Fulham outplayed and outfought in worst performance of the season in Arsenal thrashing
here have been good days and there have been great days for Fulham of late. This was neither. It was perhaps their worst display of the season.
They can be outscored and sometimes outplayed, but they are rarely outfought. They comfortably were at Craven Cottage here.
Marco Silva’s team came across League leaders who have the beast of Manchester City breathing down their necks. Arsenal know they cannot slip up, and Fulham kindly allowed them to run free and score freely.
The Cottagers last beat Arsenal in 2012, and since then the Gunners had won seven of nine meetings coming into this clash. It is a fixture which has historically been very one-sided, and these 90 minutes played out in much the same fashion.
It should concern Marco Silva — and it will concern Fulham fans — just how easily Arsenal’s fluid front three of Leandro Trossard, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli found it to pick them apart and find themselves staring former teammate Bernd Leno in the face.
Arsenal are top of the league, that’s true, but such feeble defending would cost Fulham against most sides in the division. This was a match they lost, as much as one which Mikel Arteta’s scintillating Arsenal won.
Antonee Robinson in particular endured a torrid afternoon. He bundled into his own net after 16 minutes, but VAR spared his blushes when they adjudged assister Gabriel Martinelli to have been just offside.
The decision handed Fulham and Robinson a lifeline, though it was one they were unable to use to their advantage. Soon the advantage was Arsenal’s when Gabriel beat four uncommunicative Fulham players in the air to head in the opener.
Torn apart: Robinson struggled with Arsenal’s fluid attack
Soon it was two, then three, and only when half-time arrived did Fulham’s unforced errors abate and Arsenal’s rampancy relent.
Fulham were better in the second half, but that was improvement from a very low base. They visit Manchester United in their first FA Cup quarter-final since 2010 next weekend. They simply cannot put in a performance similar to this one. If they do, they’ll be out.