Match preview Fulham v Arsenal
Live Fulham v Arsenal – Premier League
Peep peep! Arsenal lead through Alexandre Lacazette’s scruffy early goal. It was a half of nice football if few chances: the debutant Willian hit the post with a fine free-kick, and a confident Arsenal deserve to be ahead. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.
44 min “Sammy Nelson, now there’s a blast from the past,” says Christopher Neal. “Once famously scored at both ends against Bristol City and dropped his shorts to the crown in celebration.”
That’s no way to address Her Majesty, etc.
43 min This hasn’t been a mismatch, far from it, but Arsenal’s superior class has been evident in a few key moments.
41 min “While we’re on attire, could Scott Parker be wearing a nicer suit?” says BD Simmons. “It’s making me feel a tad inadequate slouching around in my pyjamas.”
One word, two syllables: Sergio Ramos.
40 min “I am looking forward to Scott Parker’s half-time teamtalk being released as a single,” says Ian Copestake.
39 min Aubameyang is booked for a late tackle on Odoi.
38 min “Chelsea in red away kit used to be commonplace, right up to the 90s,” says Michael Tucker. “Don’t they teach kids anything in school these days? I’ll stop now, nurse is waving a bed pan my way.”
Who could forget the Commodore years.
37 min Tierney curls a terrific ball over the defence to Aubameyang, who controls it on the run and hits a left-footed shot that is saved at the near post by Rodak. That was really nice play from Arsenal.
36 min Fulham haven’t changed their approach since going behind. They’re very patient in possession and make good angles for the man on the ball. The tempo could be a bit quicker; that would be my only criticism.
34 min Lacazette gets behind the defence on the left and crosses towards Willian. Ream does very well to intercept at the near post. It turned out Lacazette was offside, though Ream didn’t know that.
31 min Odoi combines neatly with Kebano on the right and curls a glorious cross that flashes across the six-yard box. Kamara was penalised for a foul on someone at the near post anyway, but it was a brilliant cross.
30 min “It’s not that Arsenal in blue is problematic (it is); it’s that they’re even wearing a change strip to begin with,” says Michael Driscoll. “Red over white is their primary kit. Their clash kit this year is white with red accents. Fulham, as the home team, is wearing their primary white kit with black trim. Why wouldn’t Arsenal just wear their primary kit, as it doesn’t clash with the home side’s primary (and their “clash kit” actually does clash in this case)?”
I’ll give you a £60.00 clue. (£100.00 for the authentic kit, £45.00 for juniors.)
27 min: Willian hits the post! It was a fine free-kick, whipped over the wall towards the side that Rodak was covering, and it dipped sharply before hitting the outside of the post. Rodak wouldn’t have saved it had it been on target.
26 min Hector fouls Lacazette on the edge of the D and is booked. A bigger punishment - a second goal - may follow from the free-kick.
25 min Kamara is brusquely dispossessed by Gabriel, who has defended with authority since that dodgy start.
23 min “Arsenal in blue?” says Stephen Parker. “What is going on? And what’s next? Chelsea in red?”
It’s so weird seeing Willian in a blue shirt. It’s not that unusual for Arsenal, who have had blue change strips in the past. They were wearing one in the Pizzagate match, for example.
21 min Fulham lose the ball in a dangerous area. Willian and Lacazette combine to find Elneny, who dummies Reed and sidefoots a shot that is crucially blocked by Ream. The rebound is wafted into orbit by Xhaka.
18 min “I’ll raise you Mitrovic, Saka and Martinez,” weeps Robin Burchfield.
16 min Bellerin flashes a dangerous ball across the face of goal, then Tierney’s cross is crucially cleared at the near post by Odoi. Arsenal are starting to dominate possession. It’s a pleasant game, very easy on the eye.
15 min “Mitrovic on the bench,” says Matt Dony. “The season is ten minutes old, and already I’m feeling the Fantasy Football-related anger. I never learn. I hate football. Make it stop. Again.”
I’ll see your Mitrovic and raise you Mitrovic and Saliba.
14 min “This is the best stadium in the country, in my opinion,” says Ruth Purdue. “Glad to see it back in the Premier League.”
Now there’s a debate. Not sure I have a favourite, now you mention it.
13 min That goal seems to have relaxed Arsenal, who hadn’t made the greatest start to the game.
12 min “Harsh to include Gooner favourite Sammy Nelson in your 1975 slating, and the fuller picture is that Highbury greats Brady, O’Leary, Rice, Armstrong and Kidd also started, says Michael Tucker. “Mancini was a centre-back and Kelly a winger, a decent one at that. Today they’re fielding Xhaka and Elneny as the Rice and Philips in a vogueish 7-0-3. These young buck managers are so innovative.”
It wasn’t my slating!
11 min A deep cross finds Kebano, whose volley is well blocked by Maitland-Niles.
GOAL! Fulham 0-1 Arsenal (Lacazette 9)
Arsenal take the lead with their first decent attack. Xhaka’s shot from the edge of the area was only half blocked by Hector, leading to a scramble in the six-yard box. Willian’s shot was saved by Rodak and Lacazette tapped the rebound into the empty net.
Updated at 12.42pm BST
8 min Fulham move the ball beautifully down the right, from one of the field to the other. Eventually the right-back Odoi beat Tierney with a Cruyff-turn and hits a left-footed shot from 20 yards that is beaten away by Leno.
Updated at 12.40pm BST
5 min Fulham have made a brisk, confident start to the game. They’re nice to watch, very patient in possession.
Updated at 12.38pm BST
2 min An early chance for Fulham! Maitland-Niles plays a lazy backpass towards Gabriel, who allows it to run through towards Leno. Kamara appears on his blindside and tries to go round Leno, who does well to dive at his feet and push the ball away.
Updated at 12.36pm BST
2 min “Good day Rob,” says Grant Tennille. “Would I be tempting fate, not to mention the wrath of today’s MBM correspondent, by referring to three points against this freshly-promoted Fulham side as ‘bankable’?”
I’m not sure I have any wrath left, but you’d definitely be tempting fate.
1 min After the players on both sides take a knee, Aboubakar Kamara gets the season under way. Fulham are kicking from left to right; Arsenal are in their blue change strip.
The players emerge on a cloudy afternoon in west London. It’s time for the 2020-21 Premier League season. Mercy.
Pre-season optimism “Have Arsenal,” says Charles Antaki, “ever put out a less convincing team on the first day of the season? (Consults reference books.) Season 1975-76: Nelson and Kelly in the back line, with Mancini, Cropley and Hornsby further up (all of whose names should have a “?” attached). The season ended with Arsenal in 17th place. Hmm.”
Some pre-match reading
Choose your own adventure: so you've won promotion to the Premier League …
Premier League 2020-21 preview No 1: Arsenal
Premier League 2020-21 preview No 8: Fulham
A few slight surprises in the teams. Aleksandar Mitrovic and Anthony Knockaert are only on the bench for Fulham, while Gabriel Magalhaes makes his Arsenal debut in defence. It was thought he wouldn’t start as he has only recently started training with his new teammates. Willian also makes his debut.
Updated at 11.42am BST
Fulham (4-2-3-1) Rodak; Odoi, Hector, Ream, Bryan; Reed, Cairney; Kebano, Onomah, Cavaleiro; Kamara.
Substitutes: Areola, Le Marchand, Christie, Knockaert, Anguissa, Mitrovic, Decordova-Reid.
Arsenal (3-4-3) Leno; Holding, Magalhaes, Tierney; Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Macey, Saka, Kolasinac, Ceballos, Willock, Pepe, Nketiah.
Referee Chris Kavanagh.
Updated at 12.03pm BST
Hello and welcome to live coverage of 48 Days Later, a real-time motion picture about the return of the Premier League. It’s been just under seven weeks since the 2019-20 season finished, and now it’s time for the mother of all marathons: a condensed 2020-21 campaign that will test the players like never before. Welcome to the Red Zone season.
We start at Craven Cottage, where newly promoted Fulham host newly optimistic Arsenal. Although Arsenal finished eighth last season, their lowest position for 25 years, they made obvious progress under Mikel Arteta and won the FA Cup in stirring fashion. It’s hard to quantify what would constitute a good season for Arsenal this time. For Fulham, it’s simple: 17th place and an end to the yo-yoing of recent years.
Kick off 12.30pm