Premier League • England

Pundit blasts Arsenal man who ‘looked lost’ in Fulham defeat; slams ‘one of the worst’ performances under Arteta

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta

Former Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Jamie Redknapp has criticised an Arsenal man for his poor performance as they lost 2-1 away to Fulham on Sunday afternoon.

It looked set to be a great day for the Gunners when Gabriel Martinelli caught Fulham out on the counter-attack and forced a great save from ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno, which allowed Bukayo Saka to net in just the fifth minute.

However, Marco Silva’s side drew level just before the half-hour mark. After some good work by another former Arsenal player – Willian – down the left, Tom Cairney picked out Raul Jimenez at the back post, and the striker did well to finish first time.

At half time, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta opted to make a change at left-back, with Takehiro Tomiyasu replacing Jakub Kiwior. Usual left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko was not available after picking up a slight calf issue.

But the change did not work, as instead it was Fulham who took the lead in the 59th minute. Willian sent a corner into the Arsenal box and Joao Palhinha shrugged Declan Rice off to win the first header. Gabriel Magalhaes and Tomiyasu failed to clear, allowing Bobby Decordova-Reid to finish from close range.

Despite Arteta throwing on the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Leandro Trossard, Arsenal failed to drag themselves level, with Palhinha pulling off a brilliant goal-saving tackle against Saka. And Fulham almost made it 3-1 when Andreas Pereira hit the crossbar with a brilliant free-kick.

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Following this disappointing result and the 2-0 loss to West Ham United on Thursday, Arsenal have now fallen to fourth in the Premier League standings, having also played a game more than Liverpool and Manchester City.

During an appearance on Sky Sports, Redknapp criticised the Arsenal players for their sub-par display at Craven Cottage.

Arsenal were ‘so flat’ against Fulham – observer

“I can’t think of too many worse performances under Mikel Arteta. They were so flat,” he said (31/12, at 16:05).

“Everything they tried didn’t work. He made the substitution at half time, taking off Kiwior and bringing on Tomiyasu, [it] didn’t work. They just didn’t have that spark, that energy. Congratulations to Fulham but I was so disappointed with Arsenal today. They never got anything going.”

Attention then turned to the Arsenal midfield. “With Rice, Odegaard and Havertz, they never quite got that balance right today,” Redknapp continued. “They didn’t have enough energy, they didn’t have that quality they normally possess.

“In every department, Fulham were the better side today, considering how well Arsenal started. After five minutes I thought they were gonna go on and win this game comfortably.”

When analysing Arsenal’s early opener, Redknapp added: “I felt this might be a real theme for the game, with Castagne and Martinelli. You could see there, it’s a bit of risk/reward [for Fulham].

“Palhinha has to travel 50 yards [to cover Castagne]. I thought, ‘this is going to be perfect for Arsenal, they’ll just keep hitting them on the counter-attack’.

“It’s obviously a scruffy finish [from Saka], but it should have been the catalyst for Arsenal to go on and win this game so comfortably. They’ve got the players to do it, but they just didn’t have that spark today.”

Gunners defender ‘looked lost’

The pundit went on to slam Tomiyasu, who was actually a ‘nuisance’ for his team-mates, rather than helping Arsenal turn things around.

“I look at the full-backs, what are they bringing at the moment? He tried the change at half time, Tomiyasu comes in at midfield and all he did was make a nuisance of himself for his own team,” Redknapp declared.

“He was never giving any width. You can sometimes create two-v-ones, then Decordova-Reid has to go mark him. But Tomiyasu just looked lost in there, that certainly didn’t help the situation.

“Midfield they weren’t quite right, and they were obviously not creating enough, so they’re not gonna score goals. It’s so much possession without the purpose that you need.”

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