Arsenal got up and running the first full campaign of Mikel Arteta through the tap-in of Alexandre Lacazette (9) as Marek Rodak parried the shot of debutant Willian before Willian hit the post with a free-kick.
Willian’s corner was then nodded home by his fellow debutant and man-of-the-match Gabriel Magalhaes after the break (49) before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang curled home a beauty just inside the box from another Willian assist (57) to give Arsenal a commanding opening-day victory.
The energy and confidence of Arsenal were plain to see, with Arteta winning his 18th victory in the last 30 games.
Fulham: Rodak (6), Ream (5), Hector (4), Odoi (6), Bryan (5), Onomah (5), Cairney (5), Reed (5), Kebano (5), Cavaleiro (5), Kamara (4)
Subs: Anguissa (5), Mitrovic (5), Reid (5)
Arsenal: Leno (7), Bellerin (7), Gabriel (8), Holding (7), Tierney (8), Maitland-Niles (7), Elneny (7), Xhaka (7), Willian (8), Aubameyang (7), Lacazette (7)
Subs: Pepe (6), Ceballos (NA), Nketiah (NA)
Man of the match: Gabriel Magalhaes
How Gunners debutants featured
The Premier League kicked off again just 48 days after the 2019/20 season had finished, but it was a 489-day wait for Fulham to put things right following their 2019 relegation.
After a mix-up between himself and Gabriel early on, Bernd Leno had to deny Aboubakar Kamara at his feet, but Arsenal soon found their groove and was ahead with a soft opener from Fulham’s point of view.
Granit Xhaka’s misplaced attempt from the edge of the box fell fortuitously to Willian at close range after Tim Ream failed to clear, and after Marek Rodak parried the Brazilian ‘s close-range shot on the line, Lacazette pounced onto the empty net to tap home.
In the first half, Arsenal looked reasonably secure with Fulham missing bite and the visitors were almost 2-0 up as Willian’s whipped free-kick from 20 yards came off the post.
Four minutes after the break, Arsenal got its second as Gabriel rose easily above Michael Hector to meet the wicked corner of Willian, the ball flying off the defender’s shoulder. The goal stood under new handball rules, but would probably have been disallowed last season.
It was soon 3-0 with a superb team goal; Lacazette did brilliantly to keep the ball on halfway until Willian found Aubayemang with a diagonal galloping into the net. The Gabon forward did the most, curling down from 15 yards into the top corner.
It means Willian is the first player to assist two goals since Ray Parlour against Liverpool in August 1992 on his Premier League debut for Arsenal.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was on Fulham’s bench, favored by Aboubakar Kamara, and the only adjustment from the final Play-Off win over Brentford was Cavaleiro who came in for Cordova-Reid. Also on the bench was new goalkeeper Alphonse Areola who had only joined on Wednesday.
After rounding the goalkeeper, Aubameyang saw a shot from an acute angle cleared off the line by Hector, but Arsenal managed to hold Fulham out in four games to secure their first clean sheet, assisted by the superb Gabriel on his first appearance since the £27 m transfer from Lille.
Arsenal looked well-drilled off the ball as Arteta looks to turn a work in progress into meaningful results, while Fulham knows they’re going to have tougher opponents as they strive to be competitive where they struggled in 2019.
Transfer update: Lacazette, Aubameyang, Holding, Martinez
The new faces of Arsenal stole the headlines in the 3-0 victory over Fulham, but we were given firm hints about the future of many existing players at the Emirates as well.
With his possible move to Aston Villa gaining traction, Emiliano Martinez was not named on the Arsenal bench, but Alexandre Lacazette said after the win that he was happy to stay.
“I’m very happy. It’s just the press that says he’s frustrated and he wants to leave. But I said I ‘m happy with Arsenal from the beginning and” I want to play and win titles, we won a title last month, so I’m happy with Arsenal.
With regard to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the mysterious deal, Mikel Arteta insisted: “I am very sure that we are going to get it done. Hopefully you will get some coverage over the next couple of days.
The Arsenal boss also said defender Rob Holding was going nowhere having been heavily linked to a loan to Newcastle; after David Luiz’s injury, he started in the win.
What the managers said…
Fulham boss Scott Parker on BT Sport: “It’s a big challenge, I’ve said that before. We all realize the challenge ahead. Saying that for 45 minutes in that first half I liked a lot about us. The fine margins at this level, the fine detail, is that you probably need to be a bit more ruthless when chances fall.
“Second half at times we accepted things; but this is part and parcel, this is our journey, we understand where we are and what we need to do. This is a long season for us, and we know where we need to improve. How we move forward will be the bigger test for us.”
- Fulham has lost the last 11 London top-flight derbies-including 10 losses in the 2018/19 season-the longest-ever streak by a top-flight team in history.
- 11 Brazilians have now played in the Premier League for Arsenal, since club debuts for Gabriel and Willian, with only Chelsea and Manchester City (12 each) boasting more.
- Four times Arsenal scored the first goal of a Premier League season, with only Liverpool doing so more regularly (5).
- Alexandre Lacazette (also 2017/18 v Leicester) is the first player to score the opening goal of a Premier League season on more than one occasion.
- Gabriel is the 10th player to score for Arsenal on his Premier League debut, and the first to score in an away match against Everton since Thomas Vermaelen in August 2009.
Arsenal host West Ham on Saturday night at 8 pm in the Premier League, live on the Sky Sports Premier League.
Fulham now travels to Ipswich in the second round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night at 7 pm, before moving to Leeds in the Premier League on Saturday at 3 pm.