Debutants shine in Arsenal win
Arsenal got their Premier League campaign underway with a 3-0 win at promoted Fulham thanks to goals from Alexandre Lacazette, new signing Gabriel and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the opening game of the season on Saturday.
Newcomers Gabriel and Willian enjoyed fine debuts for the Gunners, who made light work of their short trip across London to Craven Cottage and dominated against a toothless Fulham.
Lacazette scored the season’s opening goal in the eighth minute after poor defending by the home side before 22-year old Brazilian defender Gabriel, who joined Arsenal from Ligue 1 side Lille, made it 2-0 in the 49th with a close-range header.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the icing on the cake with a superb shot into the top corner in the 57th minute and missed a pair of gilt-edged chances in the closing stages to inflict even more damage on the home side.
Right back Denis Odoi forced a save from Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno early on but that was as good as it got for Fulham, whose opening-day performance suggests that staying in the top flight could be a tall order.
Lacazette was left with the simple task of poking the ball in from close range after a comedy of errors by the home side, who enjoyed a slice of good fortune when Willian hit the post with a 22nd-minute free kick.
Gabriel made it 2-0 with a thumping header after a corner swung in by Willian, who racked up his second assist of the day when he set up Aubameyang for the third in his first game for Arsenal after his summer move from Chelsea.
Willian’s delightful pass from midfield found Aubameyang on the left flank and the striker cut inside to curl a rasping shot from inside the penalty area past Marek Rodak who was left clutching thin air.
The home keeper then did well to block a shot from point-blank range by Aubameyang, who had another effort cleared off the line by a defender in the dying minutes. Even at 3-0 down, Fulham were barely able to break out of their own half with their midfield chasing shadows and a porous defence all at sea whenever Arsenal went forward.
Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha scored his 50th league goal for the club as they beat Southampton 1-0 to secure a home victory on the opening day for the first time.
The hosts went ahead against the run of play as Zaha, who had managed only one goal in his previous 21 games, met Andros Townsend’s pin-point cross from the right with a side-footed volley past goalkeeper Alex McCarthy in the 13th minute.
Zaha, so often Palace’s talisman during previous seasons but coming off a disappointing 2019-20 campaign in which he netted only four league goals, looked dangerous throughout the first half as Southampton left far too many gaps at the back.