Gabriel Magalhaes went from zero to hero as he atoned for giving Fulham the lead by scoring the winning goal and extending Arsenal’s perfect start to the Premier League season.
The Brazilian defender was badly caught by Aleksandar Mitrovic when the Gunners came from behind to win 2-1 and maintain their place at the top of the table.
Mitrovic’s goal, his 100th for Fulham and fourth of the season – already more than he managed in the entire relegation two years ago – gave the visitors hope of continuing their start to the season without defeat.
Instead, Martin Odegaard equalized with a deflected shot before Gabriel made amends by closing the winner at home with five minutes to go.
Mikel Arteta was forced to make changes to his lineup for the first time this season due to the abandonment of injured Thomas Partey and Oleksandar Zinchenko.
Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli had their first chances without testing former Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno, the hosts built up some strength in the same way as last week’s win in Bournemouth.
Unlike their South Coast win, however, the Gunners failed to set the tone with a quick opening goal as Fulham kept them at bay.
Leno was not forced into significant action until after the half hour, holding out Bukayo Saka’s shot as the striker beat Fulham’s offside trap to go one-on-one with his old teammate.
That proved to be the only shot on target by both sides at first forgettable, with Arsenal largely frustrated by Marco Silva’s men.
Gabriel Jesus should have done better with a chance as the hosts tried to kick forward after half-time, scoring a tame shot on Leno after being found in the box by Xhaka.
But it would have been Fulham to break the deadlock, Gabriel caught lingering in possession of Mitrovic, who overpowered his scorer and went home calmly.
Arteta reacted by introducing Eddie Nketiah and going three back and paid dividends immediately.
Odegaard, fresh from a brace against the Cherries, equalized with a bit of luck when his shot deflected on Tosin Adarabioyo and passed Leno on the wrong foot.
Fulham were still in the game and came close to regaining the lead, Aaron Ramsdale pushing away a massive header from Mitrovic before Ben White bravely blocked Bobby Decordova-Reid’s following.
With Arsenal stepping up the march, Nketiah shot wide before pulling straight at Leno from a cut from Martinelli and then inflating his lines with another decent chance.
Leno had enjoyed his return to Emirates Stadium, turning a shot from Martinelli from a sharp angle behind as the home team continued to force the problem.
But from the resulting corner it would be Gabriel to atone for his previous mistake, bringing home the loose ball after Leno failed to tackle a corner dropped at the Brazilian’s feet.
The goal survived two checks by the VAR, the first for a foul on Leno and the second for a hand ball against Gabriel, both of which were tight calls that went in favor of Arsenal.
There was still time for Ramsdale to make a nice save and prevent Fulham replacement Nathaniel Chalobah from getting a draw as Arteta’s side held out for three more points.