Arsenal’s first full season under Mikel Arteta got off to the perfect start when they defeated London rivals Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage in the Premier League curtain-raiser.
With Arsenal debutants Willian and Gabriel Magalhães impressing for the Gunners, this is three lessons that we learned from Saturday’s convincing victory.
Willian can solve creativity issue
There was some controversy around the signing of former Chelsea winger Willian after he rejected a two-year deal at Stamford Bridge and accepted a three-year deal with their north London rivals, but for this season at least, Willian’s fluidity and creativity could be a key component for Arteta.
Despite rumours of Houssem Aouar linked with a move to the Gunners from Lyon, Willian’s transition play from defence to attack and fluidity by drifting from the middle of attacking midfield to the right wing is not something Aouar could provide.
Willian won’t be able to do it alone and at already 32 years old, won’t have the longevity to perform at the level of Saturday’s performance consistently in a few years. However, Willian was involved in all three goals, registering assists for two of them, including a delightful cross-field pass to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when Arsenal moved on the counter attack.
If Arsenal can sign Aouar before the end of the summer transfer window and take some pressure off of Willian, we may provide the best out of the Brazilian, during this season at least.
Rob Holding still has a chance at Arsenal
Holding looked like he was out the door at one point this summer when Newcastle United showed interested in taking the Englishman on loan. However, Arteta has played Holding in the first two games of the season and has looked like the player he was before his lengthy knee injury two seasons ago.
While injuries in defence and Arteta not risking playing 18-year-old William Saliba just yet, Holding has a chance to create a solid defensive partnership with Gabriel which may force Arteta to keep Holding in the starting line-up.
Arteta on Holding to BT Sport: “Rob is another one where he stands for every value we want at the football club. He pursued his dream of playing for this club, you are already playing, what else do you want?”
There is definitely room for Holding at Arsenal, with defenders like Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi looking to be shifted on in this window or the next, as long as Holding keeps impressing, there will be room for him at the Emirates Stadium.
Gabriel is the future of Arsenal's defence
It is an early call so early in the defender’s Arsenal career, but there are clear signs that 22-year-old Gabriel could be the answer to Arsenal’s defensive prayers.
High quality left-sided defenders do not come around often and for £27million, Gabriel looks like he fits the bill for Arteta’s ball-playing style. Gabriel was linking the play from defence to midfield beautifully and when Dani Ceballos comes back into the side, Gabriel will have a very capable deep ball-playing midfielder to play off of.
Gabriel was the first player since Thomas Vermaelen to score away from home on his Premier League debut when our former Belgian captain headed in at Everton back in 2009, and with the potential both Gabriel and Saliba have, it could be a dream defensive paring of the future.