As Aaron Ramsey celebrated in front of an away end abounding with joy and optimism, the Arsenal supporters broke into euphoric song. ‘We’ve got our Arsenal back,’ came the cry and after this result, a ninth win on the spin, it was hard to begrudge these fans their moment.
Seven weeks is a long time in English football. Back in August, Unai Emery was presented with a gruesome statistic: after two opening defeats, he had made the worst start to life as an Arsenal manager since Thomas Mitchell in 1897. Now the historical comparisons are not so much positive as emphatically fawning.
Arsenal have won nine or more in a row under only three previous managers — Herbert Chapman, George Graham and Arsene Wenger — and that trio all share in common top division titles.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Bettinelli, Christie, Odoi, Ream (Kamara 54), Le Marchand, Seri, Anguissa (McDonald 62), Vietto (Johansen 83), Schurrle, R Sessegnon, Mitrovic
Subs not used: Ayite, Sergio Rico, Mawson, S Sessegnon
Scorers: Schurrle 44
Booked: Vietto, Schurrle
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi (Ramsey 67), Welbeck (Aubameyang 62), Lacazette (Guendouzi 81)
Subs not used: Martinez; Sokratis, Lichtsteiner, Kolasinac
Scorers: Lacazette 29, 49; Ramsey 68; Aubameyang 79, 91
Referee: Paul Tierney
The ticker-tape and the statues remain in a distant, imagined future for Emery but which Arsenal supporter would not be a little bit giddy after this demolition? After all, if Arsenal can do this after only a few months under Emery, how good might they become once he has been afforded more recruits and the necessary time on the training field?
‘I don’t think this was our “best”,’ Emery said. ‘We can get better. I want our fans to feel every match is a special day and show we are improving with our quality, our winning mentality, our commitment.’
Emery’s team were a delight here, responding emphatically to Fulham’s equaliser on the stroke of half-time by scoring four goals in the second-half without reply. Glorious goals, too. Both Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey scored goals that belonged in the happiest days of the Wenger era and the league table makes for happy reading too, with Arsenal back in the top four and within touching distance of a title race.
So for Emery, the portents are good. They are good not only because his team attack with abandon but also because they have rediscovered a resilience that appeared alien to recent Arsenal teams.