser continued.
We thought it had arrived when Havertz seemed to have sprung the offside trap and teed up Martin Odegaard to fire into the bottom corner but the offside flag rightly halted our celebrations, before the skipper tried his luck from further out but Leno did well to catch as the thunder and lightning greeting the half-time whistle.
Lightning strikes twice
The second 45 began with Bobby DeCordova-Reid bending a shot just wide of the far post, and soon after Arteta shuffled his pack by introducing Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira, having also thrown on Nketiah at the break.
From that point onwards, we looked much more menacing in attack with Odegaard twice twisting and turning in trademark fashion to get shots away but without causing Leno too many difficulties as we ramped up the pressure.
And midway through the second half, Fulham finally cracked as we netted two goals in two minutes. Martinelli trickled a pass through for Vieira to run onto inside the box, and he was felled by a sliding tackle by Kenny Tete to hand us the chance to equalise from 12 yards. Unlike at Crystal Palace on Monday night, Saka opted to take it and despite a long delay, he kept his cool to send Leno the wrong way.
Moments later, things got even better when Odegaard won the ball back high up the pitch and Saka produced a delicious pass out to Vieira, whose inch-perfect centre was tucked home by Nketiah to elicit a roar from the Emirates Stadium crowd louder than the thunder clapping around north London.
Palhinha pulls Fulham level
As the visitors attempted to respond, their efforts were made harder on 84 minutes when Bassey was sent off for a second bookable offence after blocking off Nketiah as we attempted to counter, but three minutes later they managed to pull level again.
After winning a corner, the 10 men regrouped and Harrison Reed’s delivery found Palhinha in space, and he struck the ball past the despairing dive of Ramsdale to equalise against the odds.
Nine minutes of stoppage-time were added but the hosts nearly snatched it when Adama Traore raced through to go one-on-one with Ramsdale but our shot-stopper stayed big and managed to block the effort to deny Fulham their first-ever away win at our expense.
And in the final seconds, Leno had to tip over a fierce Vieira shot from the edge of the area to ensure a pulsating game ended level.
Facts and stats
We have never lost at home against Fulham in league competition, winning 24 games and drawing seven times from 31 meetings; this is the most one team has faced another at home without losing in English league history.
We have not lost any of their last four Premier League matches when conceding a goal in the first minute, the longest such run of any side in the competition’s history (W2 D2).
Fabio Vieira, who came on in the 56th minute, became the first substitute to win a penalty and assist a goal in the Premier League since Kelechi Iheanacho for Leicester in January 2020, and the first Arsenal player to do so.
Bukayo Saka has appeared in each of our last 83 matches in the Premier League, now the outright longest run of any player for us in the competition, going clear of Paul Merson (1995-1997). The first game in the run came against West Bromwich Albion back in May 2021.
In the next week we’ll find out our League Cup and Champions League opponents, before the transfer window closes on Friday. Then we’re back in action again on Sunday, September 3 when we return to Emirates Stadium to face Manchester United, in our final match before the season’s first international break.
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