Willian, Arsenal’s new signing, provided two assists on his debut to help Arsenal beat Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage.
Goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel Magalhaes and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang ensured Mikel Arteta started his full season with the North London side with a win.
Inner notebook: Greenwood, Foden face England ax
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The first goal in the 2020-21 Premier League season came after just nine minutes, but he entered with grumbling rather than loud as Fulham’s weak defense saw Arsenal hit several shots before Lacazette finally hit the net.
Willian, who was involved in setting up the Lacazette goal, had the opportunity to add a second in 27 minutes when Arsenal won a free kick into the penalty area. The Brazilian international’s shot bounced off the wall and appeared to drop under Marek Rudak’s lead, but hit the post.
Fulham showed some promising signs during the first half as Dennis Odoi and Niskins Kebano met in the 31st minute to flash a superb cross pass through the penalty area. However, there was no one to push her into goal and the ball was harmlessly far away.
Arteta’s halftime talk seemed to give Arsenal a new life with Gabriel, another summer new deal, as he scored in 49 minutes.
A corner kick won by Lacazette was taken by Willian to an unmarked Gabriel, who headed in the middle of the goal, bypassing Rodak directly.
Arsenal only took seven minutes to add a third. Willian, again involved, continued a cross pass to Aubameyang on the left. Arsenal’s mascot took the ball calmly down his chest before moving into the penalty area and shooting the ball into the top right corner.
Arsenal came close to fourth in the 70th minute. Kieran Tierney sent a ball down the left to Aubameyang, who crossed over to Lacazette. Rodak fired a long shot, but only as much as Hector Bellerin, who shot well but the referee blew the offside whistle earlier.
“I wanted to see my team designed with great strength and doing the things we did in training. We did it today,” Arteta said after the match.
“Gabriel hadn’t played for six months before today. Mohamed El-Nani was great. He’s been excellent at training since day one. I know him very well – we played together. Today was exceptional. All the boys tried really hard.”
Fulham coach Scott Parker said he was disappointed with his team’s performance in their first game in the Premier League.
“The big lesson today is that understanding the good margins in this section means that you can be penalized. At this level, you have to be clinical and make the difference pay and in return the first time they enter the penalty area and score,” he said.
“I didn’t like the second half very much. The second goal was a bad goal. At that moment we have to understand how important it is and I felt we were a little weak and accepted it.”
“When you are a team like us that came from the tournament, you cannot let defeat after defeat really paralyze you. We will lose more than we win, but as a team you have to keep learning and developing.
“It was a quick turnaround for us. We brought in players who would improve us and hope there will be more. We need to make them fast.”
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