LONDON, UK, Aug 27 – Gabriel made amends for a terrible mistake by scoring the winner in a 2-1 home win over Fulham on Saturday as Arsenal won their fourth game in a row to start the Premier League season.
Aleksandar Mitrovic punished an error from Gabriel to give Fulham a surprise lead in the 56th minute, but Martin Odegaard equalized with a deflected effort just after the hour mark.
Gabriel regrouped after a scramble for a corner with five minutes remaining to keep Mikel Arteta’s side two points clear of defending champions Manchester City at the top.
“Big boost, winning like that is really nice,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“We made a mistake and they punished us, but then how we reacted to adversity…how we handled it, the team believed. They wanted to win the game, they went there and we managed to do it.
When asked if Arsenal are ready for a title challenge, Arteta played down expectations.
“No, it’s only the beginning of the season. We are in for a long, long marathon,” he said.
Fulham suffered their first defeat in four outings in their return to the top flight.
After winning their opening three games for the first time in 18 years, Arsenal made two changes to the side that beat Bournemouth with Thomas Partey and Oleksandr Zinchenko out injured.
Kieran Tierney came on at left-back and Mohamed Elneny lined up alongside Granit Xhaka in central midfield.
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno came up against his former club on his second start for Fulham, and the Germany international came wide open to deny Bukayo Saka in the first half.
Gabriel Martinelli clipped the crossbar straight from a corner as Fulham continued to defend well, with Leno fending off Odegaard’s curling attempt early in the second half.
Fulham struck first, however, as Mitrovic robbed Gabriel in the Arsenal box and expertly rolled past Aaron Ramsdale for his fourth goal of the campaign.
Arsenal’s response was timely. Saka exploded towards goal before pushing the ball towards Odegaard, with the Norwegian’s shot hitting Tosin Adarabioyo and Leno on the wrong foot.
The visitors didn’t back down and Ramsdale reacted strongly to deflect a Mitrovic header before William Saliba bravely blocked Bobby Reid’s follow-up.
Leno, who signed a three-year deal with Fulham earlier this month after losing his place at Arsenal to Ramsdale, looked set to frustrate the Gunners with a good save from Eddie Nketiah and Martinelli.
But Gabriel redeemed himself as Leno failed to manage a corner under pressure from both Arsenal centre-backs, allowing the Brazilian to snatch a late winner.
Fulham nearly stole a point in the dying moments but Ramsdale prevented substitute Nathaniel Chalobah from preserving Arsenal’s perfect record.