Now THAT is how you open a season. Arsenal throttled a heavily over-matched Fulham side with a 3-0 performance that didn’t leave much to criticize. The Gunners scored early, defended well, and put the match away in the second half. Checks all the boxes.
Now, some of you will say, “but it’s only Fulham, who are going right back down.” And yeah, we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves, but this is what Arsenal are supposed to do and haven’t been doing. Good teams smash the bad ones. Last season, Arsenal might have struggled in a match like this. The Gunners took just three points from away matches against the relegated sides last season. That’s not good enough. I’m going to say it all season — Arsenal’s finish will be determined more by their performances against the weaker clubs than the stronger ones.
Alexandre Lacazette’s opener 8 minutes into the match was an ugly goal, but ugly goals count too. Arsenal could do with picking up some scrappy ones this year. Gabriel Magalhaes’ goal early in the second half was encouraging. A strong header from a corner, helped by terrible marking from Fulham. Gabriel is strong in the air and having another threat from corners will help the Gunners going forward. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal was a cracker — a fantastic crossfield ball from Willian and a lovely curled shot into the top corner.
Speaking of Willian, what a debut for the Brazilian. He notched three assists (depending on how you view the first goal), and the Arsenal attack flowed through him. Also on display all match was his high workrate, which is important for the way Mikel Arteta wants to play. He’s going to be an important piece for Arsenal this season.
And speaking of Brazilian debutants, have a game Gabriel Magalhaes. His early miscommunication with Bernd Leno aside (and to be honest, at least some of the blame for the incident falls on Ainsley Maitland-Niles), he was fantastic today. Strong in his challenges, passed well, and added a goal to boot. If he can manage that on only a handful of training sessions, imagine how he’ll look when he’s settled in.
Mohamed Elneny was solid. It’s not clear whether he’ll be at the club when the transfer window closes, but he showed that he’s good enough to play against lesser sides. If Arsenal keep him around, having him give Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos a break every few games could prove quite valuable. I thought Hector Bellerin had a good game today, too.
Based on today, Arsenal are CLEARLY going to win the Premier League. Real talk though, it was a strong performance and exactly how you want to start the season.
Winning 3-0 is fun. More of that, please.