The Gunners took a lead just five minutes in but ended the year with their second defeat of the week
LONDON -- With a quarter of this disastrous defeat left to play, Arsenal hardly looked like the title challengers the Premier League table says they are. Still, there was cause for hope that Mikel Arteta might be able to mastermind a Craven Cottage heist. He might have got his initial selection wrong but that at least afforded him the chance to bring high-grade talent on from the bench.
Out came the man who had forced the opener, Gabriel Martinelli, and perhaps even more perplexingly, Ben White. Arsenal's right back had hardly set the contest alight; for some time now he has been running with the heavy legs of someone playing through a knock. Into the fray went Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Jesus; Arsenal resorting to the 3-1-desperation formation that propelled such dramatic fight backs against Bournemouth and Southampton last season.
Before the game was out the pressure was remorseless. Fulham simply could not be quelled. They might have added deserved luster to their 2-1 win. Tom Cairney drew a fine save from David Raya while William Saliba flirted with a red card challenge when he hurled Harry Wilson to the deck. From the moment Arteta shuffled his pack Fulham had more shots, more expected goals, more penalty box touches. Arsenal's defeat was comprehensive and deserved.