Fulham v Arsenal player ratings: Jimenez 8, Iwobi 7; Saka 6, Havertz 5

Mikel Arteta's team suffer damaging Premier League defeat at Craven Cottage

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Arsenal's Premier League title challenge suffered a big blow following a 2-1 defeat at Fulham on Sunday.

Mikel Arteta was looking for a response after losing 2-0 at home to West Ham on Thursday but there was no respite.

The Gunners started brightly at Craven Cottage as Bukayo Saka pounced to tap home his first goal in six games after Bernd Leno parried Gabriel Martinelli's initial effort.

Raul Jimenez was badly missed during his three-game ban for a red card at Newcastle and the Mexican striker kickstarted the Fulham fightback with his fourth goal in as many games.

Willian sent Tom Cairney free down the left and his dangerous low cross was swept home by Jimenez at the back post.

Fulham were the better side in the second half and they got their reward just before the hour mark. Arsenal failed to clear a corner and the ball broke kindly for Bobby De Cordova-Reid to smash home from close range.

Arteta was left fuming after what he considered the worst performance of the season.

"We weren't good enough," said Arteta. "The other day we lost a game (against West Ham) we fully deserved to win and today we were nowhere near the level.

"This one you have to isolate because it's the worst performance of the season."

A lack of a clinical striker has been pinpointed as the major flaw among Arteta's squad that may prevent them from winning a first league title in 20 years. But Arsenal also kept just one clean sheet in eight games in December.

Arteta rejected suggestions he needs to reinforce his squad in the January transfer window.

"If we play like we played in the other 19 games we will be up there," he added.

"If we play like today, we will be nowhere near. Today was a really difficult day to swallow."

Arsenal remain in fourth, two points behind leaders Liverpool and level on 40 points with Manchester City, but having played a game more than both their title rivals.

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Updated: January 01, 2024, 3:51 AM