Arsenal have begun their 2020-21 season with a 3-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage. Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all were on target as the Gunners produced a fine display to see off the Cottagers in their Premier League return.
Story of the game
Scott Parker made one change from the side that defeated Brentford in the play-off final with Ivan Cavaleiro coming in for Bobby Decordova-Reid and the hosts were presented with a chance two minutes into the match when Gabriel misjudged a back pass that was intercepted by Aboubakar Kamara.
His shot was denied by goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who anticipated the Ivorian's dink. They were presented with another opportunity as Denis Odoi tried his luck from 20 yards away with Leno again denying the hosts. Despite this, Arsenal took the lead shortly thereafter.
Tim Ream deflected Granit Xhaka's shot into the path of Willian, who knocked the ball goalwards. Marek Rodak made a fine stop, but could only parry as far as Lacazette, who had a simple finish to put the Gunners in front.
Both teams had chances soon after the opener, Neeskens Kebano seeing his volley blocked for Fulham and Willian's free kick striking the base of the post for Arsenal. Those were the last chances in an evenly contested first half.
The visitors took control in the second half as Aubameyang made a searing run into the Fulham box and tried to pick out a teammate only to see Ream get a vital touch on the ball to clear the danger. The lead was doubled after Willian's corner was met by Gabriel, whose downwards header beat Rodak.
Kamara dragged his shot wide of the post and it proved to be a costly miss as Aubameyang made a blazing solo and finished past Rodak into the corner with the Cottagers keeper left with no chance to make it 3-0. Lacazette connected with the captain's cross only to see Rodak pull off a fine save.
Aubameyang had one final opportunity when he rounded Rodak only to see Michael Hector clear his lines, but it was of little consequence as Fulham's top-flight return ended in defeat.
Willian will be prove to be a major force for Arsenal
Getting him on a free transfer looks to be a steal for Mikel Arteta. He was involved in all three goals and could have scored a couple himself. His first shot led to Lacazette's opener, he hit the left post with another and his cross found Aubameyang for the Gunners' third. He's a threat every time he touches the ball and he showed why Arteta snapped him up.
Fulham lack the cutting edge to compete with top-flight competition
Don't get me wrong: the result is in no way surprising nor should anyone think Fulham won't improve, but with Aleksandr Mitrovic starting the match on the bench, the Cottagers' lack of finishing without him on the pitch was evident. They didn't create much, either despite having a good amount of possession. Scott Parker may want to buy another playmaker or two.