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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Craven Cottage

Arsenal in no mood to give ground at the summit as Fulham are brushed aside with ease

Fulham (0) 0

Arsenal (3) 3 Gabriel 21, Martinelli 26, Odegaard 45

Arsenal flattened Fulham with a sublime first half display which ensures their five-point lead over Man City is restored with 11 to play.

The Gunners were simply irresistible against a way-too-passive Whites team and but for wayward finishing, the damage would have been even more severe.

Leandro Trossard – the winter buy of the season – claimed an assist for all three goals and almost scored himself, while VAR intervened to cancel out an Antonee Robinson own goal by flagging up Gabriel Martinelli as marginally offside as he darted around Kenny Tete when the score was still 0-0.

The winger, looking back at his sharpest after a relatively quiet spell, had raced on to force a save from ex Gunner Bernd Leno which Robinson inadvertently deflected into his own net from the rebound.

Arsenal’s two starting Brazilians scored with headers within about five minutes of each other midway through the opening half to set the tone.

Gabriel rose highest to nod in a corner, then Trossard’s cross to the far post after a lightning break out led by Granit Xhaka found Martinelli, who got above Robinson to double the lead.

Martin Odegaard bagged the third just before the turnaround, controlling a pass from Trossard on the left before setting himself to drill firmly to Leno’s right.

As in the defeat at Brentford on Monday, the Whites badly missed the suspended Joao Palhinha, but they also paid for the drop in form experienced by a once unstoppable Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The Serb has now not scored in nine Premier League matches.

One first half chance he spurned summed up his current woes. He got behind Ben White to collect a cross from Andreas Pereira from the right, but with the goal at his mercy, lofted a tame shot over the bar. The Mitro of early season would have put that away.

Marco Silva will have demanded a better showing after the break and got one, even if the outcome was already decided. Bobby Decordova-Reid forced Aaron Ramsdale into a fine save and Tosin thudded a header against the crossbar.

But even a Gunners team now operating with reduced gears to conserve energy ahead of the battles to come, still created dangerous moments.

A beautiful flowing move from right to left ended with Xhaka’s cute lay-off and only a superb intervention from Tete denied Martinelli a second goal for the afternoon.

A near-perfect day for the Gunners included the long-awaited return to the fold of Gabriel Jesus as a late substitute. Injured in the World Cup, this was his first appearance of the year and he is just in time to do his bit in that push for the title.

He almost scored too, denied by the feet of Leno after a counter-attack. That's five wins in a row for the Gunners at the Cottage now. They seem to like it here.

Whites: (4-2-3-1) Leno – Tete, Tosin, Ream, Robinson – Reed, Lukic – Decordova-Reid, Pereira (James 75), Solomon (Wilson 75) – Mitrovic. Subs not used: Rodak, Wickens, Vinicius, Diop, Francois, Harris, C Robinson

Gunners: (4-3-3) Ramsdale – White (Tomiyasu 80), Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Tierney 72) – Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka – Saka (Nelson 72), Trossard (Jesus 77) Martinelli (Vieira 77). Subs not used: Turner, Smith Rowe, Holding, Jorginho

Attendance: 24,426


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