Sports

Arsenal beat Fulham 3-0 in EPL opener

Arsenal beat Fulham 3-0 in EPL opener
Arsenal players celebrate after scoring a goal during their English Premier League opening match against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
London, Sep 12 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 9/12/2020 12:33:57 PM IST

Arsenal’s old and new faces starred as they beat newly-promoted Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage in the Premier League season opener.

Arsenal got Mikel Arteta’s first full campaign up and running through Alexandre Lacazette’s tap-in (9) as debutant Willian’s shot was parried by Marek Rodak, before Willian hit the post with a free-kick. 

Willian’s corner was then nodded home by fellow debutant and man-of-the-match Gabriel Magalhaes after the break (49) before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang curled home a beauty from just inside the box from another Willian assist (57) to hand Arsenal a dominant opening-day win.

Arsenal’s momentum and belief was clear to see, with Arteta claiming his 18th win in the last 30 games.

The Premier League kicked off again just 48 days after the end of the 2019/20 season, but for Fulham it was a 489-day wait to put things right following their relegation in 2019. Bernd Leno had to deny Aboubakar Kamar at his feet after a mix-up between himself and Gabriel early on, but Arsenal soon found their rhythm and were ahead with a soft opener from Fulham’s point of view. Granit Xhaka’s miscued attempt from the edge of the box fell fortuitously to Willian at close range after Tim Ream failed to clear, and after the Brazilian’s close-range shot on the stretch was parried by Marek Rodak, Lacazette pounced to tap home into the empty net.

Arsenal looked relatively comfortable in the first half, with Fulham lacking bite, and the visitors were nearly 2-0 up as Willian’s whipped free-kick from 20 yards came off the foot of the post. Arsenal did get their second four minutes after the break as Gabriel rose easily above Michael Hector to meet Willian’s wicked corner, the ball going in off the defender’s shoulder. Under new handball rules, the goal stood, but would have likely been disallowed last season.

And it was soon 3-0 through a superb team goal; Lacazette did superbly to hold up the ball on halfway, before Willian found Aubayemang galloping into the box with a diagonal. The Gabon forward did the rest, curling into the top corner from 15 yards.

It means Willian is the first player to assist two goals on his Premier League debut for Arsenal since Ray Parlour in August 1992 against Liverpool. Aubameyang saw a shot from an acute angle cleared off the line by Hector after rounding the goalkeeper, but Arsenal did manage to keep Fulham out to earn their first clean sheet in four games, helped by the superb Gabriel on his first appearance since the £27m move from Lille.

Arsenal looked well-drilled off the ball and assured on it throughout as Arteta looks to turn a work in progress into tangible success, while Fulham know they’ll have easier opponents as they look to succeed where they failed in 2019.

Arsenal host West Ham next Saturday, while Fulham are in EFL Cup action at Ipswich Town in four days’ time.

Match result

Crystal Palace

1 - 0

Southampton

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