Arsenal had to draw on all their mental resolve to fight back against Fulham, and there’s plenty we learned from the 2-1 success.
1 - The atmosphere at the Emirates is the best it's ever been.
N5 was a cacophony of undying support this evening, 60,000 fans supporting with every fibre of their being.
Even in the face of Gabriel’s mistake, the fans - as they did with Saliba against Leicester - increased the noise, forcing the ball into the net through sheer volume.
Arteta has been adamant that the heart of a winning culture is a strong relationship between fans and players, something that is ever growing.
FULL-TIME SCENES. 🤩— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 27, 2022
(Featuring Saliba x Tequila 😉)
[@SkySportsPL] #afc pic.twitter.com/kJxHUPGlor
Seeing the Women's team in attendance furthered this connection, with the camera after both goals panning to Leah Williamson, with the Gunners smashing the railing in celebration.
2 - Zinchenko was sorely missed.
Despite a dominant display, the Ukrainian’s dictation of play was painfully absent.
Whilst Tierney didn’t do anything wrong per se, the drop off in technical quality was an eyesore at times.
Arteta spoke of ‘pausa’ from his players in All or Nothing, and Zinchenko is the embodiment of this.
In the 25-year-old’s absence, rotations on the left hand side were noticeably less fluid.
Oleksandr Zinchenko, not in the matchday squad due to injury, celebrating Gabriel Magalhães’ goal to put Arsenal ahead against Fulham. ❤️ #afc pic.twitter.com/JrdI4nULPM— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 27, 2022
3 - Arteta has a plan B.
An oft thrown critique at the Spaniard is his lack of in-game flexibility, however, he put that accusation to bed tonight.
In bringing Nketiah on for Tierney shortly after conceding, the shape shifted to 4-4-2, with Martinelli and Saka both having stints at fullback.
This in part is thanks to Xhaka’s adaptability, with the Swiss able to fill in as one of the two attackers bomb forward, meaning both defensive and offensive solidity is maintained.
For Nketiah, he did his chances no harm, changing the game once he came on, with him and Jesus stretching the back three of Fulham.
Mikel Arteta on Nketiah: “It’s not as simple as that [just bringing a striker on], it’s what we’ve practiced, the variety of formations we can use, how we can make each other better, attack different spaces. Then you look in his eye & you say, ‘He is ready for a fight’.” #afc— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 27, 2022
4 - Odegaard is fulfilling his duties as captain.
Wow. Little words do justice to the performance of the Norwegian, he’s an artist, a poet oozing footballing excellence on the Emirates canvas.
When nerves could have developed, the club captain took the game by the scruff of the neck, driving forward, both through passes and dribbles.
The forward line needn’t even look at the 23-year-old, if they made a run into space, the no.8 would find them, without question.
On another day, he could have had four assists, but that’s of no concern to Odegaard, whose performance transcended statistics.
Official: Martin Ødegaard has been awarded Man of the Match for his performance vs. Fulham this evening. [Sky] #afc pic.twitter.com/ldcMGyGaD1— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 27, 2022
His goal was fortuitous, both nonetheless deserved, and a result of a new found desire to shoot, and trust in his abilities to do so.
5 - The players are family.
In his post match interview with Sky Sports, Gabriel spoke with honesty about his mental state after making the mistake for Mitrovic’s opener.
The Brazilian felt vulnerable after the mistake, but his teammates rallied around him, with the defender saying:
“After I lose the ball, my head is down. But I look at my brothers, and they say “Gabi let’s go let’s go” and I put my head up”
Like with the atmosphere at the ground, this is the manifestation of the culture instilled by Arteta.
Arsenal match-winner Gabriel Magalhães reluctantly handing Martin Ødegaard the Man of the Match award in the post-match interview. 😂 #afc pic.twitter.com/mpog3brp4M— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 27, 2022
No individual is to blame, if you lose, you lose as a team, and the same is true of winning.
Even in the immediate aftermath of the mistake, Ramsdale can be seen grabbing the shoulders of the Brazilian and encouraging him to forget about it, what’s done is done.
In a season where the Gunners look to secure Champions League football, that mental fortitude is a necessity.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: Arsenal, Gabriel Magalhaes, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Mikel Arteta, Eddie Nketiah, Premier League, Martin Odegaard