Arsenal star with nine duels lost was a disaster in damaging Fulham defeat

Arsenal delivered their worst performance of the season as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Fulham, and several players were particularly poor.

Bukayo Saka opened the scoring early on after bundling in a rebound from Gabriel Martinelli’s shot, but Arsenal faded away and eventually conceded to Raul Jimenez and Bobby Reid, whilst struggling in attack.
Arsenal registered just two shots on target including their goal in what was a dreadful display, and no attacking player was up to the required standard. However, despite his goal, Saka delivered arguably one of his worst performances in his entire time as a first-team player.

Bukayo Saka delivered a poor performance in Fulham defeat

With the rain coming down hard at Craven Cottage, both sides struggled to move the ball with any speed, but Arsenal were completely off the boil as they misplaced countless passes throughout the game.

Saka completed just 79% of his attempted passes, and was punished as he was dispossessed in the build-up to Fulham’s equaliser.
He also lost nine of his 12 attempted duels, as Fulham’s defenders consistently launched heavy tackles on him, and he could not build any rhythm going forward as he created just one chance.

With the score at 2-1, Saka was then presented with an opportunity to equalise, but blazed his shot over the bar.

He stayed on for the entire 90 minutes, and was also dribbled past twice in what was a difficult afternoon for him in a physical game.
Saka’s performance today, and indeed against West Ham on Thursday, saw him struggle creatively, and his displays reflected a player in need of a rest.

Mikel Arteta has been reluctant to rotate Saka all season, and he started in all but one Premier League game, whilst consistently playing for 90 minutes.

Emile Smith Rowe was an unused substitute, whilst Reiss Nelson started on the bench again despite some promising displays when starting this season, and Arteta has caused a problem by refusing to give them more chances.
Arsenal have an FA Cup tie against Liverpool coming up before hosting Crystal Palace after a short break, and this lighter schedule should hopefully allow Saka to recover his form, but going forward, there needs to be more rotation to keep the attack fresh and sharp, particularly when the Champions League campaign resumes in February.

Arsenal’s title challenge is in danger of unravelling, and Arteta now has to find internal solutions to the attacking problems within the squad, which could include rotating his key starters more.

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