Arsenal failed to end 2023 leading the Premier League following a 2-1 loss against Fulham at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
Mikel Arteta’s men, who led England’s top division on Christmas Day, knew the reward of success here could be fleeting as Liverpool entertain Newcastle on New Year’s Day, but that’s now inconsequential given this latest setback.
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Having only lost two of their opening 18 Premier League games this season (12 wins and four draws), the Gunners have since lost both of their last two, just the second time since the start of last season that Arsenal have suffered back-to-back league defeats (also in May).
It started promising when Bukayo Saka put the visitors ahead in the fifth minute. He’s now scored two Premier League goals in the opening five minutes – both coming on NYE (also last year against Brighton, second minute). This also happened to be his tenth London derby goal for Arsenal in the Premier League; only Harry Kane (15) has ever scored more capital derby goals in competition history while aged 22 or younger.
Furthermore, each of Saka’s last five Premier League strikes given Arsenal the lead in a match, while his last four had been the game-opener – these are both his longest such runs in the competition.
Back with a bang. 🇲🇽 pic.twitter.com/0tpw1UbpjC
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) December 31, 2023
Normally, a good luck charm, Saka’s effort was in vain as Raúl Jiménez equalised before Bobby De Cordova-Reid netted the winner. Jiménez’s fourth of the season, coming across his last four appearances in the Premier League, as many as he had scored across his previous 50 games in the competition.
The former Wolves marksman, returning from suspension, was indebted to player-of-the-match Tom Cairney, who had provided two assists in 96 Premier League matches before December, this month alone has provided three.
As for De Cordova-Reid, he also scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season for Fulham (18th appearance), matching his total for the whole of last season (36 appearances).
De Cordova-Reid’s winner came in the 59th minute. Before today, four of the five previous Premier League meetings between Fulham and Arsenal that have been 1-1 at half-time, Arsenal have gone on to win the match – drawing the other.
Fulham have turned this one on its head! 🙃
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 31, 2023
Although they huffed and puffed, the Gunners couldn’t turn it around, meaning they lost a Premier League game in which they scored the game’s opening goal since New Year’s Day 2022 against Manchester City (Bukayo Saka put them 1-0 up both then and today). It ended the Gunners’ run of 48 league games unbeaten when going 1-0 ahead (42 wins and six draws).
As for the hosts, Fulham rightfully celebrated in the rain, they ended their 11-game winless run against Arsenal in the Premier League (three draws and eight losses), with this their first league win over the Gunners since January 2012 (2-1). But even more psychologically uplifting; before today Fulham had failed to win any of their last 23 Premier League matches after conceding first, losing no less than 20 – including all of the last six. That’s quite the streak Silva’s team put to rest.