BY DANIEL MARSH
Fulham fell to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal in their first game back in the Premier League at Craven Cottage.
Early goals in either half from Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Magalhes were capped by a wonderful strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to condemn Scott Parker’s men to an opening day loss.
It was nearly a dream start to life back in the top tier for the Whites. Arsenal’s rearguard made a sloppy start to proceedings, with Aboubakar Kamara close to punishing a mistake by Ainsley Maitland-Niles inside the opening two minutes.
Unfortunately, the hosts found themselves a goal down shortly after. A scuffed strike from Xhaka found its way to Arsenal debutant Willian after some weak defending from Tim Ream, forcing a good save from Marek Rodak. Unfortunately, the ball fell perfectly for the lurking Lacazette to stab home from close range after just nine minutes.
The Gunners came close to doubling their advantage just shy of the half-hour mark. A wonderful whipped free-kick from Willian had Rodak beaten, only to strike the base of the post.
Fulham tried to muster a response, but failed to pose a threat in the final third with last term’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic starting on the bench. Dennis Odoi did get forward well at times down the right flank. On two occasions he flashed teasing crosses into the Arsenal box, but there was no white shirt to take advantage.
Arsenal did find a way to double their lead just four minutes after the interval. Defensive newcomer Gabriel rose above Michael Hector to nod home Willian’s corner to leave the Whites with a mountain to climb in the second period.
Just eight minutes later, Fulham found themselves three down. The outstanding Willian sent a diagonal ball into the path of Aubameyang, who cut inside in the area and arrowed a super strike beyond Rodak to seal the points for the visitors.
Mitrovic was introduced soon after, but he could do little to salvage anything for the Whites. It was the visitors who had further chances, with Aubameyang and Lacazette going close. But the damage was already done as Arsenal left West London with all three points.
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