Arteta delights in seamless introduction of Brazilians, as Arsenal put Fulham away
Mikel Arteta expressed delight at his debutants as the Gunners got their season off to a flier with a 3-0 win at newly-promoted Fulham.
Willian marked his first start following the move from Chelsea with two assists and a hand in the opening goal, while Gabriel – the £23m signing from Lille – produced a composed display which belied his lack of match practice.
“They were both really good,” Arteta said. “Obviously for Willian it’s a little bit easier he knows the league and the country, and he’s very settled here, so I knew that his performance would happen straight away.
“With Gabriel, it was a big challenge for him today to come in. He hasn’t played any football in the last six months and he had a terrific performance also.
“Ideally, I wanted to give him some more time because he only trained for a few days with the team and physically, he hasn’t played a competitive match in six months. So obviously it was a risk of injury as well, but credit to him he performed really well.
“It’s really good for their confidence and belief to settle in the group quickly.”
Fulham boss Scott Parker will have to hope the defensive frailties on show were not a harbinger of doom. Their dreadful problems at the back cost them dearly last time they were in the Premier League, when they were relegated with 26 points.
“I thought in the first half we played very well,” he said. “I liked our intent and we put Arsenal under some real pressure. We were showing a way about us. But we had moments you need to make count.
“You also need to make sure you defend a little bit better. The second goal is really weak, on our behalf. A set-play goal – and a real weakness. They come and load underneath the bar with a lot of players and I didn’t see much fight there at that moment.
“It was a poor goal to concede and in this division for us this year, if we are going to be expecting to score three goals to win or two to get draws, it’s going to be pretty tough for us, certainly against teams like Arsenal. We'll keep improving and understand where we need to get better.”