Polished Arsenal have way too much for Fulham, as defensive lapses are punished
Fulham 0 Arsenal 3
Well it was a bit better for Fulham than last time. But only marginally.
When the Gunners last paid a visit to Craven Cottage they helped themselves to a nap hand and there were times when this stroll threatened to match that 5-1 drubbing of two seasons ago.
Scott Parker will be mindful that his side cannot afford a repeat of the defensive shortcomings which led to relegation then in such a supine manner. They have worked too hard to get back to the top flight to fritter it away again so easily.
The gulf in class was again all-to-evident for the newly-promoted Whites, who had better adjust to life in the Premier League much better than they did last time.
That said, they were playing a Gunners side who are in the mood to build momentum after last season’s FA Cup triumph and the recent Community Shield win over Liverpool. They are looking a much more serious outfit now as Mikel Arteta starts to mould the kind of side that is starting to show more backbone than in recent years.
Summer-signing Willian played a key part in the win, being involved in the first for Alexander Lacazette and then claiming an assist for second half goals for debutant defender Gabriel and the supreme finisher that is Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang.
Fulham created the first moments of danger but the Gunners were soon in front, when Lacazette picked up the loose pieces after a Granit Xhaka shot had been blocked and Willian’s follow-up was also thwarted by Marek Rodak.
In the first passages of play, Abou Kamara almost capitalised on a weak backpass from Ashley Maitland-Niles, but Bernt Leno snuffed out the danger. Then Denis Odoi cut in from the right to test the Arsenal keeper with a powerful low shot from the edge of the area. But those moments were about as good as it got for the hosts.
Willian, enjoying himself in a familiar blue kit in his first league match for the Gunners since the summer defection to north London, gave every sign that he will be a great addition for the club.
Arteta will look to the Brazilian to create chances for his side this term and his free-kicks should add an extra dimension too. He struck a post from one dead ball inside the D after Michael Hector had clumsily upended Lacazette and although Joe Bryan gave a good account of himself, for the most part, the winger always carried a threat, claiming two assists.
First, his corner has nodded home by Gabriel, just three minutes into the second half, then a 57th minute breakaway ended with his floated pass finding Aubameyang in the inside-left channel and a cut back inside onto the right foot opened up all the space the Gabon striker needed to finish the job.
Alexander Mitrovic, still nursing his way back to full fitness, came on just past the hour, but the damage had already been done.
He was soon rolling a defender to fire low at Leno but the visitors always looked on the verge of adding further punishment. Hector headed another Aubameyang shot off the line to prevent further bloodshed.
Fulham: Rodak – Odoi, Hector, Ream, Bryan – Reed, Cairney – Kebano (Anguissa 63), Onomah (DeCordova-Reid 75), Cavaleiro – Kamara (Mitrovic 63). Subs not used: Areola, Knockaert, Le Marchand, Christie
Arsenal: Leno – Holding, Gabreil, Tierney – Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka (Ceballos 79), Maitland-Niles – Willian (Pepe 76), Lacazette (Nketiah 87), Aubameyang. Subs not used: Saka, Willock, Kolasinac, Macey